Post Covid: Feeling Lost and Out of Place
Transitioning from pre-COVID life to post-COVID life.
As Ontario first entered in Stage 3 of the re-opening plans, I am sure that you were filled with a lot of exciting feelings. By now though, you may have also encountered some feelings you weren’t expecting: such as anxiety, worry, stress, feeling out of place, or even feeling lost. These are all very normal feelings and understandable as we enter this time of transition. I want to make a distinction here: I think a lot of us think about returning back to “normal” life, but I want us to use the language that we are returning back to pre-COVID life, or that we are entering post-COVID life. If we think about trying to become “normal” again and we struggle with that, then we will naturally feel “abnormal”, but all of these feelings that you are experiencing, they are normal!
Today we’re going to focus on a few things that we can do to help ourselves with this transition, but first, whenever I have an opportunity to talk to people, I always like to highlight the three “steps” to being able to make change. The first step is knowledge, the second is awareness, the third step is action. Let’s start with some knowledge first. Knowledge allows us to understand what is happening, which allows us to then look inwards and to know how you as an individual is reacting, which then allows us to take specific and pointed actions that are right for you!
Step One: Knowledge
We have been, for the last one and a half years, stuck at home and through that time we have gotten used to a lot of that lifestyle. We had ample time to do the things that we like, whenever we like without any social demands or external demands from people. We also inadvertently developed a mindset of “It’s unsafe out there” or that “people are unsafe” and that it’s only safe at home. These thoughts became a part of us and we learned them, just like we would like new habits, such as washing your hands when you get home, or constantly putting hand sanitizer on your hands when you have no access to clean water and soap. At the same time, we may feel awkward using old habits such as shaking hands or giving hugs. This is all normal!
Step Two: Awareness
Now that we might know where these feelings could have started from, we want to start paying attention to how we are doing with this transition. Take some time to close your eyes and imagine spending time with people. How do you feel? Where do you feel those emotions inside of your body? Are you feeling something in you stomach? Tension in your shoulders?
Then ask yourself, where do these feelings come from? Are they coming from certain expectations I am placing on myself? Am I feeling unsafe? Try to pinpoint it down.
Step Three: Action
Be gentle with yourself. I know that we may have certain expectations of ourselves, but beating down on ourselves and making ourselves feel bad is not a good way to talk to ourselves. Start off by telling yourself that you did well for being able to do what you have done so far, then to acknowledge your feelings. Tell yourself it’s okay to feel this way and that this is an opportunity to grow. Don’t compare to other people and feel that you need to match them. This is your journey!
Take small steps. Don’t push yourself too hard! If it was too much for you the first time, doing it again may not be better! If a big group was too overwhelming or draining, try starting off with smaller groups of people. Meet with one or two people at a time, then slowly work up from there! It may seem “silly” but remember! We’ve pretty much gone a whole year with not seeing many people outside of our own families.
I know that these are very general suggestions and everyone is unique. If you feel like you want more clarity on knowing how to be able to cope with this change back to pre-COVID life, in any areas, reach out to us and schedule a session with one of our psychotherapists today.
Ambrose Ty (MSc, MDiv, RP) (Bio)
Ambrose focuses on therapies for Marital and premarital issues, depression, trauma and PTSD. He uses a variety of techniques and modalities including Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Emotionally-Focused Therapy, Trauma-informed Therapies, Mindfulness and more. You can learn more about our team here.
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