Thanks to California’s high vaccination rates and falling COVID-19 cases, the state has announced its plan to reopen on June 15th.
This means that most of the State’s restrictions will be lifted, and fully vaccinated people will be allowed to do most of the activities they were doing before the pandemic, without needing to wear a mask. That includes going to the gym, hitting the mall, seeing a movie or going to church. And of course, seeing our loved ones!
However, given that the pandemic is not over and there are still many vulnerable people in our communities, vaccinated people will need to wear masks in hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters and during travel (including air travel and mass transit).
Keep in mind, if you're not vaccinated, you are required to wear a mask just like before.
So what is this going to be like? After nearly 16 months of the pandemic, what will it feel like to go back to normal?
Great, right? Well, that depends on who you ask.
The truth is that although many people are happy to get back to normal activities -- and hugging grandma is just about the best thing in the world -- not everyone is feeling the same level of excitement. Many of us are feeling anxiety about what’s ahead.
Lots of people are worried about what it’s going to be like at social gatherings again, or returning to the office. They are feeling awkward and a little fearful of the demands of small talk or carrying on conversations with groups of people. There is also the returning stress of commuting long distances or the pressures of work and other obligations that they enjoyed not having for all these months.
We’re out of practice, so of course it feels scary.
Let's also consider deeper worries people have about going back to the way things were. Our world has suffered unimaginable loss. People have struggled throughout the pandemic with isolation, grief, sickness and sadness. Millions have lost jobs,income, and people we love.
It is stressful for some people who are wondering if returning to normal life is even possible. Does returning to normal life also mean sweeping these difficult things back under the rug?
Keep in mind that you are not alone if you are feeling unsettled by the world opening up again. Understand that those feelings are normal. If you think you need support, reach out to others; family, friends, or a mental health professional, that can help talk through this transition phase.
Asking for help can be the healthiest thing we do in life.
The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) supports the wellbeing of our County residents and communities. LACDMH’s Help Line is available 24/7 to provide mental health support, resources and referrals at (800) 854-7771.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline Database or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (operated 24/7), for information and referrals if you or a loved one are facing mental health and/or substance use issues.
Remember: We are in this together and we will get through this together.
(Artwork by Eric "KING-CRE8" Walker, 'Wear a Mask" from the Department of Cultural Affair and the Emergency Management Department's Art of Well-Being series promoting wellness as we move together into recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.)