As enforced isolation restrictions begin to ease, re-establishing connections with friends, family and the community may be met with a kind of reverse culture shock, typically associated with returning home from overseas travel.
By gradually involving ourselves in activities and events held in our community, we can strengthen the sense of belonging we all search for and benefit our mental health as we reconnect with society.
A simple conversation with a friend or even someone you haven’t met before can do wonders for clearing the mind and learning more about ourselves.
We are part of a diverse range of communities, based on things like hobbies, interests, neighbourhood, religion, friend circles and language. By choosing a community and engaging with like-minded people online now, we can set ourselves up for a soft and successful re-integration once restrictions are lifted.
Taking advantage of the rules around smaller congregations of people initially will be an important step forward for all of us in rekindling the fires of friendship that may have been snuffed out by the pandemic.
Dr. Kimberley Norris, a clinical psychologist researching reintegration at UTAS, has found that most of us may have a better idea of our personal values and an increased inclination to act on them during the period of isolation. She added that our personal relationships are likely to improve too.
Whilst it may be some time before things fully return to what we consider as “normal”, it provides us with an outstanding opportunity to identify these values which are most meaningful to us and demonstrate them amongst friends, family and in our communities.
In the interim, maintaining a social presence online and adhering to a structured daily routine will help greatly in mitigating some of the issues created by COVID.