You are no longer required to wear masks. You can now gather in large crowds to attend sporting events, concerts and graduation ceremonies. You no longer have to stay six feet apart. And you can travel freely without worrying about travel restrictions. While most people have rejoiced and gone back to normal life as if we didn’t spend the past three years in a pandemic, those with weaker immune systems have found that it isn’t as easy to return to normal.
Of course, vaccines are still the greatest line of protection, but what happens when your body can’t create as many antibodies and those that aren’t immunocompromised are no longer heavily practicing safety precautions?
“Now, with COVID being less prevalent, and with many people being vaccinated, all those extra protective measures are becoming an individual choice,” says Justin Yopp, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist for the UNC Comprehensive Cancer Support Program at N.C. Cancer Hospital and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine. “But when you are immunocompromised, you may have the disconcerting feeling that others are not as concerned about the virus as you are.”
If you are struggling to find your way back to normal, Dr. Yopp offers the following advice for protecting your physical and mental health.
Find Your Risk Tolerance
What you choose to do to protect yourself is solely your choice. If you are not sure what’s best, Dr. Yopp advises considering your risk tolerance.
“What, for you, are healthy, ‘normal’ steps to live your life while exposing yourself to a potentially life-threatening virus?” he says.
You don’t want to completely isolate yourself from the world, but you also don’t want to jump back in like the pandemic never happened. What is the middle ground for you? Avoid focusing on what everyone else is doing and think about finding your new normal.
This can look like continuing to wear masks in public, continuing to practice social distancing and avoiding large crowds. Or you may decide to attend certain special events like a family wedding with extra precautions.
The important thing to remember, Dr. Yopp says is that there is no right answer, only