For the past few months, many of us have been stuck sheltering at home, wondering when this pandemic would end, and we could go back to our regularly scheduled lives. While shelter-at-home orders are still in place in many areas, some locations are finally beginning to lift restrictions and phase us back into a lifestyle of actually leaving the house ever.
While getting back to normal may be exciting, it can also be a little terrifying. Change is never easy, and many of us have gotten pretty used to our new quarantine lifestyle. So how can we better and more graciously reenter the world, when the corona clouds do part?
There are several ways we can start preparing our minds and bodies that will make the transition so much smoother and more manageable. Read on to learn how you can get ready for your own transition to a post-quarantine life.
Plan Your Path Forward
While your local government may be ready for you to start jumping back into your pre-coronavirus life, from a personal perspective, you might not be. After all, we are all responding differently to this situation, and we all have different needs. So an essential step in this transition is planning out what your life will actually be like after shelter-at-home orders are lifted.
I hear from so many people that they discovered a lot during quarantine about what they actually want from their lives - and it isn't just to go back to how things were. People have been rediscovering the joys of space for contemplation, time to be with their family, and just slowing down from the unending list of activities and obligations their previous life contained.
As you think about your post-quarantine life, don't just sign back up for everything you used to be involved with. Begin to intentionally plan out what you actually want your life to look like. One helpful exercise for the whole family is to have each person write out three lists: the things you'd like to keep from your old life, the things you want to cut back or eliminate, and the things you want to add.
Think about how you can create a new schedule or paradigm that fits with what you really want out of your life.
Acknowledge Trauma, Grief, and Fear
As we shift back into life outside of our own four walls, we can also take some time to acknowledge we are emotionally. For many of us, this experience has actually been traumatic. Whether we have been directly affected by COVID19 or are just reading the news, we have been carrying around a lot of fear about what might happen, anger at our lack of control, or grief for what has already been lost. Some of us are also harboring fears around going back out into the world - or going back to normal - when this pandemic is far from over. The risk of a deadly infection is still there. And for others, there can be a dread of going back to the grind of their previous life - when their quarantine life at home actually felt like a positive change.
Whatever we are each going through, before moving on into our next phase of life, we must acknowledge these emotions and tend to our emotional wounds. For different people, tending to these wounds may look differently.
One helpful way to work with emotions is to find a therapist or counselor who can help you to process your feelings and develop strategies to stay mentally well in your post-quarantine life.
You might also try meditation and mindfulness to tap into your emotional experience first hand and discover age-old techniques for working with your emotions and keeping some sense of equilibrium and balance.
Cannabis can be another helpful tool in this process, with its ability toreduce stress and calm the mind. When we find ourselves particularly overwhelmed and unable to process our emotions, using cannabis can help us slow down and become more mindful of our own internal experience.
Get Back On a Normal Schedule
As you prepare to shift to a post-quarantine life, it's essential to consider what your schedule will be like and start to move in that direction. If you've changed your sleeping or eating habits since you've been stuck home, for example, staying up later and sleeping in more, it can be helpful to start to get your body back on the schedule you'll need to keep.
This is important for us all, but it can be especially helpful if you have children or pets. If your kids are going to school again, getting them back to a bedtime that fits their school schedule can now be a big help when the transition happens. Otherwise, you'll have to deal with the schedule change and the shock of the development. No one wants to be exhausted for a significant difference, so get your sleep schedule ready now.
If you have pets, they are probably used to you being around a lot more. Think about what life will be like for them when you back out. If they are kept in a crate during the day, for example, start putting them in the crate for a bit every day now. Helping them to get used to and comfortable with the life they are about to have can make a big difference.