As COVID restrictions ease, it’s wise to prepare mentally for a new reality

Fourteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic and Dan Thoma’s morning exercise routine is shot.

The senior manager of behavioral health for Moda Health, Thoma said it’s been months since he abandoned his morning exercises – not out of laziness, injury or lack of time, but simply because of the disorder from the pandemic.

“COVID has caused a lot of disruptions to our normal routines and habits,” Thoma said. “It’s pushed a lot of us into survival mode, and in a lot of ways, when we’re in that survival mode we’re really not our best selves.”

With work, school and home lives turned upside down, people have been dealing with challenges they didn’t have before. Juggling home schooling with working remotely has been difficult for some, and levels of stress, anxiety and depression have risen fourfold.

Some people, however, have found silver linings during the pandemic. They don’t miss long commutes, or they’ve found that they enjoy spending more time around their homes.

Now, as COVID restrictions begin to ease up, people will have to prepare for a new reality. There may be stress and anxiety for some as they come out of their isolation and start interacting with others again.

“There’s going to be a lot of grief, too,” Thoma said, “grief for the lives that we’ve lost and the loved ones we’ve missed during this time. We’re really going to have to rebuild our lives – and that can be stressful for folks.”

There will be elation, relief and joy, as well. The main thing, Toma said, is for people to re-think how they want to live their lives.

“It’s a real opportunity to reevaluate what’s most important in your life,” he said. “Hopefully it’s given us an opportunity to rebuild in a way that we can be thoughtful and mindful about the things we want to do differently and the things we want to do more of as we create these new lives for ourselves.”

He also encourages folks to seek help during this transition. Mental health experts are now easier than ever to access via telehealth options that don’t require traveling to an office for appointments.

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