We have been changed by the pandemic. We’ve been forced to live life from home. We became accustomed to staying at home. With that, some are finding it hard to get out other than to work, run necessary errands, and collect food. It has become the norm in our lives to be most comfortable at home.
We can continue in this pattern, or we can get out again. When thinking about getting out, we first consider that it would be easier to just stay home. To move beyond this new normal, we are going to have to break through this discomfort. It is time to start getting out and living life once again.
Back to normal was something we all dreamed about. And now? For some, the trauma of pandemic has forced us to rethink getting out among people again. According to the DSM-V, there is a term for this: Agoraphobia, meaning “fear of the marketplace”. This can range from a continued fear of infection in offices, schools, and public locations open up, to being stressed about how to resume socialization with those outside your household.
Exiting our COVID cave of safety may not be easy, even if you’ve been waiting patiently for the chance to get out. People have been expressing this anxiety, and in a recent report psychologist Deborah Serani shared, “This is a global example of what’s called re-entry after trauma.” With that in mind, as we inch toward a new normal, a first good step is recognizing that the pandemic is a traumatic event we collectively experienced.
When you are fearful, or uncomfortable, pause to think about what you are feeling and consider what is activating those feelings. When you recognize how you are feeling and what is making you uncomfortable or stressed, you can pause to take a break and explore what’s going on. Without judgment, you can focus on ways to address what you’re feeling and prepare for what is next.
Accept how you feel and make decisions that feel right for you. Start with being honest with yourself about your limits, and don’t feel bad if you’re not ready to resume in-person or public activities.
However, if you are ready, make some plans – maybe small at first. You will be rewarded if you stretch yourself to get back into life. Remember my friends and readers, embrace 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”.
Love God and all people. Amen.