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Reentering the World After Lockdown

By Tanya Cole-Lesnick, LCSW, PLLC



The pandemic isn’t over exactly, but as we head into the spring, as more and more people are

getting vaccinated, schools are returning to in-person, and other bans have been lifted, our hope to “get back to normal” is growing.


Although, I don’t believe we will return to what was—parts of our world are forever changed from what we all went through. Which changes will stick and which will shift, though, are yet to be seen. There is a journey yet to be had. As we’ve said throughout the pandemic, one step at a time.


We’ve been hearing from a lot of our clients these days about the anxiety that’s been triggered by the idea of reentering the world after the year of the pandemic. For some there’s excitement, for others more apprehension. And most of us, including the Lighthouse team, are experiencing some of both.


It’s been quite a year, that’s for sure. The pandemic impacted all of us, and the range of that impact was wide; from those who were sick and continue to feel the lasting effects of COVID-19 both physically and emotionally, to those who suffered the devastating loss of loved ones and continue to grieve, to the more subtle annoyances of restricted day-to-day choices that have consumed our lives.


There were definitely themes of impact— pain, grief, devastation, feelings of isolation and disconnection, too much family “togetherness,” too few of the activities that help many of us feel more balanced in our lives, boredom, increased depression and anxiety.


Our kids lost out on things like prom and graduation and time with friends. Jobs were lost and difficult to come by, finances for many got really complicated.


Extroverts—who get energized by connecting with other people—lost a real source of energy and joy. For many of our introverts, though, there was a comfort and permission in the isolation and time spent at home.


School was a nightmare for many, while others thrived with the new way of learning. Parents of school-aged children, who’ve always had a lot on their plate, had to juggle even more. An unbelievable amount of even more.


For some, working from home was a dream. Wearing casual and comfortable clothing all day long became the norm. But others felt too alone, too isolated, and had difficulty separating work from the rest of their lives.


For some self-care improved, for others it suffered. In some homes closets got cleaned out and home repair and improvements got done. Others experienced feelings of guilt about not doing those things.


For many of us, our emotional issues, some we may have felt we’d healed long ago, resurfaced and tugged at us for attention.


And dealing with the virus itself opened up the division between those who are more worried and cautious vs. those who are less so, those who believe in vaccines and those who don’t, those who appreciated the mask rule, among others, and those who do not.


Not to mention the political climate and the racial unrest that reverberated throughout the country and the world as we grasped for stability and struggled to adjust to a new life amidst the pandemic.


As I said (and as we all know) it’s been quite a year.


Take it one step at a time. Going back out into the world with some excitement and some anxiety, let’s start there. What does that mean for most of us?


Reconnecting with friends in person. Going back out into the physical world. Returning to activities that had been put on hold. Travel.


For many, the pandemic allowed for a slower pace. People got used to this slower pace and many embraced it. Others can’t wait to be busier again. Either way, let’s not lose sight of the gifts of a slower pace—a chance to breathe, to check in with ourselves, to come back to center.


As we reenter the world, let’s be mindful of old patterns of saying yes too much. Of agreeing to ways of spending our time that might not be our most authentic choices. Let’s be more discerning—about people we surround ourselves with, activities we engage in, and the pace in which we move through life. Let’s honor how we really want to live, what it means to be in alignment, what we authentically want and need. And while doing all of that, let’s make sure to continue to make time for rest and quiet.


And when the anxiety or grief or apprehension show up let’s listen to what we may need for each of those. For that we need to get quiet, take a breath, and go inside. Sometimes it’s a push we need. Sometimes it’s a step back. Always, it’s kindness. Little by little, step by step.


As we prepare for what’s next as the world opens back up some (knock on wood), let’s all make a commitment to doing it better. To honor ourselves more—what is the pace that’s comfortable for each of us, how do we choose where we put our energy, what boundaries are needed? And from that place of living in alignment I trust that there will be more joy and kindness between us, which would ultimately mean a better world for us all.


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