“Then 2020 hit and the universe said, ‘Hey, I’ve got something for you,’” she told CNN.
Like millions of Americans, Lawson has been mostly locked at home since last March with her 87-year-old mother, whom she cares for, and her active social schedule has come to a screeching halt.
The 57-year-old conflict analyst was able to do most of her work from her home in the Atlanta area. On the rare occasions when she had to go to the office during the height of the pandemic, she would get up at four or five in the morning so that she could do her job and leave before other people came in.
This creates new anxiety for Lawson, who took a long time to return to his old life.
“I am vaccinated. I’m fully vaccinated, but I guess I’m just shy of a pandemic right now, ”she said. “I really want to go to the movies, but I’m just like ‘eww, no not yet.’ “
About 141.6 million people in the United States, or 42.6% of the nation’s population, are fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But 61.5% of people over 12 have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 50.5% are fully vaccinated.
Lawson said her office is still trying to decide when employees will return to full-time, but she visits the office more often.
This requires additional coordination with his colleagues, Lawson said, as only one member of his team can enter at a time.
“I feel like I’m playing chess, human chess,” she said. “And it’s always a moving chessboard. “
Lawson said her team have to produce daily reports, so she knows her bosses know they’re doing their job, but it always feels weird to be home when other coworkers are working more regularly in the office.
“You are also trying to measure the temperature in the office,” she said. “So it’s a constant, like juggling, a constant balancing act. “
Clinical psychologist Vaile Wright, senior director of healthcare innovation at the American Psychological Association, told CNN that it’s natural for people to feel uncomfortable when so much is going on. suspense.
“We know a lot of things will be different like the workplace, healthcare, schools, but we don’t know exactly what they will look like,” she said. So I think it’s that kind of unknown that always confuses people. “
She said an APA survey conducted earlier this year found that about half of adults – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – reported feeling anxiety or discomfort at the thought of to resume their pre-pandemic lifestyle.
The suddenness of the reopening can also be stressful, even for people who are anxious to get life back to normal.
“We’ve been told for a year that you have to wear a mask to protect yourself, and now we’re told you don’t,” she said. “And so while it may follow the science and it may seem logical, it may not feel very comfortable right away, and for some it might never feel comfortable. “
Some of the more mundane pre-pandemic activities can seem strange or uncomfortable.
Bret Adams, 59, of Austin, Texas, hadn’t been around many people other than his father since the pandemic began.
Adams said they recently met one of his college buddies after they had all been fully vaccinated.
“We shook hands and it was really awkward,” Adams told CNN. “It sounds strange to say that, but I haven’t shaken hands with anyone in over a year, you know, and that’s normal for us. “
He works for the state of Texas and said his colleagues had just started returning to the office at 75% capacity, or a maximum of 10 people per department, in early June. They plan to return to the office full time in September.
Adams said he felt anxious about the change because he had gotten used to working from home.
“I’m fully vaccinated so I feel more comfortable. My dad too, he’s 84 and I feel more comfortable because he’s fully vaccinated, ”Adams said. “But it’s just this anxiety of trying to find common ground by respecting others and hoping they’ll be the same way. “
He said he wasn’t sure if things would ever get back to normal because this pandemic was a once in a lifetime thing.
“I hope we can get as close as possible,” he said.
Lisa Reid said her anxieties have eased and she feels more confident as vaccination rates rise and the number of Covid-19 cases drop in Annapolis, Maryland, where she lives with her husband and two of their three adult children.
Reid, 55, describes herself as an extrovert and says she enjoys entertaining. She was thrilled to have her first post-vaccination rally last month with a few friends and neighbors.
She and her husband Steve recently celebrated their 30th anniversary by going out for a real sit-down dinner at a restaurant.
“The pandemic has only been the lens through which we have seen our lives for an entire year or more,” she said. “I remember feeling like a normal person having a good meal, so it was a welcome relief. “
She said she wasn’t sure at first whether she should wear a mask until she got to the table.
“I have to admit I ended up getting out of my head quickly and feeling like a normal human being, and that was really great,” she said.
Reid said she was reasonably convinced that most of the people she met were vaccinated, but that she always kept a mask with her at all times.
She said she was getting ready to fly to Florida for a weekend at the beach with her stepmom and sisters-in-law – something she wouldn’t have considered there isn’t so long.
Wright recommended that people who feel uncomfortable about reopening take small steps like going to the grocery store or having dinner with a small group of friends to help prepare.
She said people will adjust at their own pace, so they shouldn’t be too hard on themselves or others.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of judgments over the last year, a lot of criticism of how people are living their lives and dealing with the pandemic and I don’t think it’s very effective,” he said. she declared.
Lawson said she tried to focus on recognizing the finer things in life and took lots of baby steps, going out and exercising.
“I am a FitBit user. I’m proud to (take) a minimum of 10,000 steps a day – usually more than that – then the pandemic came and it all stopped, ”she said. “Now I’m back. The days when I took 10,000 steps, I was like ‘Yay me! Go for it !’ “