Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper Shop Hello! Create with us

Stepping into a new future and post-pandemic anxiety

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 06, 2021 5:00 am

I am lockdown-weary. We have all been living under a rock for over a year and I am looking forward to eventually reentering the world when this dreaded pandemic is over.

It will end. Vaccinations are taking place on a global scale and a few countries are finally opening up. The question is: how do we emerge from our hibernation and bravely face our changed world? I know am not alone in feeling this post-pandemic anxiety.

It’s a strange and perplexing feeling, this fear of COVID that has transformed into a fear of the outside world. Uncertainty of everything dominates my thoughts.

How can I confidently walk into a packed room again and know that I am safe? In what form will socializing take place? How will the business landscape dictate my work life? Where is everybody? What am I going to do? What excuse do I now give people I really was avoiding pre-pandemic?

Everything will definitely be different, but most importantly, I am different. This pandemic afterlife will be stepping into the unknown, internally and externally. What does our new future even look like?

The thought of stepping out overwhelms me. As we enter our new civilization and meet people once again, we have to relearn how to acquaint ourselves with others. Adjustments need to be made mentally and physically. There are these seemingly insignificant things, but they are not to me.

When I first stepped out of my little world to briefly enter a family “bubble,” I noticed some awkwardness in interaction, stunted conversations, and an effort to go with the flow. I needed a couple of days to get into the groove, so to speak.

After wearing dusters (hello, tita!) all the time, how can I possibly wear anything that even skims my body? My feet will need to adjust to proper shoes again and say goodbye to my well-loved slippers. I can’t even fathom wearing high heels like I used to in my past life. The thought of applying makeup is like an insurmountable project. I used to love makeup but now I love my makeup-less face.

These concerns were unimportant during the lockdown and to muster the energy for this just drains me. How was this even part of my life without realizing it took so much out of me? Plus, I read that anxiety affects more women than men. So yeah, double whammy.

However, in the article titled “My Reopening Anxiety Is Real, But Here’s How I’m Handling It” in Good Housekeeping, Lizz Schumer states that anxiety is good and is a tool to manage fears and helps you move forward with safety and security. Well, that’s reassuring. “Getting enough sleep, limiting alcohol and caffeine and learning what triggers you” is a good start.

Pre-COVID dynamics had us seeing ourselves through our own lens but also through others. That disappeared when we were in lockdown as our circle got smaller. Facing yourself with no comparison taken from social interaction feels unbalanced at first, but it is also a great reality check. In a way, many “found themselves” during the lockdown and there was a lot of self-rediscovery. But this bubble will burst sooner or later and there will be a wave of “other views and opinions” entering our lives once again.

When I first stepped out of my little world to briefly enter a family “bubble,” I noticed some awkwardness in interaction, stunted conversations, and an effort to go with the flow. I needed a couple of days to get into the groove, so to speak.

In the piece “Confidence: Has Spending Time Alone During the Pandemic Taken its Toll on Your Self-Esteem?” by Lauren Geall on stylist.co.uk, the writer says “whereas before I might have gone into a social situation without a second thought, I’m now doubting everything I say, worrying about what other people think of me and generally feeling unsure about myself and the way I present myself to the world.” She hit the nail on the head.

As for me, I want to take it easy and not dive into the world full-on. I want to slip back slowly. I have had a lot of time to think of what I want to do “when this is all over.’

The WFH (work from home) formula adopted by companies was a great discovery during the pandemic and is dictating business models for the near future. People are realizing much can be accomplished at home and are choosing to do this. A hybrid of WFH and physically going to work can actually be productive for some industries.

In a Harvard Business Review article “Don’t Let Your Employees Pick Their WFH Days” by Nicolas Bloom, the author mentions “I’m finding that about 70 percent of firms, from tiny companies to massive multinationals like Google, Citi and HSBC, plan to move to some form of hybrid working.” The article further states that 32 percent of employees, mostly those with families, say they never want to return to working in the office. Partially doing your work at home has psychological benefits, in my view.

Other changes to our new normal post-COVID life include fewer social face-to-face encounters, as mentioned in Bernard Marr’s “9 Future Predictions for a Post-Coronavirus World” at forbes.com. Included in the list are: contactless interaction and interfaces, strengthened digital infrastructure, telemedicine, and more online shopping and digital events.

On the other hand, there is optimism and excitement. People abroad are already looking forward to their “vaccication,” where they can enjoy traveling and getting their jabs at the same time. Prepping for emergence from their cocoons, there has been a reported increase in the sales of lipstick, teeth whiteners and even deodorant (hmmm…) in the US. I guess it’s anything that psychologically makes individuals feel that they are ready again for society.

As for me, I want to take it easy and not dive into the world full-on. I want to slip back slowly. I have had a lot of time to think of what I want to do “when this is all over.” First and foremost, I want to see those who are dear to me. Then, I plan to spend time outdoors, in wide, crazy-open spaces. Last but not least is to do what brings me joy now — no delaying. I have a bucket list in my mind and I better start moving.