It’s been over two years since the start of the pandemic and you might think that everyone is getting back to life as normal, but not everyone is. There are still some people who are afraid to get out of the house. If you use precautions, it’s safe to do so. But what if you’ve hunkered down so hard that you find it difficult to get back out there? Let’s look at some things that can help you get back out of the house.
I know some people are struggling to get out of the house and still only do runs to the grocery store or medical appointments, and work if absolutely necessary. And I know there are some out there who don’t even do that. I’m going to offer options for both.
For some, the pandemic, quarantine, and then the waiting periods have taken a hard toll on mental health. This is especially true if there were any traumatic losses during this time period. For people in this category, restarting the old life may feel overwhelming or impossible. My only advice for those who find themselves in this situation is to reach out for help. There are a lot of options.
Most employer insurance offers EAP, their Employee Assistance Program which is a convenient way to get short-term therapy and/or find a local therapist. There are also online options such as BetterHelp which allows you to get connected to a therapist that specializes in your needs. Or you can reach out to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Please, do not feel like it’s a weakness or that you’ll be stigmatized because you need mental healthcare. One of my friends is a psychologist who feels that everyone should check in with a therapist at least once per year for a mental health check-up. You get a yearly physical for your body, why not a yearly checkup for your mental health?
My husband and I both have spoken to therapists before. Especially while we were living with and taking care of my mother in her last two years. That was the cause of a lot of stress and I’m not ashamed to admit that talking to a therapist helped.
If you’re friends with someone who still hasn’t come out of the bubble that they created, you’re not seeing them out and about, they’re still not coming to church or dropping their kids off at school, and they aren’t responding to your attempts to reach out…please don’t drop them. Don’t harass them either.
Instead, just keep reaching out once in a while. No pressure. Just let them know you miss them and you’re still there once they are ready to reach out. Nice and simple.
You’re Ready but Not Sure What to Do
For those who are ready to get out and about but not sure what to do, I have some tips.
First, make sure you’ve got the vaccine and booster.
Second, it’s ok to still be wary of crowded places. For me, that crowded place is a restaurant, so I take additional precautions.
I don’t like to eat outdoors because I don’t like bugs or the smell of car exhaust while I’m eating. Instead, I look for other things. For instance, I don’t eat where there’s a line of people waiting for tables. If that means I’m eating out earlier than usual, so be it. I am a Baby Boomer after all. I also look for restaurants that have outdoor seating. Even though I don’t like outdoor seating, other people do which means fewer people are in the dining room.
But, I do encourage you to use outdoor eating options, if you like them, whenever possible or available.
Baby Steps Lead to…
We first started going out again in 2020. While that seems early, we had our bubble friend family and would go to their house for picnics and holidays. Then we started going out to Farmer’s Markets and other outdoor venues. We played miniature golf and went to Disney Springs on a weekday (obviously we were living in Orlando at the time.) The key here is that we started with outdoor/open-air events.
We would also drive to the beach early mornings on the weekend. We’d get there about 8 am and leave by 10 am. Enough time to do some swimming, shell collecting, and sunning. And then leave right about the time more people were starting to show up.
After we were vaccinated and boosted, we started going back to restaurants. But we were slow going with this and it was still during the time when everyone had to be masked so those cooking the food and serving the food were masked. We go more frequently now, but we still take the precautions mentioned above.
We tried the movies once about six months ago, but some woman was sitting next to me who kept coughing and not wearing her mask–we haven’t gone back since. But we are going to try the movies again, possibly this week or next because we must see Dr. Strange in the MultiVerse. We will go during the week and take in an early afternoon show. That usually helps to cut down on people.
And that is really the key. Start with your comfort level. Go at your own pace, you don’t need to meet anyone else’s timeline except yours. Start with outdoor venues that may not have a lot of people yet. It will help you to feel more comfortable and also remind you what it’s like to be out around people. As you get more comfortable with these, then you can start building from there.
I’d like to hear what you’re doing.