STANWOOD, Wash. — For 12 long months, Megan Dascher-Watkins' Stanwood living room has been her sanctuary. A place of pithy Facebook posts and endless Netflix binges.
"I have to say, it was kind of nice to take a break from life," Dascher-Watkins said.
Now, though, that break is coming to an end, and Dascher-Watkins isn't sure how she feels about that. Experts warn there might be a period of adjustment as COVID-19 restrictions loosen — and anxieties tighten.
"There's a little bit of anxiousness there. It's kind of like your first day of school. That's kind of what it feels like," Dascher-Watkins said.
In two weeks, Washington state will loosen some restrictions, allowing for more people inside businesses, such as restaurants and gyms, and allowing events of up to 400 people with social distancing measures in place.
Nearly 10% of people in Washington state have been fully vaccinated, and President Joe Biden is aiming for at least small group gatherings by the Fourth of July.
Dascher-Watkins describes herself as a very social person. Yet, she says she struggles with how it will be to interact with people once again, face-to-face.
"It's gonna probably take a while to adjust to being social again. I mean, how long is it gonna take for me to feel comfortable again leaving my home and venturing out?"
During the lockdown, we've discovered hand sanitizer is the elixir of life. We're now on a first-name basis with our Amazon delivery guy. Masks have changed the face of how we interact.
And we've discovered pants are totally optional.
Dascher-Watkins said there are certain parts of the pandemic she will definitely miss.
"Everyone was forced to slow down. Traffic was nice and for the most part, people have been really caring and treating each other well. I hope that doesn't change. And yes, I have been spotted in town pumping gas in my pajamas. I'm not ashamed."
It's a sort of COVID-19 Stockholm Syndrome where we have come to accept and even appreciate our coronavirus captor.
Psychotherapist Annette Nunez of Breakthrough Interventions said, as we are forced to put on pants and come out of our bubbles, it's important to take things one step at a time.
Give yourself a schedule as our frantic pace increases.
Maybe even ask your boss if you can still work from home, part-time, for a little while, as you transition back to the workplace.
"We've been in a little bubble for a year now. To break out of that bubble is going to be hard. We have to start with new routines and new schedules," Nunez said. "Ease into the process because as much as COVID changed your life in the beginning, the change going back into the world again is going to be just as big."
Nunez also advises parents to talk with their kids about post-pandemic life. Ask about their concerns and anxieties as we all head back into the real world together.