5 Tips for Coming Out of the Covid Comfort Zone
Today marks the first day, after a full year, that millions of people in the UK who were considered ‘clinically vulnerable’ and were advised to shield (not leave their homes except to see the doctor or to exercise) are now allowed to mix with others. But even for those who have not been completely isolating, as vaccines become more widespread and rules are relaxed, are you worried about the transition back to “normal” and coming out of the COVID “comfort zone”?
The Mental Health Foundation UK, advises, “Just as it took us time to find ways of coping during the lockdowns, we should also expect that it will take time to find our way back, and to reconnect with life. Things may not be the same as they were before.” People are dealing with a variety of emotions, fear and anxiety, and the need to cope with uncertainty.
Susan McPherson, the author of the new book The Lost Art of Connecting, recently told Reuters, “the return to normal interaction won’t happen suddenly. We won’t go from zero to 60 on day one.” She predicts we will get back into it eventually, with smaller, safer gatherings to begin with, and advises “It’s rare in life to get an opportunity for a total reset -- and now we have that.”
With that in mind, what are new best practices as we emerge from our COVID cocoons? We spoke with Laura Coburn, a certified Ayurveda Health Counselor and Director of Serenity at the Inns of Aurora, and here are her top five tips to transition out of the “COVID comfort zones”:
1. Be mindful: Mindfulness is perhaps the most important habit you can cultivate for any transition. Be present in all your choices and actions. Look around you and pay attention to where you are and what you are doing. Observe how you feel. This compassionate witnessing will inform your next steps.
2. Be gentle: Be gentle with yourself and others. No matter how tough you are, the last year has asked you to dig deep and grapple with change and loss. You may be tender. Treat yourself with care and all those you encounter with kindness as well.
3. Set boundaries: It's okay to establish a set of guidelines for yourself and make others aware of your boundaries. For example, you may gather with others indoors with a mask on and with plenty of distance between you but not be ready to share a meal in proximity unmasked.
4. Be prepared: As you venture out, pack some safety supplies and have a plan. Your plan may include alternative modes of travel, and how to communicate your needs and boundaries to others.
5. Start slow: The adage "walk before you run" is applicable here. Diving in with both feet is certainly a strategy, but when it comes to managing change or learning to navigate human contact in a pandemic, easy does it. Try on situations a few at a time and keep interactions brief.
Bonus tip: In terms of reconnecting with work colleagues, McPherson advises, "It’s a good moment to reach out and ask people ‘How are you really doing?’ and not have to fake anything. In normal times, that’s hard. But when life sucks for everybody, it’s okay."