After a year of strict quarantine policies and closed borders, the world is slowly attempting to return to normal. Australia recently announced its plans to reopen international borders starting November, according to reports from ABC News. Other countries in the UK, USA, and Canada, among others, are also planning to follow suit as 2021 comes to an end. This is great news for those coming from green countries who are planning on going on a holiday, or for those who were unable to return to their home countries. However, we mustn’t be complacent, as the virus still remains a threat.
Maintain good hygiene practices
Even for those who have already gotten the vaccine, it’s crucial to maintain good hygiene practices. Practice handwashing when you’re outdoors, before and after meals, and after using the restroom. As advised by Healthdirect Australia, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for more than 20 seconds. Moreover, disinfect all items that are frequently touched, such as doorknobs, car door handles, or your mobile phone. This helps not only prevent you from contracting COVID-19 but also mitigates the spread of other viral diseases.
Cultivate a healthy lifestyle
Alongside maintaining a well-balanced diet with vitamins and minerals from different food groups, maintaining your physical health is also key. As sports events return, make sure you’re also engaging in moderate exercise. Studies have shown that being physically active reduces the incidence of bacterial and viral infections, as well as non-communicable diseases. You can contact your gym or exercise facility to ask about the measures that they have in place for hygiene. But if you aren’t at ease, you can still be active at home through yoga, Pilates, and even aerobics.
Avoid crowded settings
While it can be tempting to instantly jump into ‘The New Normal’, it’s still important to take precautions. For those returning to their workplaces, uphold hygiene standards, temperature control, and follow social distancing regulations for everyone’s safety. Avoid crowded settings like festivals or concerts in the meantime, especially those being held in red areas, or areas with high cases. Additionally, limit your contact with others, particularly during your daily commute or when you’re in a public facility. Finally, wear your mask when you head outdoors or, at least, have one with you that you can easily put on.
Tend to your mental health
The worries you might experience as the world goes through the uneasy transition back to normal shouldn’t be downplayed. Psychiatrist David Burns writes in his book ‘Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy‘ that thoughts that are constantly dominated by negativity could warp the way you look at things. This ultimately affects your moods and could cause you to struggle with anxieties and even depression. Thus, it is important to try to think positively and not get overwhelmed by your concerns. Engage in activities that can help keep your emotions in check, such as talk therapy, meditation, or self-soothing exercises.
Acknowledge any fears you might have
In line with tending to one’s mental health, know that it’s perfectly normal to feel apprehensive about returning to normal. Some see the reopening borders as a threat to the new routines that they have finally become used to. But as Psychotherapist Julia Samuel highlights in her work ‘This Too Shall Pass’, change is only often partly under our control. You can let someone you trust, such as your partner, a family member, a friend, or your therapist, know about any reopening anxiety you’re experiencing. With this, you’ll have the support you need as you venture back into society.
As borders reopen, don’t push yourself to reintegrate into society immediately. Instead, take things at your own pace for the sake of your physical health and emotional wellness. After all, healthy habits entail caring for your body and mind, wherever you are.
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Prepared by: Jonah Bartt.