Something strange is happening with my social circle. We finally get the green light to gather, and many don’t want to step outside. Even the most gregarious are experiencing a bit of apprehension at this unleashing we’ve all been anticipating — including me.
While excitement to hang out with old friends, support restaurants and return to normalcy is there, a part of me says, “Hold on. Not so fast.”
Have we become too cozy in our quarantine cubbies? Have our new routines become the new normal we prefer? Or is the uncertainly surrounding us keeping us fearful of spreading our wings?
The apprehension hit me oddly. I’ve never had concerns about accepting invitations; my heart and head are usually in the same place, and if my schedule allows, I’m in. But I’ve come to realize that beyond the lingering fear of social gatherings is the dramatic change to my calendar. I’ve come to embrace the blank pages. No more FOMO here (fear of missing out in case you missed that one). I have come to relish the personal time and space I’ve garnered during quarantine and wish to take that with me moving forward.
But I’m happy to leave the apprehension and fear behind. Of course, these feelings are necessary to help keep us safe, cautious and socially responsible but can’t we do those things without the negative emotions?
“Too much worry can lead your brain to think that everything is dangerous, even when it’s actually a safe place or a safe person,” clinical psychologist Kevin Gilliland, Psy.D., told Shape Magazine in an article on the subject. “Your mind is trying to protect you and keep you alive,” he adds, “but that protection can easily turn into hypervigilance.”1
Can you relate? We’ve all had a lot of worries lately, and there hasn’t been much certainty in the world. Honestly, when was that last time you read or heard about something positive we could count on during the pandemic? The only things I can think of are the random acts of kindness that pop up on social media or close the evening news. (Let’s keep those going).
These next few months are sure to be an adjustment period for us all. “You know when you come out of a movie theater, and your eyes need time to adjust to the light?” says Rancho Mirage therapist Amy Austin, RN, PsyD, LMFT. “This is the same concept with coming out of quarantine. We are coming out of a dark time and need to give ourselves time to not only adjust to our new normal but to embrace it. Every struggle is an opportunity.”
Palm Springs psychologist Simone Ravicz, PhD agrees. “At this juncture, opening our hearts and minds to change, to the new, is the way through. We must meet the changes in the outside world with an evolution within. By allowing and accepting any fear and anxiety about re-emerging, we open the path to possibility, connection and joy.”
I’ve begun a daily routine that really helps incite enthusiasm and minimize negativity. Upon waking, I walk outside in my jammies and greet the morning with open arms and two simple words, “Hello, world!” With warmer mornings, I’ve also moved my daily meditation outside to the grass. It’s good to start your day with a little grounding, and it feels like I’m placing my brain in a larger arena, preparing it for our “coming out” and reassuring my whole being that this is what we’ve been long awaiting. All will be ok.
My greeting was inspired by the Lady A song of the same name: Hello, world. How’ve you been? It’s good to see you, my old friend. Sometimes I feel as cold as steel and broken, like I’m never gonna heal.
As we emerge and come together, I certainly hope we do so with less judgment. We’ve all been through a lot, and you have no idea what others have endured over this past year. Even beyond the pandemic, it seems there has been so much loss. We should be as soft with each other as we are with ourselves.
I see a light, a little grace, a little faith unfurled. Well, hello world.
Lauren Del Sarto is founder and publisher of Desert Health and can be reached at Lauren@DesertHealthNews.com.