Reentry into the world post-vaccine can feel scary and unpredictable.
It’s completely normal to be feeling anxiety about it! We’ve spent over a year trying to figure out how to live away from people, it’s natural that it’s going to take a little while to adjust back to being around them again! And now especially that the CDC has given vaccinated folks the green light to go maskless in public, it makes sense that you might be feeling a spike in your social and covid anxiety.
Today we’ve put together some journal prompts to help you work through any of those feelings that might be coming up for you. Journaling is a great way to untangle your thoughts when they feel messy and overwhelming. It also is a practice that can help you with mindfulness–as you journal you are practicing acknowledging your thoughts while not clinging to them. As you write you are able to release them which can help you be more present in the moment.
And journaling is also a great way to connect with and express how you’re feeling in a controlled and safe environment. You don’t have to worry about other peoples thoughts or reactions–it’s a private space just for you.
So, with that in mind, here are 5 journal prompts to help you work through any post-vaccine anxiety you may be feeling:
What is it I’m in control of?
In new situations, you won’t be in control of everything, but you can explore what you can control to help ease that anxiety and make choices better suited to you. For example, even if you’re vaccinated, you can choose to continue to wear a mask to new places even though the CDC says you don’t have to anymore. If it helps you to feel comfortable reentering spaces, keep the mask on as long as you need! While you can’t control what others do you can politely ask others to wear a mask around you, and if they won’t you can decide to step further away from them.
What is it I’m not in control of? (And how can I deal with that when the time comes?)
These are likely the things causing some anxiety in you. For example, you’re not in control of whether or not others get vaccinated. But you can choose to only be around vaccinated people unmasked indoors. Other people’s unpredictability can feel stressful, so it’s nice to have a “plan of attack” on how you can deal with those stressful scenarios. It also helps to remind you that you’re not totally powerless and have control over your own behavior.
What is the root of the fear?
Is it just hard wired into you now? Do you still worry about getting others sick? Talk yourself through the logic! Is it germ spreading you’re afraid of? Do some research! Read sources from the CDC or scientists to learn what exactly getting the vaccine means and how you can continue to do your best to keep those around you safe. Then–when you’ve found the info from credited sources–don’t pay attention to what people on social media are saying! You can’t verify it, and it will probably just give you more anxiety. Doing this research can help you know what is a true risk and what is just anxiety. To help, you could create a checklist to this effect so when these thoughts and fears come up you can say “well actually…” and work your way through the checklist.
What habits have you developed over the last year that makes you feel safe?
Not every change we made in the pandemic is bad! There are probably things you do now that you didn’t do a year and a half ago that are positive additions to your life. What are those things? It can be hard to think of them but here’s one example: when was the last time you got a cold? Things like the flu and the common cold were less prevalent in the last year because we were all wearing masks in public. Wearing a mask when feeling sick so as not to spread it around can be a positive change you’ve had.
Other positive changes could be things like improved accessibility for events, workplaces, etc. Think about what personal changes you’ve made in the last year that you think will continue to serve you beyond the pandemic. Use them as an example of how you can survive and find positives even in extremely hard times
What is the tradeoff?
Ask yourself what is your anxiety preventing you from doing? Is it a fair trade off? For example: let’s say a friend invites you to a party where you don’t know most of the people and it’s all indoors. You might feel too anxious to go, but would you have had a good time at a party of strangers when you’re feeling that anxious anyway? Is it something you miss in your life? Things that would cause more anxiety than the amount of joy they would bring are probably not worth it.
If your best friend who lives out of town is coming back for one weekend and asks you to get coffee and you feel too anxious–that’s probably not a trade off you agree with! Work out when it’s worth it to try and manage those anxious feelings, and when it’s not. The pandemic has been hard on all of us and it’s going to take time to re-enter again, so prioritizing can help you do it in the least anxiety-inducing and most fulfilling way you can.
This past year has been really hard, and as life goes back to normal things might continue to be hard. Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX, has experienced counselors that specialize in anxiety treatment and grief to help you process your grief over the last year and cope with the changes still to come. Call us today at (832) 413-2410 or book an online counseling appointment.