Terri found community helping to ease the anxiety of getting back to normal post-pandemic

Liz Miller

Terri found community helping to ease the anxiety of getting back to normal post-pandemic

Terri T., a retired nurse and social worker, is no stranger to anxiety and isolation. However, the pandemic intensified these feelings for many people. And, people who hadn't previously dealt with these feelings now were. 

Terri, a Kaiser Permanente of Northern CA member, found GetSetUp thanks to an email from her local area agency on aging - Sacramento's Agency on Aging Area 4.

GetSetUp offered Terri the opportunity to interact with older adult peers in classes on topics of shared interest like musictechnology, and dance.

"GetSetUp was a godsend for me. I signed up less than two months ago, and now I've logged over 300 classes. I just can't believe it. It's been a great distraction for me. I thought I was ok as far as the computer world was concerned, but I have learned a lot about GoogleZoom, and even Facebook that I didn't know before."

To help others feel less apprehensive about the pandemic, she decided to share her own experience and connect with others by hosting a GetSetUp Interest Group.

"I've been isolated in the pandemic, but I haven't felt a lot of the stressors. I was a bit "out of the loop" before it hit. Now that things are opening up, it will be different to physically get back out there."

Terri knows that one way to help with anxiety is to discuss it in a group setting which is why she created Returning to 'Normal' After the Pandemic.

"Some people are having a hard time getting back out there again. A lot of concern is around going out to eat. As an older person, that's a lot of our socialization getting together for lunch or coffee. But there are a lot of questions: What's happening in the restaurant? Why is there not enough staff? What about the variants? Will I be stuck back in isolation if I don't do this now?"

The Returning to Normal After the Pandemic group talks through all of these issues. According to Terri, because vaccination is a personal preference, each person has to decide how comfortable they are interacting with unvaccinated strangers.

Terri wants to help older adults feel less anxious and more comfortable returning to normal. While normal is all relative, and life may never be the same as pre-COVID-19, Terri believes her group can discover a 'new normal' together.

So if you are hesitant to get out there post-pandemic, join Terri in her group. Together you'll take a deep breath and talk about resilience and help each other through the transition.

Terri's tips for dealing with pandemic anxiety

Terri offered some helpful tips for dealing with anxiety when getting back "out there" as things open up. Her recommendations stem from personal awareness, which is vital in this process.

  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Trust your gut if you aren't comfortable in a situation.
  • It's okay to wear your mask even if others are not. Do what you need to take care of yourself.
  • Don't let fear hold you back.
  • Work within your comfort zone.

Everyone must establish their own comfort levels. And, these preferences are likely to change as restrictions lift. 

"I didn't even go to the doctor during the pandemic. Fortunately, nothing happened that I couldn't handle online. But, many people, like myself, were alone and single, so GetSetUp was a blessing to see and talk to other people."

Now Terri not only feels blessed but she's also empowered to lead an interest group on Zoom and be more verbal on camera.

Terri has found peers from across the country on GetSetUp, many of whom have moved around like herself.

Terri was raised in upstate New York and went out to California to celebrate her twentieth birthday. Soon after, she quit her job and packed her bags for the West coast. After being an LPN for 40 years, hands-on nursing became a grind. So she went back to school to get a master's degree in social work, which she’s done for the past 20 years. Even though she’s no longer nursing, she still views social work through that lens.

“Even though I’m not a nurse anymore, the nursing hat never comes off. I see people I am caring for have medication that’s not taken or an odd diet and I look deeper.”

Her master's project took her on mission work for five years in rural Ghana, focusing on community health. She studied nutrition and hygiene. She taught handwashing in a rural village without electricity or running water. As a result, only one family got cholera in an outbreak two years later.

Considering all the work she's done to help people, it is no surprise when she joined the GetSetUp community, her first thought was on an interest group to help others. Not surprisingly, Terri is growing her virtual community the way she built her in-person community: supporting others.

The GetSetUp community also supports Terri. Through diverse classes, Terris is learning new skills to facilitate her interest group. She likes to hop into courses on a whim because she knows she'll learn something new. Plus, she regularly enjoys cooking, exercise, and meditation classes.

"It's great to have exercises to do while seated. I have an issue with my hip. So the seated exercises and some of the yoga classes have been really good."

Terri has realized there is a whole new world of classes to explore virtually.

"GetSetUp has been great! I've told everybody I know. Now many friends can't understand why they can't get me on the phone - It's because I'm always engaged in live classes. It's taken me away from the TV, which is a good thing. I've taken over 300 hours of classes in 5 weeks!"

So you can see why Terri has given up TV to be a part of a live interactive community on GetSetUp by joining a class!

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Terri found community helping to ease the anxiety of getting back to normal post-pandemic
Terri found community helping to ease the anxiety of getting back to normal post-pandemic
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