Mindfulness: As society reopens, people should rejoin groups slowly, Counseling Services advises

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(Illustration by Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

As the stay-at-home orders are lifted, and businesses across Kansas slowly begin to reopen, it may be tempting to run out into society looking for a hint of normalcy.

However, concerns about safety and prevention of COVID-19 should still be a top priority, Kodee Walls, assistant director and training director at Counseling Services, said.

“On the one hand, it’s sort of this euphoria of being able to reconnect again, and this relief that can be experienced, but really tempered with the fear that this isn’t over, and ‘What’s the thing that going to set off the second spike that everybody is saying is inevitable?’” she said. “Think about what’s driving some of these pieces of wanting to get back out and dive-in, it’s wanting things to go back to normal.”

Brent Schneider, staff psychologist at Counseling Services, said he thinks there will be two camps of people moving forward.

“There seems to sort of be these individuals who, it’s not really going to matter, ‘Yay, I’m going to be with friends, I don’t have that trepidation. I can go out again,’” he said. “There’s other people though, who are like, ‘No, I’m locking myself in my house. I’m being very orthodox about the stay-at-home thing,’ and I think might have more of that trepidation about going out.”

Although it is important for people to connect with one another, Walls and Schneider both said that people will need to go slow as they begin to reintegrate into society, as hard as that may be.

“In an effort to deal with our own mental wellness, but then also have a social responsibility level, we need to temper and slowly go into it, because extremes on any spectrum have negative consequences,” Walls said. “It’s going to be a difficult balance kind of in the middle somewhere. Think about concentric circles, your immediate family being the people you connect with first, and then the next level being your really close friends.”

Looking at the effects of physical distancing, Schneider said a society that does not tolerate laziness has been forced to slow down, and he hopes that people will continue to see the importance of that.

“When we slow down, whether we let ourselves do it because something happens, like, a pandemic, we really can sort of recognize what’s going on with us in terms of our thoughts, our emotions, our physical sensations, and because of that, maybe even being more aware of our behaviors,” he said. “I think that’s happened with a lot of people, they’ve become acutely aware of themselves and what they need and don’t need.”

Walls said this time has given people a chance to take stock and think about what really is important and what ultimately does matter.

“How many folks have you heard say, ‘I was doing these millions of things, and now I don’t have to do any of them. And I feel so much better?’” Walls said. “It’s like, ‘Well wait, so why were all of those things so important if what they were ultimately doing was taking away from your own well-being?’”

One thing Schneider said people should not do now is scare themselves by reading the news too much, but balancing that with staying informed.

“It’s been really hard the past couple of months, but just be slow,” Schneider said. “Be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself.”

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.