A little over one year ago, gathering with friends in any scenario seemed dangerous, life-threatening even. Going out and playing a pick-up game of basketball wasn’t possible. Smiling at strangers could only be done through masks. More than one year later, however, things are looking up.
Many adults around the country continue to experience feelings of euphoria as the country transitions into a recognizable state of normalcy. Visiting family, grabbing after work drinks, attending concerts, and going to movies are all possible now. For most people, being within six feet of a stranger is no longer a threat. The fact of the matter is that the world is reopening and the joy of it all is infectious.
What Are The Numbers?
Since January 20, 2021, COVID-19 cases in the United States have gone down more than 90%. According to a mid-June 2021 report, roughly 175 million Americans received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That number includes 74% of adults over 40 and 87% of all seniors over 65. In 14 states, at least 70% of adults have received one dose of the vaccine. As younger people start to receive the vaccine, the path to what we knew as normal is clearer than ever.
Post-Pandemic Joy: What Is It?
There was a common saying throughout the pandemic when it came to interacting with people. “When this is all over,” became something that friends and family said in regards to living life post-pandemic. The sad reality was that the pandemic was ever-changing; nobody knew how long it would last or how serious it would get. While a mild level of danger still remains, fear has subsided and a mental switch flipped. People are ready to break out of their cages and navigate the world again.
Because people had the “when this is all over” mindset, meeting up with people and doing regular things feels that much better now. It’s time for fear and sadness to go and for joy to take over. That being said, some people remain hesitant or fearful of reentering society. It’s perfectly understandable to experience mild anxiety about being in unmasked social settings. People will enter back into the world in their own way that feels comfortable.
Why Does Everything Seem To Feel Great?
For the majority of the pandemic, people had to suppress happiness. That’s why rates of depression and anxiety skyrocketed. There was a wall, essentially, between the self and pleasure/happiness, creating an absence of joy. Now, there are little to no limitations as to what you can enjoy, especially if you are fully vaccinated. Something as simple as going over to a friend’s house for a barbecue may feel as thrilling as summiting Mount Fuji. Walking into a grocery store without a mask is riveting. Hugging family members is an emotional experience. Going on dates is possible. Almost anything and everything can trigger joy!
Doing things in the world perpetuates the release of dopamine, which is a reward/feel good hormone. The body releases dopamine during a new and pleasurable experience. It often occurs when you do something exciting, for example, visiting a new country or trying a new activity. The body can also release dopamine after joyful or pleasurable experiences are withheld from a person for a long time.
That’s why things that used to be commonplace are now exciting and pleasurable. The realization is that people didn’t fully understand how much these things meant to them before the pandemic. Variety kept things interesting and pumped people full of good hormones. That’s coming back again and isolation and loneliness are in the rearview mirror.
Things To Keep In Mind:
Everything is not simply feel good hormones and good times with the return to normalcy. Some people still need space. Strangers in the grocery store aisles aren’t ready for your hugs just yet. People will eventually arrive at the “woohoo” state, but please take consideration for those who are not there yet. Spread kindness and love, but don’t overextend your joy vibes. Letting loose can still have consequences, as the pandemic is not over yet. Take time to adjust to the new world and savor those joyful highs you continue to experience.