As restrictions lift and our freedom slowly returns, some of us may be feeling differently than we thought we would for things to go back to normal. Regardless of whether you're feeling nervous about socializing after months of spending time alone or excited about returning to a more active role in society, here are seven tips to help you throughout this transition: 

  1. Set healthy and flexible boundaries.  Identify your comfort zone or your window of tolerance, where you can work, live, and socialize within. As time goes on and you adapt, you can adjust it as needed. That recovery and reentry is not a jump-in-the-pool experience; but more of a slow, gradual progression. 

  2. Consider your new priorities. For some of us, self-isolation was an incentive for self-discovery. It required us to pause and reflect on how we spend our time, energy, and money. Perhaps you've learned to value your alone time or discovered that you'd rather stay in on a Saturday night than go out. Take some time to reprioritize and build habits that align with your values.

  3. Plan and think ahead. If you're worried about seeing certain people or are nervous about interactions at work, take a step back. Social anxiety has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. Allow yourself to evaluate what things might make you feel socially anxious or insecure. Play out these scenarios and ask yourself what you can do to establish some grounding or safety sense. A small amount of exposure to social situations at a time will ultimately help you adjust.

  4. Adjust your routine. Just as it took all of us some time to adapt and find ways of coping when lockdown began, we should expect that it'll take some time to find our way back. If you're returning to work, try to get into your morning routine at home beforehand-meaning waking up at a particular time, getting dressed, and planning for your morning commute. If you don't have any upcoming changes to your schedule, maintaining a routine and staying consistent with your time is always healthy.

  5. Allow yourself to feel worried or anxious. Uncertainty has been a significant theme throughout the last year. And as things start to shift, it's no different. It's normal to feel anxious or nervous, so embrace those feelings and validate yourself for having them. You may benefit from writing out your thoughts or talking to a friend. Chances are, they'll feel similarly.

  6. Practice self-care. You may feel that you have lost control of many things over the past several months, but it is essential to recognize the things you can control and take full advantage of them-such as self-care. It's necessary to take care of yourself to build resilience to change and manage daily stressors. Remember to take breaks throughout your day, and set aside some time for things you enjoy!

  7. Ask for help when you need it. If your levels of stress and anxiety start to interfere with your job, relationships, and other aspects of your life, please consider working with a mental health professional. They’ll help you cope with your symptoms and support you throughout this transition.