Coping mechanisms: Let's try laughter

 More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic things are changing for the better, but we're not out of the woods (or masks) yet. It doesn't look like we will be for a while. It's hard to look back on this year without crying, laughing, or just cringing with anxiety.

The expectations of what a year tucked away at home could be in stark contrast with the reality of what it was for most of us: just surviving with our sanity in tact. So, let's take a minute and laugh at the year while we think about our next steps towards what will become our new normal.


We all used coping mechanisms of some kind to get through day to day. Even if you felt pretty okay being home, there was always anxiety about going out into the world or that hovering sense of being trapped. 

Did you start or expand upon a hobby? Did you go overboard to "fill the void?" What hobby did you think you'd spend time on, but didn't?


We've all formed new habits. Some might be really positive, like focusing on and prioritizing your own mental health. These are the ones you should try and bring with you as life continues to change as quarantine protocols are lifted.
However, there are plenty of negative habits that we've developed to help us get through tough times. Pay attention to these habits and see what you can do to trade them in for more positive habits. Habits aren't created or changed overnight. Identifying what needs to change is the first step, and now is a great time to take that step.

Even with the best of intentions and in the best circumstances it's hard to change our habits. 

What habits have you created that you hope to keep? What habits are you hoping to change?


We're moving forward and getting back to things we haven't been able to do. The CDC has said it's cool for vaccinated people to get together unmasked now!
This news should fill you with joy, right? But for many people it actually fills them with dread and feelings of anxiety.
We've created habits of caution, often fueled by fear of the unknown (remember when we didn't even know how the virus was transmitted?) or the known (and then when we knew how easily it was transmitted by breathing close to another human?). Your brain created those habits to help you survive, and they will be difficult to change. That's normal.

It's okay not to be overjoyed at the idea of social encounters again, like with strangers out in public or with friends in private. It's okay to want to stay inside alone while simultaneously wishing you could be hanging out with people again. 
It's all okay. Remember this important fact: Nothing lasts forever. You'll adjust, even if it takes you more (or less!) time than other people. 
You'll get there.

For anyone who struggled with social anxiety before, the idea of returning to "normal" can seem actually impossible. 

Would you be ready to jump right back into your normal routine if things changed back to normal overnight? What feelings do you have about socializing and being in crowds again?


You've survived a year of intense change and fear. You've made it to this day and that in itself is cause for celebration. Whatever you did or did not accomplish this year, whatever positive or negative habits you created to get you through, whatever coping strategies you came up with, the important thing is: YOU ARE HERE!

And I'm so glad you are here!
While we're making all our big plans (or tiny plans) for the next few days, months, and years please remember to be kind to yourself.

Let's celebrate our quarantine survival, because it's a HUGE ACHEIVEMENT! 


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