Although Circuit Breaker has ended, and we have stepped into phase two, the “normal” that we are familiar with still seems out of reach. We are able to have small gatherings now and this allows us to connect back with people we love. However, we have to do so with many restrictions in place. Not being able to speak in public transports, meeting friends or family with face masks on and limiting each gathering to a maximum of five people seems to be the new normal that we have to adapt to. Along with that, safe entry is another normal we need to get used to. However, being aware that the virus still exists in the society while we try to continue mingling with loved ones and going to work could result in an increase in anxiety.
Entering a shopping mall may require some of us to be mentally prepared. Previously, we could simply stroll in and enter any shop to take a look at the products even if we had no intention of purchasing them. However, currently even to enter a shop we need to whip out our phones, scan the QR code, check in with our IC and phone number, show it to the staff, take our temperatures and then enter the shop. Having to do this to enter a mall and before entering every shop could place a strain on our minds. This is because a relaxing experience previously, now, causes us to be more aware of our surroundings and to be prepared with a phone in our hands. Although we know that these measures help to keep us safe, we cannot deny that they don’t place a memory load on our minds. But, there are some ways to work around this, so we feel better. If avoiding malls is not an option, then, plan a routine. Google the stores in a mall before entering and know which shops you intend to go to make purchases or dine at. This way, you will not feel like you are caught off-guard and will be able to manage your anxiety.
Taking public transports may cause some of us to feel anxious. During Circuit Breaker and phase one, trains and buses did not have many commuters and we could sit or stand anywhere. To ensure boarding buses and trains are safe now, the government have advised us to refrain from speaking. However, we may still feel some fear because we may be holding the handles, or we could be sitting on a seat that someone else sat on. We may also feel anxious because some people may be talking to the friend next to them or they may be talking on their phones despite knowing the rules. In such situations, when we do not have much control, we may feel an overwhelming sense of fear if we are not able to gain control over our thoughts. In these situations, listen to music that makes you feel calm. If your anxiety level increases, step out of the train and take deep breaths. While we are not able to control crowd levels or people communicating, we can do things to make us feel better.
We have not met many of our friends and relatives since the start of circuit breaker. With phase two, we are allowed to gather in groups of five. However, some of us may be fearful of interacting with others or may have the desire to have big gatherings. Humans are social beings and we crave intimacy and physical touch. There are ways to cope with interacting with others while managing the fear of the virus. If you have a group of friends that have more than five people, it would be good to split up into two groups for meet ups and then rotate the members in the group the following week. This way, everyone has a chance to catch up with others. If you are afraid of eating in public places, head over to one of your houses to minimize hanging out in public. One way to combat anxiety is to practice good hygiene. Wash hands often, wear masks and sanitize. This way your mind knows you are doing everything you can to be safe.
This is a difficult time for many people trying to cope with daily life. Although phase two should be seen as a good improvement and we are able to meet up with our loved ones, we should remain cautious. While we try to interact with people again, it is normal for us to feel anxious if someone hugs us or sneezes in public. During such times, instead of going into a panic mode, we should take control of our mind and do certain things to ensure our safety such as washing hands, wearing mask and sanitizing. Although we do not have control over the whole situation, these actions will provide some sense of comfort that we are doing what we can.