The COVID-19 vaccine provides reassurances in keeping us physically protected, yet it does not automatically reduce or eliminate our anxiety, change in that way is going to take time and patience after all we have endured the past 18 months. Everyone is moving at their own pace when it comes to post quarantine; some folks have jumped at the chance to see a movie, go out to dinner, attend a sports event, or host a dinner party. For others, even if they are fully vaccinated, they are experiencing anxiety about relaxing their safety protocols. It is important to recognize and respect that we all have a pace that works best for ourselves.
So, how do you stay in your comfort zone and move at your own pace during this pandemic phase? This may be a perfect time to set and maintain boundaries that make you feel comfortable.
First, decide where you would like to draw the line for you and your immediate household. Do you feel comfortable asking about vaccine status? Do you feel comfortable with an outdoor, distanced, or masked get-together? Once you have discussed and made decisions, communicate this information clearly and with no apologies to your family/friends.
Second, hold no judgment. It is not uncommon to have different opinions than your family or friends about moving out of quarantine. Using judgmental language or labels is not productive to having open and understanding relationships. Instead, use “I” statements to emphasize your needs rather than the ways you disagree with other’s choices. Centering your statement on yourself helps to take the sense of blame or negativity from the other person so they will not feel defensive. Last, practice what you are going to say so you can present your stance clearly and respectfully. Always remember, you have the right to make your own decisions and set boundaries that make you feel safe and comfortable.
Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC