A recent report by the American Psychological Association found almost half (49%) of Americans feel uneasy about resuming in-person interactions following the COVID-19 pandemic. After months of adjusting to major lifestyle changes like lockdowns and social distancing measures, getting back to “normal” is causing many people to experience anxiety. Here are a few helpful strategies for coping with re-entry and acclimating to another new normal.
Control what you can
If fear of contracting the virus is holding you back from engaging with others, focus on what you can control. There will always be uncertainty, but following the recommended precautions to limit risk may reduce your anxiety. This means taking steps to protect yourself like getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in the recommended settings.
Returning to pre-pandemic life may seem daunting especially if you feel like everything is changing at once. Try to slow down and figure out what boundaries you need to set in your daily routine. If shopping in a grocery store still makes you uneasy, use grocery delivery services until you’re more comfortable. Are you being invited to more social events but feel uncomfortable being in a group? Suggest an outdoor outing where everyone can choose to remain at a distance. It’s ok to ease back into normalcy; just make sure you are trying to make progress.
Set small, consistent goals
Although it’s important to move at your own pace, it becomes unhealthy if you’re avoiding change altogether. To make sure you are working to manage your anxiety, set small, achievable goals that will help you acclimate to post-pandemic life. If you are experiencing nervousness about resuming social interactions, attending a large event right away may be overwhelming. Instead, set a goal of seeing one friend in person a week until you’re comfortable increasing this number. It’s important to find a balance between pacing yourself and diving in too fast.
Be kind to yourself:
It can be easy to become frustrated and beat yourself up about your feelings, but remember, the global pandemic has impacted everyone in different ways. Be proud of yourself for making it through uncharted waters and know your feelings are valid. Go easy on yourself and realize you are not alone.
Talk to someone: Staying connected, even if it’s only virtually, has positive effects on mental health. If you feel post-pandemic anxiety is holding you back, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Talking to loved ones about your feelings can provide comfort and may make it easier for you to embrace change. Professional help is also more accessible due to many mental health services and support groups turning to telehealth appointments during the pandemic. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by re-entry anxiety, Oceans can help. Fill out our “Get Help” form now or learn more about our telehealth services.