How do I come out of quarantine?
The information provided through Ask a Therapist is not intended to be a substitute for professional mental health therapy, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided is solely for educational purposes. We encourage you to call United Action for Youth Counseling Department at 319-338-7518 and set up an appointment with one of our licensed mental health professionals to further discuss concerns and treatment options. If you believe you are a danger to self or others please call 911 or the crisis hotline at 1-855-800-1239.
Your situation reminds me of starting school in the fall after a long and glorious summer – most of us don’t want to and feel like we’ve “forgotten how” – even though the truth is we are just out of the habit. Many of us are going to be slowly coming out of our Quarantine Lifestyles and venturing back to in-person socializing after spending over a year focusing on isolation and safety.
Recognize that some of your hesitance is likely rooted in anxiety. You have learned how to keep yourself safe during a global pandemic, and that was a big adjustment. Now you are being asked to do things that you have actively avoided for over a year. Your brain will likely see these social interactions as a threat to your safety, even though the situation has changed and you’re not in danger (please keep practicing safety precautions in public!). Go easy on yourself and take it slow. Ask yourself “is this really a danger to my safety, or has it just been a long time since I’ve spent time in-person with people?” Start with small commitments – an hour or so together outside – and see how it goes. It took time to adjust to your pandemic lifestyle, and will take a minute to adjust to getting back out there. Remind yourself how difficult it has been in quarantine, and that spending time with people we care about in-person is worth it and something that you really missed.
A note about introverts and extroverts, since you brought it up. These terms get used a lot in everyday conversations, and they mean something a little different when we’re talking about personality and behavior. Introversion and extroversion are more about two main things: where you focus your attention, and how you refill your emotional batteries.
Extroverted people focus their attention outward, on people and things and tend to think more about how they can impact people around them. For people who are more introverted, your attention is much more focused on yourself, and how people and situations affect you. We are all a blend of these at different times and knowing how you’re feeling can help you decide what is helpful. Introverted times can benefit from getting out of your head and in to action by talking to people when things are bothering you, and moving in to action faster. Extroverted periods of time call for a little more self-reflection and can benefit from slowing things down, listening instead of responding, and making a plan of action.
The name of the game is balance – the more “extroverted” you feel, the more you can benefit from practicing introverted skills and vice versa.
Good Luck and be safe out there!