Well, we’ll say it again, it’s been an unprecedented year and a half. While we still face a lot of uncertainty, the conversations are changing and things are shifting. We are now about to navigate a world where temporary regulations are lifting and changing.  

Have you changed throughout this past year? It would be hard to think about a way we HAVEN’T changed amid the Covid-19 pandemic.  

If you’re not sure how to navigate the world opening up again, try some of these strategies! 

Know your limits 

Life has changed over the past year. Things slowed down. Your social life, exercise routine, and day-to-day pattern probably changed a lot since USF went remote in Spring 2020. We might not have even realized how much we were running on empty until everything paused due to Covid-19. As USF begins to offer more in-person services and events, know that it’s okay that your limits and energy-levels may have changed.  

Make a schedule to keep it slow  

It might be tempting to overcommit yourself to catching up with friends, family, and going out to eat, but it’s okay to know your limits and enforce them. Be careful not to overflow your cup right out of the gate, but still be on the lookout for healthy and enjoyable ways to fill your cup. Remember, we want our cup to be filled with things we enjoy and give us energy, but we don’t want it overflow! 

How often do you want to commit to seeing friends or enjoying pre-Covid-19 activities? You may find that you have less “social stamina” than before the pandemic started. Try to understand and schedule days you want to be social or more “busy.” If that’s two days a week, that’s totally fine. You can schedule in social events and downtime to make sure you get a chance to relax. Consider scheduling a night for vegging out or try practicing self-care a few times a month if that works with your post-Covid-19 schedule. Take this time to re-evaluate your priorities and values, it’s a good time to learn how to “date” yourself because you’re worth it and the relationship you have with yourself is the longest you’ll ever have.  

Ask Questions 

Nervous about new social situations? Ask questions to be more informed and feel more comfortable with new situations. How many people will be there? Will I already know anyone? If not, what are some good conversation topics to chat about? Will the others be vaccinated? Are masks mandatory, recommended, or suggested? The more you know, the easier it will be to make a decision that’s right for you.  

Asking questions also applies if you’re worried about socializing again, such as at work, with groups/clubs, in classes before the lecture starts, etc. Asking open-ended questions allows you to socialize with others, practice active listening and letting the other person shine! It’s okay to set boundaries or create a safer situation for yourself. Interested in meeting new friends, but nervous about COVID-19? After getting vaccinated, see if you can attend outdoor events or small gatherings where you might feel most comfortable.  

Make a pros and cons list 

Have you learned anything during the pandemic that has been insightful, energizing or that you’d like to carry with you in the future? Make a pros and cons list of your experiences from the last year. Was online learning a pro or a con? Was down time a pro or a con? 

Keep your pros and cons list and as you notice your calendar filling up, go back to it to make sure you feel energized, happy and refreshed by what’s on it. It is okay to change, in fact, it is a constant in life!

It’s a freedom to grow, evolve, develop and expand! Bring in those new hobbies, self-awareness and lessons learned into this next season of your life. 

Hear what others say with empathy 

It’s going to be an adjustment as things open back up again. A mixture of emotions might surface, such as anxiety, tension, excitement, nervousness, and gratitude. Not everyone may have the same feelings as you do about Covid-19 safety restrictions being lifted. You can work to honor your own feelings and understand others’ potential reservations or excitement.  

If a friend you’ve been eager to see isn’t comfortable yet, that’s okay. Ask about other ways you can connect. If a family member is still nervous about being around groups of people, that’s also okay. Let them navigate summer and fall 2021 on their own timeline.  

If you are unsure how to navigate summer and fall semesters, USF Health and Wellness has resources to help you feel understood, cared for and well.  

Try Counseling Center Virtual Drop-In groups: Connect with others to share your experiences and hear about others’.  

Learn about healthy communication and how to improve your sleep schedule with The Center for Student Well-Being.  

Join Togetherall, a mental health community for students! Meet others like you and sound off on what vexes you or learn mental health skills.