Whoa... this all feels a bit sudden, right?

·3 min read

On Thursday, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated Americans don't need to use masks outdoors and in many situations indoors, marking a major step toward a return to normalcy.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sudden change. Friends I've spoken to about the news have also expressed similar feelings.

Other people are super excited for this change. It's the one we've been waiting for: the start of "the after" times.

If you're like me, there are two things that have been helpful to remember.

First, we can do things at our own pace. If I'm not feeling comfortable with taking my mask off indoors even when I'm two weeks post-second shot, then I don't have to.

Plus, indoor masks will still be required some places. The CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated people must still wear a mask in health care settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, and public transportation.

Second, and most importantly, we have science to reassure us.

The update to indoor masking stems from the steady decline of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, and the promising data that demonstrates the COVID-19 vaccines’ effectiveness in real-world studies, according to the agency. Knowing this helps dispels some of my fears.

Why aren't we ready to ditch masks yet?

Speaking of feeling overwhelmed by the new CDC guidelines, Jenna Ryu wrote about the hesitancy some of us experience when it comes to being allowed to go maskless.

Experts say the act of stripping off these masks feeling foreign and uneasy for some is a reaction that is not unexpected

"Behaviors take time to implement and adopt. They also take time to un-adopt," says Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Remember, it's not an on and off switch."

Mike Bordieri, an associate professor of psychology at Murray State University, says it's "predictable" that some people are hesitant to follow the updated guidelines, and their cautionary behavior can be explained by the psychological finding that humans often "overanalyze risk."

Karan said the updated guidance may also present a struggle for those who have endured a traumatic experience linked to the pandemic, such as the loss of a loved one. People who suffer from mental health disorders may also struggle to adjust.

"People have already gone through so many losses and tragedies during the pandemic, so it makes sense that some people are wary of adopting these recent recommendations until they feel it out for themselves," Karan says.

To read the full story, click here.

The CDC's mask rules are changing.
The CDC's mask rules are changing.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: CDC's updated indoor mask guidelines feel sudden, overwhelming