1. Know where you stand.
Check-in with yourself and what your own personal boundaries may be. The variables are constantly changing, and knowing where you stand personally can help you to make informed decisions.
2. Know where others stand.
Family members and peers may have different comfortability levels and this may change, so you may have to check in more than once. As you are constantly changing the level of comfortability, so will others around you. You may know people who were following strict COVID protocol and then did not (or vice versa). Reiterate to others where you stand, so that they are aware, as well, and do not put yourself in uncomfortable circumstances.
3. Learn to say “No”.
It's natural to waiver on social decisions these days. One of the biggest challenges of the COVID summer has been inconsistent messaging, which leads to people having various levels of comfortability of personal risk. You may make a decision that feels comfortable in the moment, but as you sit with it, you may change your mind...OR you may not realize the anxiety that it is causing.
Trust your gut. If it feels too uncomfortable, it's ok to renege. It will be much better in the long run rather than dealing with the residual anxiety you may endure after participating in an event that did not feel safe.
The level of risk during COVID is different for everyone. This is dependent on your health status, where you live, and the health status of others around you. Saying “no” may make you feel like you are disappointing others around you, but it is likely not and it’s more important to feel safe and stay safe. Try to accept that this going to be a part of life right now.
4. Give yourself time.
A constant negotiation of boundaries is stressful! Especially, when those boundaries are around everyday decision making, it can feel exhausting. Give yourself some time. Not all decisions need to be finite. You may need more time to weigh out a decision.
5. Maintain routines.
Routines are important for everyone. They give us a sense of purpose and accountability. They also serve as a coping skill, especially when our minds tend to wander and teeter on negative thinking. Routines keep our minds focused and decrease anxiety-provoking stimuli.
6. Take breaks.
It's normal to feel burned out right now. Many people have experienced job loss, and many have therefore been fearful of job loss. This sometimes leads to working longer hours and perhaps feeling less inclined to take a vacation. If you have the option, take a day off. If you have been homeschooling your child and/or are experiencing a 24-hour working schedule, trying to balance work with limited child care options is stressful, to say the least. You may not have the literal option to take the day off, especially with kids at home, but it does not need to be a grand gesture. It may be something as simple, as taking a few hours to yourself for respite. We still have a ways to go in this new normal, and you need to pace yourself.
7. Find joy.
Joy is possible even in the toughest times. Rediscover former hobbies, learn something new, find an online version of an in-person recreational activity such as a cooking class, a live cultural event, music streaming. It can be very simple, such as riding a bike, or reading...but make the time. It could make all the difference.