What a long strange trip it’s been. 2020 was the year when the words “COVID” and “pandemic” became a part of the everyday vernacular, as time seemed to endlessly creep by, making 365 days feel more like a million. And then we finally got to 2021, and this year seems to be flying by at lightspeed. How can it already be half over? There’s no way anyone on this planet can have made it through unchanged. Life after the pandemic is just different. We are just different. And now as the world begins to open up, as restrictions are lifted, and we attempt to discover and define this “new normal,” many of us, while of course relieved, are also left feeling a little bit lost and unsure with some social apprehension. The opportunity for a reset is upon us.
We’ve gone from being quarantined, literally trapped within our dwellings, to being invited to a multitude of gatherings and celebrations. It may feel like the bursting of a dam — so much, so fast. How exactly does one cope with anxiety associated with our re-entry into society and the return to socialization? There are fears of how to stay safe. There are concerns about how to engage in healthy communication with friends and loved ones about comfort levels, and how to manage pressure from others who may want us to do things we’re not ready to do yet. There is social apprehension about how to deal with others we encounter when out and about. And many people are worried that a return to work will cause their lives to become too busy or frantic again. Some may not even be able to pinpoint exactly where their uneasiness is coming from and just feel an all-encompassing sense of anxiety. We need new strategies to cope with social apprehension and life after the pandemic.
Decide for yourself what you’re comfortable doing and what you are not in life after the pandemic. If you’ve been looking forward to finally dining inside a restaurant or enjoying some social CBD without apprehension, fantastic. But if you’re simply not ready for that, that’s okay too. Are you chomping at the bit to see all of your old friends? Or do you only want to come in contact with those who have already been vaccinated? The focus has to be placed not on what others may think about you — but on how you alone feel. You need to be true to yourself. And unapologetic about that.
Then you need to express those boundaries to others. Friends, loved ones, co-workers — you can’t expect them to read your mind. Clearly explain what you are, and are not, comfortable with. It is not about who is right and who is wrong — it is about personal choice.
Be ready for some disagreement and pushback. That comes with the territory of self-expression. You most definitely do not have to give in to any peer pressure — but at the same time, you shouldn’t attempt to pressure others to believe what you believe and to think the way you think. Everyone is entitled to handle this in their own way. It is not our job to change their minds. All we can do is decide whether we want to be in connection with them.
The whole point of re-entering the outside world is to create a sense of happiness and well-being. If going out conjures up the opposite feelings, then you should stay home. Get excited. Expect to have fun. Scientific studies show that individuals who consciously choose to be more positive and optimistic experience less stress and the negative symptoms that come with it such as headaches and fatigue. Enjoyment can be increased by savoring the moments in three distinct stages.
Before: This is known as “anticipatory savoring.” It involves consciously imagining what you expect to occur — be it hugging an old friend, enjoying a good meal, or laughing together. See it in your mind’s eye. Think about all the stories you’ve been waiting to tell IRL – even writing them down can add to the positive feelings you experience leading up to your social engagement.
During: Be present. Be focused. Record the full memory of what is happening deeply and specifically within your mind. Savor the moment. Remember all the details — be they the aromas around you, the taste of the food, the sound of the laughter — be aware of it all.
After: Savor the memory. Display photos you took. Journal about what happened. Relay the experience to a friend. Make it a positive memory you can recall and a way to remind yourself the experience was absolutely worth leaving your house.
Our brain doesn’t work best when it is continually scanning for threats. We should not live in fight-or-flight mode. Our brain is supposed to calm down once it has determined that no threat is present. But with the continual worrying most of us have experienced over the past year, we have kept our brains constantly in high-alert mode. The effect of this is that we are left feeling jumpy.
The best thing we can do is to reassure our brain that everything is okay and that we are safe. Literally, say to yourself things like “I am vaccinated. The people here are vaccinated. We are following safety guidelines. Any danger is minimal.” And engage in “grounding practices” where you stretch and breathe. Doing an activity that engages several senses all at the same time, like touch and sight and breath, will divert your mind. The brain can only focus its attention on so much at one time so a practice like this can ease the fear.
Once you feel better, you can handle your uncertainty instead of allowing it to control you. It’s okay to not know how everything will be. Allow it to make you curious instead of afraid. Being curious about what may happen next, both short-term and long-term, is always a better feeling than anxiety.
One of the biggest fears is that life will return to that frantic hectic pace that it was pre-COVID. If you want to continue the activities that had a positive effect on you over the past year, you have to plan deliberately. Things such as sit-down family dinners, earlier bedtimes, daily walks, or fun new hobbies can remain a part of your life. Decide what to hang on to, and then be specific about how they can fit into your life moving forward.
The best way to ensure this is with “cue-based planning.” That means having a plan in place where “If X happens, I will do Y.” Don’t just say to yourself, “I am going to hike more.” That is too vague. The better choice is to say something like, “If the weather is good on Sunday morning at 10 a.m., I am going to take a hike.” Research has shown that “if-then” plans are easier to keep and help you better commit to your intention. Doing it this way provides a trigger to keep you motivated — seeing the clock read 10 a.m. Sunday reminds you to put on your hiking shoes — and thinking through the specifics helps you anticipate potential obstacles in advance so you’re not derailed if and when they arise. From fitness goals to social CBD and beyond, set goals and keep them.
Now is the time to decide exactly what your new life after the pandemic will look like, which of the new habits you’ve created you want to keep, and which you want to get rid of post-haste. Though sometimes it may feel like you’re helpless with social apprehension and other factors, you most definitely are not. You have all the power and all the choice. Where we are currently does not necessarily have to be scary. We are at a particularly unique time in our lives when we can truly reset. Enter Find Your Hapsy Challenge.
In an effort to help you clarify exactly what you want and need for yourself, Hapsy is hosting the Find Your Hapsy challenge, a 30-day challenge from August 2-31 to kick off life after the pandemic on the right foot. You can find more detailed information about the Find Your Hapsy Challenge, as well as be notified of all future events, by signing up for our newsletter.
Hapsy has a CBD product line designed to help you find your perfect balance within. Whether it is our essential Daily Drops or one of our magnificent Soothe Sticks, all of our products are made with only premium hemp CBD isolate. It is functional wellness in the palm of your hand. Whether you prefer to partake alone or participate in social CBD, Hapsy products are the perfect way to soothe your mind and simply appreciate the moment. It is curated CBD meant for quick, convenient, and discreet use whenever the day or the situation gets just a little too overwhelming. Regardless of the chaos and social apprehension you may feel in life after the pandemic, Hapsy can help you achieve that elusive pause that allows you to handle whatever comes your way with confidence and grace.
Don’t just go back to how things used to be. Create your very own new tomorrow.
Be present. Be balanced. Be Hapsy.