Vaccinated? Back to the Office!
With vaccination statistics rising and inoculation allowing most of us to return to a level of pre-COVID normality, we find ourselves facing a new albeit minor crisis; how to reintegrate back into office culture and public life at large.
While this may seem like a simple adjustment, the transition will prove more difficult than one might assume, due to a variety of health concerns, both physical and behavioral. COVID-19 has changed our cultural approach in a variety of ways; we find ourselves collectively more aware of viral transmission then ever before and are subsequently wary of close, personal interaction sans masks. This proves problematic due to the reduction in ability to read faces and expression anywhere beyond the eyes, something we generally rely upon to capture the subtle nuances of mood.
Additionally, we potentially suffer from a newfound form of social anxiety. Numerous studies have documented the social anxiety experienced by inmates having been placed in solitary confinement for long periods of time; without meaningful and direct human interaction on a regular basis, we tend towards a more exaggerated series of behaviors. As we reenter society at large, these exaggerations and aberrations have strong potential to alienate others from ourselves, and ourselves from others as we recognize these traits.
In summary of the above, we have our work cut out for us.
From a non-behavioral health focus, what can we do to ease our normalization and reintroduction of social and business life after spending the last year hiding away? Well, there are several tactics. When it comes to business interactions and attending office functions, pushing oneself into the artifice of an outgoing personality can help.
If you previously rarely attended post-work social time, happy hours, and lunch outings? Do so and do it often. Push yourself to assimilate that mentality, the freedom from concern comes naturally as conversation flows and imbibements are available. Within the work environment itself, make the rounds and visit your peers or new hires, sharing bland and mindless pleasantries to help reinforce a connection.
On a more personal front, once vaccinated?
Attend solo activities in public if reintegration is a struggle.
See a film in theaters, among your peers but in a self-contained social bubble.
Go to a local restaurant and enjoy a meal; able to listen to and watch others without being enveloped in these things before you are ready.
Or simply go for a walk at a popular local park; enjoy wandering amongst families picnicking and friends engaging one another, all while being aloof.
Overall, we all have the potential to rejoin our prior lives and possibly take this opportunity to even enhance our prior life, through purposeful efforts and a change of focus. We are all empowered to make this change and make the best of our time; if nothing else, COVID-19 has taught us that we should cherish the moments we have and take full advantage of the options available to us. Go forth and party likes it is 2019!