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How to ease back into more activities after being vaccinated

Two young Caucasian women laughing and eating in a restaurant.

Feeling nervous about mingling beyond your closest social circle, even though you've been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus? That's understandable. Staying safe has meant keeping our distance for more than a year.

Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is safe for vaccinated people to resume many social activities (with precautions), you might be ready to venture out more and see more people. But if you're still feeling a bit nervous about going back to a semi-regular routine, consider the following tips. They're based on advice from HelpGuide about how to manage anxiety.

Take small steps. It's OK if you don't feel comfortable going to a movie or mall just yet. Maybe you'd feel better about dinner out with just a few friends. Or you might meet up with your vaccinated buddies for a walk or bike ride. Bonus: Exercise releases feel-good chemicals that may help ease anxiousness.

Talk about it—in an honest way. Let your friends and loved ones know what you're feeling. It may help you feel better. Be honest about your comfort level. Let them know about any activities that you're not ready to do.

Try not to worry what others may think. Most people can't tell if you're nervous. Even if they do, it doesn't mean they will judge you.

Remember: You're not alone. Other people might be just as anxious. So do your best to be in the moment and enjoy the social connections we crave as humans.

Say no to negative self-talk. If negative thoughts start to creep in, try to replace them with positive ones. For instance, do you still fear getting the virus? If so, it may help to remind yourself that studies show the vaccine is highly effective against COVID-19 and that you are taking the right steps to reduce your risk.

Just breathe. When you feel a worry coming on, take a few deep breaths. It's best to find a quiet area for this. Notice how your belly rises and falls with each breath. Breathing is one way to practice mindfulness. This may help you stay calm. And it helps your mind focus on the present—instead of worries about the future.

Get enough sleep. A good night's rest can help you feel less anxious before a social event.

Do what's best for you. It's perfectly fine if you decide to keep your distance from other people for a while longer. Just keep in mind that social distancing might make people feel lonely. That can be unhealthy. To gauge your loneliness, take this assessment—and discover tips that may help.

Reviewed 9/15/2021

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