The next normal – Coping with re-entry anxiety

As vaccination rates increase, and we continue to progress through various stages of re-opening, a return to pre-pandemic activities is insight. For some, this change is exciting but for others, a return to pre-pandemic life may be met with feelings of anxiety.

 

After more than a year in various stages of lockdown, we’ve adapted to new routines. Some individuals have discovered that they enjoy a less hectic social schedule with more downtime. The prospect of a return to commutes, traffic, and managing busy family schedules may be stressful. For others, the anxiety may be a result of fear for safety. A spectrum of emotions can arise in response to this change and uncertainty. There’s no right or wrong way to handle re-entry. However, a key to protecting your mental health during this transition will be to take things slow, communicate your needs and boundaries and make time for reflection on how you’re feeling.

 

Start slow and take small steps

There’s no requirement to jump back into everything all at once. Take things slow and evaluate how you feel along the way. This will help to ease the transition, especially if you are feeling anxious. For example, if you’re not ready to attend social gathering, start with meeting a friend for coffee. This will still provide important social interaction, and, after each outing, you can re-evaluate your comfort level. Exposure can help expand comfort levels over time.

Another strategy is to visualize a function ahead of attending the event. This can help you plan your approach to navigating different situations.

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries is a form of self-care. Determine what you are and aren’t comfortable with and communicate your boundaries to others. Be respectful of boundaries that others set – let’s recognize that everyone’s comfort levels will differ. Give yourself permission to leave an event if you’re feeling uncomfortable.

 

Reflect: What’s worth keeping and what’s worth discarding

The pandemic required us to adapt to new routines. Take notice of new self-care practices or other positives that have come out of the pandemic that you want to continue. For example, you may want to continue taking daily walks. Reflect on things you don’t want to bring back into your life. Re-opening doesn’t mean that things have to return to exactly the way they were. Treat this as an opportunity to identify what you value most.

 

Reach out for help  

If anxiety around returning to pre-pandemic activities and obligations persists and interferes with your everyday life, consider speaking to a professional. They can provide support and strategies to help you navigate the transition.

 

Written by Judy Plotkin, VP Health Strategy, Product & Distribution

References:
https://www.today.com/health/experts-offer-advice-how-return-normal-life-t212654
https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2021/05/420581/feeling-re-entry-anxiety-expert-advice-navigating-covid-19-reopenings