The CDC Says You Can Go Out. Are You Ready? - Counseling & Therapy Services - The Juniper Center
Nervous About Going out The Juniper Center

Remember the adage “be careful what you ask for?”

Many have been wishing for relief from the social distancing and mask-wearing mandates for over a year. And now it’s here. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised the guidelines last month to say that “vaccinated individuals should not be required to wear masks in indoor and outdoor settings, with some exceptions.” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, along with governors across the country, have updated local policies accordingly.

Yay! We can go out! But what if the thought makes you anxious?

“Our nervous systems are wired to favor certainty,” says Dr. Margo Jacquot, Chief Care Officer at The Juniper Center. “Even when change is positive, we feel less in control during a transition.” And that can trigger our natural fight, flight, or freeze reaction. It’s okay to accept that you may feel anxious or conflicted about getting back out into the world.
Dr. Jacquot recommends taking time before you even leave the house to plan how you will re-engage in a way that feels safe to you. Here are two questions to ask yourself to get started.

  1. What are your boundaries?

    Think about what boundaries are in your comfort zone ahead of time. If you are not comfortable dining inside a restaurant, agree to meet outside for coffee. Or avoid restaurants altogether. Meet for a walk or other outdoor activity. It’s okay to say, “This is where I am today. I might not feel the same tomorrow. I’m following the science and my gut.” With your clear articulation of boundaries, hopefully, others will respect your feelings.

  2. What’s happening right now?

    Another trait of our nervous system is that it reacts to our thoughts—even when we are thinking about “what-ifs,” as in things that aren’t actually happening in the present. Focus on ways to calm your nervous system before you leave the house. Use the facts. Breathe deeply to stay centered.

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