When the pandemic hit, many people were thrown off by the numerous changes in their everyday routines. Just like them, you may have felt worried about becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus. You may have also wondered when you can once again do things you enjoy like going to the movies or travelling to a new destination.

The good news is that, as more people become vaccinated and health guidelines relax, you can start going back to your normal activities. However, you might still feel apprehensive about the future, which can rob you of happiness. The idea of being joyful post-pandemic can be difficult to grasp and accept, but you have the capability to adapt to positive life changes. You can slowly explore what will make you happy now and improve your well-being.

Acknowledge Your Emotions

You might feel a bit of hesitation adjusting to a more active and outgoing lifestyle, as it can feel like a big change from the past year of minimal social contact and more personal time. Though being able to go out again is good news, you need to acknowledge that the anxiety you are feeling is normal and valid. You might not feel excited about going back to the office or sending your kids to school. You may also still be grieving over the loss of a loved one due to the virus. Instead of rushing to be happy, you need to recognize the mixture of emotions you have and be patient with how you are adjusting to these situations.

Reset Your Baseline

It’s possible that your idea of happiness may have changed over the past year. If one way of lifting your spirits before the pandemic was grabbing a cup of coffee with your friend, you might have replaced this with video calling them while your city was in lockdown. As long as you also acknowledge your current satisfaction level, then you shouldn’t worry too much. If the pandemic made you feel depressed, getting back to your baseline of happiness is enough to sustain you. Later on, you’ll be able to find new ways to boost your mood.

Welcome New Routines

As conditions in the United States improve, it’s also a great time to create new routines to help you transition to post-pandemic life. You can start with getting your morning exercise done outside or going for a walk around the block when you need to take a break from work—activities that you may not have been able to do before due to stricter restrictions. If you used to go to the gym to work out, nature hikes or cycling might be your new way of getting physical activity. Set aside time in your schedule to do these regularly.

Practice Gratitude

Maintaining an attitude of gratitude is an effective way to improve your well-being. How you will show this is completely up to you. It’s important to find practices of happiness that fit your personality and feel good for you. You can do some common exercises like keeping a gratitude journal or counting your blessings daily. But you can also do other things to practice gratitude. You can verbally acknowledge people, situations, or experiences you appreciate as they are happening. By expressing gratitude, you become aware of things you’re thankful for. It can be as simple as being glad to be with people again, whether at work or seeing your friends for lunch.

Be Mindful of Your Words

When you practice gratitude, you tend to have an interior monologue expressing the gifts, blessings, and abundance in your life. You become so preoccupied with appreciating the good things you have that your perspective also shifts. The positive words you tell yourself or how you describe your experiences can enhance your well-being. The same happens when you say positive statements to other people. Simply letting a loved one know you are there for them can give them the courage to overcome the challenges they are currently facing. For example, offering words of encouragement for sobriety may help inspire someone to stick to their recovery plan.

Welcome Variety

Establishing a daily routine is good to get you back on track with post-pandemic life since it can give you the stability you miss. But injecting some variety can also help you be more joyful. Allow yourself some spontaneity by taking a different route to work, stopping by a bakeshop on your way home, or signing up for a new class. These activities don’t just introduce novelty into your life, but they also provide additional opportunities for social connections.

Over the past year, you may have dealt with the stressful changes of the pandemic including fewer social interactions, uncertainty, and fear of infection. Adapting to those changes was not easy and as restrictions relax, you may find yourself adapting to new circumstances once more. As you move towards post-pandemic life, you don’t have to force yourself to feel happy right away. Ease your way into joy by making small but meaningful changes in your habits and routine.