“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
You probably recognize these as the opening lines from the legendary Charles Dickens 1859 historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Although the book is from a different era, these lines can also apply to the current situation in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have experienced the worst of times that accompanied it; death of loved ones, loss of jobs, poverty, restrictions on activities, social isolation, and poor mental health. There have been times when things looked so hopeless, and the top question in our minds was, “Will we ever go back to normal after this pandemic?”
Nonetheless, there have also been some of the best of times from this experience including, more family time, more spirituality as people turned to God in the time of need, increased community spirit, focus on holistic wellness, better working habits, and reduced environmental pollution.
With the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more people getting vaccinated every day, we can finally see a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel. Restrictions have been lifted in many regions, and a lot of places and businesses have reopened. It seems like things are finally getting back to normal after the coronavirus. However, since we have been in quarantine for so long, some might find it hard to adjust, and returning to your ‘normal’ life post-COVID might be harder than you think. Here are some reasons why;
COVID has been here for more than a year now, and in that time, a lot has changed. From the way we work to the way we socialize. However, things have started to change, and for most of us, the next big challenge will be how to cope with the feelings of anxiety about things going back to normal. Although you might be vaccinated, the fear of COVID doesn’t really go away. You might still live with a sense of dread, waiting for the other shoe to drop. You worry and feel uncertain about how things will unfold. What if the scientists are wrong and the vaccine isn’t enough protection? What if a worse variant emerges? What if?
It is understandable that you are scared to go back to normal after lock-down and social isolation. It will not be easy returning to your pre-COVID life of commuting to work in crowded buses and trains or traveling by air. Going to other public spaces such as gyms and restaurants could also be challenging. Seeing other people do normal activities such as hugging, handshakes, and social gatherings could also cause anxiety. Most will probably stick to the nodding and waving they got used to during the pandemic. Parents might also worry about sending their kids off to school or letting them play with other children. Considering that not everyone has received the COVID vaccine, your fear of going back to normal might not be unfounded.
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2. You got used to your COVID routine
The brain likes routines, and getting out of one can be challenging. When a situation goes on for as long as the pandemic has, you learn to adapt to the change and create a new normal for yourself. For those working or studying from home, transitioning to your old routine might feel strange. Your old routine will be like the new normal that you will have to adapt to again. Even though you are excited to finally do things you have not been able to do in the past year, like any other transition, take it slow as you ease yourself back into old/new activities.
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3. Interacting with others might be difficult and awkward
Social distancing and isolation in the past year can turn even the most extroverted person into an introvert to some degree. Even though you probably kept anticipating when we can go back to normal again and life can continue, you might be surprised at how much you aren’t ready for a Post-COVID social life.
Going back to having face-to-face conversations might be difficult. You are used to either talking to people via phone and video calls or through social media. Social media was already creating a distance between people before, and it is even worse now because one might have become too accustomed to it being the mode of communication and staying connected during quarantine.
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4. Developing Stockholm syndrome-like symptoms
You are already vaccinated, and there are no restrictions in most areas. So, why are you still staying at home? Have you become a hermit? Even though most people are excited about things going back to normal, others aren’t as thrilled. They have developed something similar to Stockholm syndrome – the coronavirus being the captor.
Staying indoors, working from home, practicing personal hygiene, and wearing masks, has become normal. We have also lived in fear of COVID-19’s impact on our health for over a year, and seeing those that didn’t abide by the rules and regulations get sick has made many resign themselves to this situation and learn to live with it.
Some have even started to like some aspects of the situation, and have made peace with the behaviors they had to adopt during quarantine. For instance, more people prefer remote work over office work now. Luckily for them, some companies are considering allowing their employees to continue working from home as long as they keep up with their performance and productivity.
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5. Your favorite spots might not have survived the pandemic
You have probably been looking forward to going on vacation to your favorite beach resort after the pandemic. As things start returning to normal after COVID, you try to make a reservation and find an empty website saying the resort is closed indefinitely or that it was sold. Post-COVID, you might not be able to go back to some of your favorite places such as cafés, bars, clubs, hair and beauty salons, dance schools, or even some theaters because many businesses were hit hard by the COVID-19 and couldn’t stay afloat. Hence, as you plan on how to spend your newfound freedom, be ready for some disappointments.
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You cannot step into the same river twice. A post-COVID world is not the same as the one we left back in March 2020. A lot has changed in that time, and you cannot expect things to be the same as they were. Even you are not the same person you were back then. It is natural for you to be hesitant or feel anxious about things going back to normal because you have gotten used to things as they are now. To adapt to the new normal, you can try to change your mindset about the situation and choose to be grateful that you lived to see this day. Sadly, many other people did not. With the availability of the COVID vaccine, there is hope that we might beat this virus someday. Although returning to your normal life might be hard, it is an opportunity you should seize and appreciate.
Have you already returned to your pre-COVID life? Are you experiencing any challenges going back to normal life?
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