As a mental health practitioner, trust me when I say: "normal" is no longer. We have to begin creating a new norm, that suits us, individually.
The state of Georgia began lifting their shelter in place orders, a couple of weeks ago. While I have no intentions on rushing out to congregate in large groups and celebrate with friends, I know that many are and are doing so, without much thought.
While thinking about this topic, I thought I would jot down some tips to gradually ease out of quarantine.
- Be gentle with yourself and feel no pressure to make plans. The past few months have been fairly relaxing for me. In general, I am not keen on being rushed to do anything or be anywhere (I am a Taurus). Washing my hair on a quarantine Friday night, after work, made me take a deeper look at how I had been living, pre-corona. My work is already taxing, but imagine working around the clock and still forcing yourself to have a social life. Quarantine allowed me to see, that I wasn't truly missing out on anything and it is completely okay to turn down an invitation "outside". We get so stuck in a race to do do do, that we forget to be be be. Moreover, BE still. Continue to shelter in place, if you so decide to. Set boundaries to what you will do and when you're feeling most comfortable to begin doing so. Don't overstay at places, if you're not feeling it.
- If your job is encouraging work-from-home, please continue to work from home, especially if there is no threat to your position.
- Reflect on your quarantine times, even if it means journaling your experience, just to get it out.
- Talk to friends and family about their experiences. Don't forget to share yours.
- Have empathy for others. Understand that we all lived through it, yet it impacted each one of us differently.
- Continue to use masks and any PPE, if it brings you comfort.
- Talk to a therapist. We all just endured something that can be considered traumatic.
- Lastly, hold space for yourself. Sit with the things that being isolated brought to the surface inside of you. If you find negative self-talk, press pause and focus on something you find gratitude in.
Truth is, the moment I began to look at this experience as a "reset", my entire mindset shifted. I hate that people have lost their lives, which is the most devastating part of this pandemic. I hate that many of us have been stricken with anxiety, PTSD, depression and other mental health/substance use challenges. But what I do know, for those of us with sound minds, we control what we consume - and I'm not just talking about food - but anything that impacts our moods, what we watch, listen to, read, the company we keep, etc. Choose wellness, more importantly, your own.
*6/11 Update: I blog in advance and schedule the posts, due to my busy work schedule. So this blog was created before the murder of George Floyd, by MN police. We are now in our 3rd week of worldwide uprisings and I cannot be more anxious to see the outcomes of the world awakening to the long suffering of Africans and African-Americans across our nations.
Black Star Square aka Independence Square (Accra, Ghana)
I spent a couple of weeks in Accra, Ghana (West Africa) in December 2019 - January 2020 and I am extremely grateful to have spent my last vacation prior to COVID-19, experiencing the Transatlantic Slave Trade for myself. It is something that I encourage everyone to do, especially given these times we are presently facing.
What I do know for sure, after studying trauma and the effects of systemic oppression, is that our mental health will be at the forefront of the outcomes. We cannot have awakening, without first examining our own beliefs, patterns and behaviors - throughout past generations - that have led us to where we are today.
In a sense, we are no longer "easing out of quarantine", but kicking the door wide open to confront racism.