Updated: Oct 26, 2020
As our Province begins the reopening of Phase 3, the sense of leaving home and reentering the community can evoke a sense of fear, concern and hesitancy. Firstly, I want all of you to know, it is normal to feel anxious after spending 3 months in the forms of quarantine, physical distancing, and for others, remaining isolated at home where your work life and home life have become fully integrated as the result of a pandemic. Readjusting back to a public life and re-connection to community after a prolonged period of remaining in the emergency lockdown does highlight, for many, feelings of anxiety. Part of reintegration and resuming life in public, beyond your home and other defined personal safe zones is now learning to adjust to our "New Realities" that will become the new normal.
How can I manage my anxiousness during the reopening phase from COVID?
1. Remember the Community Is Engaged in Keeping You Safe
Healthcare facilities, businesses including malls, stores, restaurants are beginning to adjust and develop strategies to meet government regulations for safety during this pandemic. What is encouraging is that Ontario has done a fantastic job at not only crushing the curve, but also keeping it low. It is important to remember that when leaving your home, guidelines are in place to support your safety within the nonprofit and business sectors within the community. The community is learning to adapt and adjust to these NEW realities, by balancing community safety standards to minimize transmission while supporting the economic livelihood for businesses and individuals within the community. Keeping everyone safe by adhering to the COVID-19 governmental reopening standards is in everyone's best interest. Please review the links below for more information regarding these standards to be personally informed.
2. Read and be informed by credible sources
Be aware of your local public health safety approaches to mitigate personal risk for COVID. The Region of Niagara has a COVID-19 information line that can answer any questions you may have. Here is the link to this information line. https://niagararegion.ca/health/covid-19/default.aspx I would recommend that should you have questions specific on how to keep yourself safe during reopening, please reach out to them. Also, other self-protective ways to minimize risk of transmission include:
• Stay home if you're sick
• Clean and wash your hands often
• Cover your cough or sneeze
• Keep your distance from others
• Do not share personal items
• Clean, clean, clean and disinfect
• Wear a face covering
• For more information: https://www.niagararegion.ca/health/covid-19/protect-yourself.aspx
3. Follow your facts AND feelings
Now that you are informed about the facts regarding the COVID regulations for business and Public Health guidelines to keep yourself safe, this needs to be your "New Reality". Where you see that these standards are not being adhered to by either a business or community individuals, make an informed decision to keep your safe. With the reopening, often there is a feeling that "everything is ok now" by many. Be aware of this mindset and follow FACTs from credible sources. It is OK to be more cautious where you notice there may be situations, environments or individuals that deviate from what is being advised.
4. Take gradual steps
Its ok to start with small little tasks when reintegrating back to the community. Start with things that you might be comfortable with. Plan an outing in public even daily. Maybe just go for a walk and then connect with a neighbour practicing physical distancing. Then you might progress to a drive thru, and then when you feel more comfortable, go into a small shop or store that has proper COVID-19 restrictions in place. You might even after all of this consider a lunch at a physically distanced outdoor patio.
5. Exposure is the Key
Exposing yourself to the source of your anxiousness is the best medicine to concurring and lessening your fears to reengage the community. It is important that you start with small exposures, like learning to swim, but in the shallow end, and then building on the exposure to more difficult and challenging fears, like moving into the deep end of the pool. There is no other way to say this - but each day needs to be a NIKE moment - Just Do IT!!
So, remember, your fears are a normal response, to an extraordinary situation - a pandemic. The key to overcoming your fears is to get the FACTS and become informed. Learn what you need to do, based on credible sources to keep yourself safe. Then start to slowly leave your home - and gently lean into your fears and invite it to tea. Keep doing your exposures and increase the exposure in frequency and intensity. By doing this, you will lower your fears and transition to community in a meaningful way - so that you can live life beyond your home and reconnect to your community