Ahh, the blog entry I’ve been wanting to write for so, so long.
Slowly but surely…it seems like life may, just may, be returning to normal. We’ve got a long way to go, of course, but there is light at the end of the tunnel that is getting brighter by the moment.
A quick look at the facts. As I type this entry on March 14, the United States is making real progress. Excluding an odd data dump, March 13 set the new one-day record for vaccinations, with 2.9 million people vaccinated. 100 million doses have been administered. 13% of all adults are now fully vaccinated, and about 20% of the population has had at least one dose. It’s not herd immunity, but it’s real progress, and the rate of progress is accelerating.
So, what does all this mean? The increasing rates of vaccines and the relatively steady rates of cases implies that we are starting to get to the point that we can resume normal life. Restrictions on businesses and crowds are starting to be loosened, although some states are obviously taking that way too far. Schools are starting to reopen fully or in more hybrid modes. Of course, thanks to new CDC guidelines, families are getting together again, hanging out with fully vaccinated grandparents for the first time.
On March 9, I had lunch with my Mom. Also, this happened:
My parents and in-laws – both fully vaccinated and post two-weeks – have been over, as per the CDC guidelines. There have been snuggles with the grandkids. A year’s worth of snuggles.
Of course, this is all wonderful news. It is desperately needed and wanted. Life is starting to resume. But, that asks a few questions: What does THAT mean from a mental health perspective? Specifically, what are the dangers of this new moment as life gets back to normal?
A few thoughts. First of all, readjustment will be hard for all of us. Events will resume, as will seeing people. Handshakes may come back…maybe. That’s going to be a challenge. I mean, think about it. For most of us, we’ve avoided crowds or crowded buildings. How will we adjust to being near people again?
Another example: Take events. How are any of us going to get used to being around people again? Will it cause major spikes in anxiety?
What about people who have been able to work from home and be near their kids and pets all the time? How will those individuals adjust to being away from their families again?
For people who are in psychologically vulnerable states to begin with, the readjustment may cause real issues. Keep in mind that being “forced” to stay home with loved ones hasn’t been a big problem for many! As such, it begs the question – how will individuals like this react as they resume “normal” activities? And what about people who suffer from anxiety disorders and OCD? What challenges will they face at this moment? After a year of staying home, how will they adjust to being put into an area where there are germs everywhere – even if they have been fully vaccinated?
It goes without saying that these are questions that we should all be grateful we are able to ask. I want us to get back to normal as soon as possible and to resume the lives that we left behind about a year ago. However, this moment is not without its dangers or its struggles. These are things we should monitor in order to ensure that our transition back to “normal” life goes as smoothly as possible.