We’ve all heard about “pandemic fatigue.” Despite recent adjustments to local guidelines, we’re all tired of COVID and want life to return to normal. More and more of us are finally vaccinated. Kids are (mostly) back in school. But not everyone is entirely ready to be thrown back into the way life used to be. 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  

Millions of Americans suffer from anxiety or depression — and for many, this worsened during the pandemic. Not everyone is ready for a return to pre-COVID life. While most are eagerly looking forward to getting back to the office, dining in restaurants, and ending the craziness of homeschooling, there are many of us who are feeling uneasy about being out in crowds or back in society in general. Home has been our safe space.

The longer we have been home, the more difficult it may be for some of us to get back out there. 

I’ve always been somewhat of a homebody to begin with, but the longer I have stayed home, the more difficult I have found it to want to be around large groups of people. And noise. Not just because I now have to wear something other than black stretchy pants, and my 60-mile round trip commute has resumed. Being home brought me a sense of comfort during this difficult time.  

I value my alone time and quiet time. And that solitude is slowly slipping out of my hands. 

Working from home over the past year, I was given time to reflect on what is important to me. Now, more than ever, I realize the answer is family — and being close to home. For people who suffer from anxiety or depression, getting back out into the world requires a great deal of strength and courage. Being around people again, whether at work, in the grocery store, or at a restaurant, can be anxiety producing for many people. Although the pandemic has been difficult for all of us, it is even more difficult for people who had mental health challenges to begin with. 

I have been trying to come up with a personal strategy to adjust to these changes, and all I can think of is this: Take it day by day. It’s perhaps a bit clichéd, but I can’t imagine it any other way. Pick one thing to focus on at a time. Slowly, I am integrating myself back into the world. I started with coaching my son’s soccer team again. And so far that has been a ray of sunshine, even on cold and rainy Sundays. 

You never know what personal struggles others are dealing with. As the country and world reopen, I need to take a deep breath and exhale. I can do this. You can, too. I’m right there with you.

If you are struggling, lean on a friend or family member for their love and support. And if you need additional support, find a therapist by asking your primary care physician or a friend for a referral.

Cheryl Mastrogiovanni
Cheryl is a native of Salem, MA, and now resides in Arlington with her husband and son. A graduate of Boston College, she has been a high school counselor for over 20 years and enjoys helping seniors navigate the college application process. A lifelong Boston Bruins fan, Cheryl began attending hockey games with her father in the original Boston Garden at the age of 8, a tradition she is now sharing with her son. Cheryl published a children’s picture book about the Bruins, and is also passionate about soccer, Cape Cod, all things Italian, and spending time with her family. As much as she loves to travel, she equally loves coming home. Loves: playing soccer on the weekends, GOOD pizza, hot summer nights, '80s music, sneakers, and being organized Dislikes: long meetings, loud noises, messiness


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