After months and months of pandemic public health restrictions, stay-home orders and phased reopenings, the governor lifted the restrictions June 15 and we should come much closer to “normal” soon.
As I check in with my own feelings about this transition, the two words that comes to mind for me are anticipation and anxiety.
I dream of going places. Granted, I have been pretty busy at work this past year and have only traveled from home to work and back. I do remember that when I drove to get my vaccine I passed the agricultural areas of Ventura County and thought how refreshing it was to see something different.
I’m enjoying the anticipation of going to see my mom and sister, traveling to do some wine tasting and taking a trip to a place where I can lie on the beach for a week.
But I’m also feeling a good amount of anxiety. I have tried to put my nervousness into words because I think others might be feeling some of the same things.
I’m concerned as we move back to normal that a variant may spread and cause a resurgence in COVID cases. If that happens, how do we put the genie back in the bottle and get everyone to recommit to stricter rules again?
It happened earlier in Italy and now in the UK, and it could happen here.
My sister has an autoimmune disease and takes a biologic drug that weakens her immune system. She is under instructions from her doctor not to get the vaccine. I worry about her and people like her getting COVID as we begin to congregate freely again.
I am nervous about being in crowds. I cannot think about going to see Fourth of July fireworks wedged into a large crowd, even though I love to see them.
I worry about my inability to control those around me. I’m planning a trip back east, and the thought of being on a plane for six hours with someone who goes out of control—as a few passengers have recently—scares me.
It is silly, but I worry about leaving my dog when my husband and I go away. He is blind and deaf, and he howls when we leave. One or both of us being home these past 15 months has lessened my anxiety about his well-being.
I’m feeling sad as I walk the mall and other shopping centers and see so many retailers and restaurants that have shut down. I’m anxious about how long it will take our community to bounce back economically.
I worry about confusion around mask wearing and social distancing, and competing rules within the state, counties and businesses. Even the DMV does not know at this time whether visitors will be required to wear masks.
And lastly, I worry about the unknown. Fifteen months ago I was worrying about earthquakes and fires, and then comes a pandemic. What could be next? How do I prepare?
I have a few coping mechanisms I plan to use as my anxiety heightens as things open up.
First, I have voiced my fears. Now I can anticipate situations that will make me feel uncomfortable and I can prepare for them to reduce my anxiety.
To do that, I am working on establishing my own personal boundaries. By thinking ahead and visualizing how I might handle a situation, I hope to navigate them more easily as they arise.
For example, I’m imagining how I would handle someone pressuring me to do something I am not comfortable with or judging me for my choices.
I plan to take things as slowly as I need to, branching out as I feel comfortable.
I am fairly sure I am not alone in some of my feelings. Life has been scary and it is not easy to move on, but with some thoughtfulness and planning, dealing with anxiety around reopening can be a lot easier.