“When will things return to normal?”

This is a question we all have asked ourselves – consciously or unconsciously. There is surely a communal longing to feel a sense of safety and normalcy again. When will we be able to greet someone without awkward hesitation?  When will we be able to travel without fear of judgment from others? When will we be able to have conversations that don’t involve politics or “the virus”? When will the fear and heartache of loss end?

We are living in a time where there seems to be more questions than answers. For this reason, it feels like the idea of life returning to normal is a distant dream. The development of the vaccine offers hope, but there is still so much that is unknown. No one knows how long the vaccine offers protection or how many people that get it can still be carriers. We don’t know if there will be long-term side effects from taking the vaccine orhaving a severe case of Covid. It’s still unclear how many people will refuse to get the shot. We are just beginning to learn about the rare complications associated with certain brands of the vaccine. We don’t have a solid answer if people that have been infected with Covid can get it again. If so, how soon and how often? Will it be less severe the second time?

Until we learn the answers to most of these questions we cannot expect to begin the recovery of our pre-pandemic lives. We cannot solve the puzzle until we have all of the pieces. Keeping a positive perspective and recognizing the huge amount of progress made so far is a key component in moving forward as a society. We have a long road ahead of us. Keeping ourselves healthy (mentally and physically) while we wait for new information to emerge will make a huge difference in the recovery of the normalcy we all crave. Recognize the negative effects of isolation and take reasonable risks to balance out your mental health. Be mindful of your judgement of others, especially if they have viewpoints that differ from your own. Put your focus on improving yourself – not others. Notice if you are respecting others around you. Respect can go a long way with most people. We need to remember that we are all experiencing high levels of anxiety and are doing the best we can to get through this challenging time. This is how we can best transition back into a more normal life. It’s what we can control right now. We will get there eventually, but how we get there is up to us.

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