By Natalie Taylor
The lifting of mask wearing for those who have been vaccinated came suddenly with a directive from the CDC. We had all been waiting for this day, and yet when the announcement was made most people were left baffled and filled with questions. Are we really safe? What about those who are not vaccinated? Whom can I really trust?
One year of living in fear, distanced from family and friends, not knowing when the end of the pandemic was coming, has left most of us beyond tired—often mentally and even physically exhausted. There are many reasons for this exhaustion. Part of it is that we are still operating in the hyperarousal mode that has become part of our routine over the past year. Many of us became addicted to the news, particularly about Covid-19 because we wanted to know what would happen next. Our sleep has been impacted by the lockdown. Because of the breakdown of routines and the anxiety of the unknown, many have been staying up too late, not eating well, indulging in too much alcohol, and spending too much time online. Now, being told that we no longer need to monitor every story connected with the pandemic because it is waning, doesn’t automatically cause us to shut down the news and go watch butterflies instead.
And yet this is exactly what health experts recommend! A walk outside inhaling fresh air activates positive chemicals in our brain. And being in touch with nature, whether smelling flowers, listening to birds’ chirping, or watching butterflies flitter about can feel invigorating and lift the feeling of physical and mental exhaustion.
There is also the matter of how friendships have been affected by our physical distancing during the lockdown. On one hand, you may be tired of seeing your friends on social media and long to see them in person. But during this transition period, you might still opt to connect with them either online or by phone simply because of habit. Perhaps it’s time to make plans to stop relying on technology and make plans to meet for real. If you have forgotten how good it feels to see a friend face to face, try it. Zoom and other social media pale in comparison. Perhaps the most important point to remember during this time of transition—from full lockdown, to partial freedom, to full freedom—is to be kind to ourselves. Allow yourself to feel some anxiety, don’t expect too much from yourself, and perhaps most importantly, just give yourself a break. This has been a hell of a year, celebrate being alive.