Prarie Conlon is a clinically trained therapist and specializes in distance therapy and animal therapy. She says everyone shouldn't act like COVID-19 is over.

I talked to her on the phone in order to get some better ideas about the right way to get back into your life now that we have been kept in a box for a couple of months. She says it's going to be a respectful thing and we are going to have to communicate. If someone wants a hug, tell them that it's not personal but right now you aren't comfortable doing that, or that you don't feel safe. Choose your own words but communicate so they know it is not a personal thing. Same with a handshake. That is what we all have fallen into habit doing. So, if you want to, just say you would like to but don't feel safe or comfortable doing it.

Prarie Conlon also recommended using animals. Take your dog for a walk, take them to the park, or whatever you used to do before for exercise with them. They also need to be brought back to a state of normal. They probably like having you home so much, but that will change too the more we integrate back into the public. For cats, well, you know your cats well. If you used to go outside with them or let them out, maybe start doing that again.  Prarie told a joke that one of her clients said that her cat sent her a text to stay at the grocery store a little longer, it needed some alone time.

Of course, Prarie Conlon said we all have to practice safe distancing but plan more with friends and family. Use video platforms and start reaching out. One thing that Prarie said was that it's ok to reach out to a friend and/or spouse and say that you are feeling alone or that you are having panic attacks or feeling anxiety. Everyone is feeling that. People are also experiencing depression, even if they didn't before. The best thing to do is reach out and talk about it, get help from a professional, or both.

Here are 3 steps Prarie recommends:

  1. Turn off the news. If it's important or necessary for you to stay informed, ask a trusted source who's watching to report back to you on the goings-on.
  2. Get outside (safely). If you've been hunkering down the past couple of months, make it a point to get out of your house. Being in nature and moving your body is incredibly beneficial for your mental health.
  3. Take action. Whether it's donating to a cause you care about or making masks for the elderly - giving back is a great way to get out of your head and gives you a sense of meaning during this scary time.

The biggest message, this is not over, but we need to start dealing with our feelings now that there are more places opening up.

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