05.28.21

So... Happy Together? The Road to Reconvene After COVID-19

Relationships are tough on a good day. But a year of too much interaction with some and virtually no interaction with others (except virtually) have left us wondering just how we’ll pick up the pieces. Or, repair the damage.

Whether your anxiety and hardships that came with COVID were mighty or miniscule, make no mistake, it affected us all — and in ways we never saw coming.

When stay-at-home mandates first became the norm, some predicted a post-viral baby boom. Instead, the family domicile sent couples toward more divorce lawyers than delivery rooms.

One recent survey revealed 10% of U.S. couples were strongly considering splitting up or divorcing, citing the strains of the pandemic as their primary reason.

For most of us, the pain of isolation couldn’t hold a candle to the pang of separation. A lifetime of options we’d taken for granted were gone. Travel was banned. Contact was denied. And dammit, we missed our favorite haunts, loved ones and yes, even co-workers.

But now there’s a big, beautiful light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are available. Restrictions are easing. Businesses are getting back to business. And the end of social distancing is closer than ever.

Which leaves us thrilled. And, oddly, a little apprehensive.

The trending term for that weird feeling you have is Social Reentry Anxiety.

Experts are telling us that as things get back to normal, it may not be the normal we once knew. So, they’ve suggested we keep an open mind and adjust our expectations so we can reap the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of restoring relationships.

They even gave us a few helpful hints on how to proceed:

Easy does it. We’re all in the same boat — and we’re ready to leap overboard. With that comes the temptation to fly everywhere, see everyone and eat everything all at once.

Don’t do that. It wasn’t you before, was it? Just take your time, prioritize your list and eventually you’ll hit ‘em all.

Expect the unexpected. Relationships change organically throughout our lives. The only difference between other times and pandemic times is a calendar. Be optimistic that the bond you shared with certain friends and family will remain the same or even grow stronger. But, be realistic that some relationships may take a little effort on both your parts. So, psych yourself up and hope for the best.

Make your job a work in progress. If you had a satisfying job with pleasant co-workers in a positive work environment, getting back into the work groove won’t be a problem (however, if your cubicle was next to Milton’s, we can’t guarantee he’ll turn his radio down). Over the past year, Zoom certainly helped us stay in touch and get stuff done. But there’s credence to the phrase “working side-by-side” and technology (no matter how advanced) cannot and will not ever replace that. Video conferencing had another intriguing side effect, in that it allowed us to see our co-workers in their natural habitat. We saw how they lived, and more so, the personal challenges they may have faced during the shutdown. This helped us see them in a whole new light, and gave us an appreciation for them in a whole new way.

Tighten your family ties. Like we said, relationships are tough on a good day. And as far as your children, spouse or significant other goes, just remember that you’ve all been through a lot and it changed you all in different ways. It’s time to reflect and let the healing begin. Put your egos aside and let everyone express their feelings. Communicate. Compromise. Get therapy if you want to. Just get in there and work it out. Because family relationships are the most important. And worth the effort.

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