Sign up to receive a Free excerpt from the book



Pandemic-related inertia – it’s a real thing!

Source: Bigstock/Eldar Nurkovic

The past 2 ½ years or so during the covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us in terms of what and how we do things, our habits, our thinking and our decision making.  That’s easy to understand – we’ve been in a crisis situation, facing an unknown threat to our health and security from a worldwide super-contagious virus that is still evolving, with periodic new variations that continue to trouble us.

In response to spending much of this time calculating our risk of exposure without an established guidebook to direct us, hibernating at home in sweats and yoga pants and working remotely, we’ve conditioned ourselves to think and behave in certain ways to keep us safe that have become deeply ingrained.  Some of us have been unable to leave their home, go to work or school, maintain relationships with friends and family, or have become preoccupied with fears of getting sick.  Apart from the essential workers who tend to us, the rest of us have kept a “safe” distance from friends and family, quarantined on occasion, walked down the same neighborhood paths for a bit of limited exercise and cautiously suited up for the grocery store and pharmacy.  There have been few truly pleasurable interactive moments outside of our immediate families, no “special occasions” to get dressed up for and enjoy.

And now as the pandemic has evolved and the risk of severe illness is lessened, although not zero, we still have to be cautious and thoughtful about our personal risk as we move on.  We have to face decisions on venturing out that make many of us uncomfortable. Some find ourselves left in a rut, hesitant to shed this protective shell and re-establish the social norms we had come to fear at the onset of the pandemic.  We’re moving through molasses, fearing yet another change. We’ve found it “easier” to not have to get dressed for work or school, to not have to get out of the house, to not engage in casual chit-chat with others in the course of our day. We’ve found it “easier” to sit back and order goods online rather than having to interact with and support our local bookstores and independent retailers who provide customer service and rely on our business to stay open.  Unfortunately, this erodes our sense of community, our connections with others. Our social muscles have atrophied, leaving us out of practice on how to engage with others and be a sociable person, neighbor, friend, co-worker.  Some of us now actually say they prefer to work or school from home and avoid restaurants, social gatherings, sporting events, shopping centers and all the things that add flavor to our lives.

This is pandemic-related inertia, a real thing.  It’s a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged, or as described by Sir Isaac Newton:  a property of matter by which it remains in the same state (at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line) unless acted upon by some external force. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).  In other words – we stay put at home in our safe caves and don’t make the effort to rethink our behaviors and exposures. We don’t work to bring balance back to the customs and routines we created during the crisis with a new and evolving sense of normal.  In order to move on, we have to break these behavioral habits learned during the pandemic and face doing those things that were until recently considered very dangerous to ourselves and families.  It’s scary.  But maintaining a state of isolation and inertia is also not healthy for us.  Human beings are social beings and we need that social connection to survive and thrive, to stay well.  Isolation causes many of us to experience psychological distress, mental health problems, depression, anxiety, and negative physical health consequences.

Unlearning our emotional and behavioral responses to the pandemic and the resultant inertia will take great effort.  I recommend that you start slow and take small steps, gradually expanding what you do and where you go. Set out small goals with friends and family that are simple, specific, prioritized, realistic and attainable. Each person needs to go at his or her own pace and interact in a way that works for him without feeling pressured by what others think or are doing. You decide what boundaries you and your family want to adopt and what activities you are comfortable with, and when. This might include doing things in a different way as compared with past years.  Try not to judge this as good or bad, or that you are missing out on something.  It just is.

Many people will be able to deal with their anxiety and make the transition to a satisfactory post-pandemic life on their own.  If symptoms of anxiety and inertia during the re-entry transition become excessive and interfere with your ability to function in one or more areas of your life, that’s an indication to seek professional mental health care.

Stay well! 

This entry was posted in My Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • Subscribe to the Blog

    Sign up to recieve the blog right in your inbox and receive a free excerpt of Reconnecting after Isolation: Coping with Anxiety, Depression, Grief, PTSD, and More
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

  • Blog Categories

  • Archives


To view the content on
you must agree to our
Privacy and Terms of Use
by clicking “I agree”

I AGREE Decline