“Stay home,” or “stay safe” were some of the popular phrases in 2020 and the half of 2021. Until recently, people were encouraged to avoid crowded places. As a result, wearing masks, remote work, meetings on Zoom, homeschooling and online learning became part of people’s lives.
Today the message has changed, and governments have begun lifting social distancing restrictions. Actually, people are now encouraged to step out and reintegrate into society.
While this is good news, some people are experiencing increased reentry anxiety. On the one hand, they are excited that the world is returning to some degree of normalcy. Their kids can go back to physical learning as they did before the pandemic. Businesses and hotels are opening up, so they can shop again or eat out, especially after being fully vaccinated.
On the other hand, there is a lot of uncertainty, such as the number of not fully vaccinated people you’re likely to interact with, the potential threats due to new Covid-19 infection cases or generally about your future.
If you’re among those experiencing reintegration anxiety, here are the most effective ways to cope with post-Covid life stress and fear.
What is Reentry Anxiety?
Put simply, reentry anxiety is the stress you feel as you try to return to a normal lifestyle you had before the pandemic. It’s the feelings of uneasiness about going back to school, returning to work or attending a social gathering no matter its size. It also includes the discomfort you get when someone tries to hug you or shake your hand.
Well, it’s expected that people will feel anxious as they attempt to resume in-person interactions even when they’re allowed to do so. It’s not uncommon even for fully vaccinated because the world is slowly getting out of a public health crisis.
In fact, people already diagnosed with anxiety disorder have an increased potential of experiencing pandemic-related anxiety as they try to transit from working from the comfort of their home to taking a long morning commute. Attending family gatherings and social events may cause added stress to individuals without those disorders as well.
While this is acceptable, there are a number of things you can do to cope with your post-Covid stress or anxiety as you attempt to go into social situations.
Tips for Coping with Reentry Anxiety Post Pandemic Life
Be Positive Minded
The world, in general, has put so much effort into creating a safe workplace, school and public environments. Organizations have invested in things that can help mitigate any risk, such as the use of screens, putting extra handwashing facilities, staggering hours to minimize crowding at the workplace and more.
You, too, can do a few personal things to stay safe and reduce post-Covid stress. For instance, focus on the fun of seeing your friends or colleagues again. Be appreciative that you can attend some of the events you used to like during your pre-pandemic life. Also, understand that people will respect your boundaries as you do likewise.
In fact, start calling your friends, family, colleagues or classmates and tell them how excited you are to meet them once again. These activities will help you to manage your reentry anxiety, worries or stress.
Focus on What You Can Control
It might be hard always to remain positive as you enter crowded spaces, mix with many people, or accept several changes that have been put in place to reduce transmission. For instance, your employer might have made a lot more changes in the office, such as shifting your workstation to a new location or changed the office appearance to avoid crowding at the common places.
Some of the changes are beyond your control, and the most realistic option is to accept them. Those that are within your control and that you should focus on them are getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and social distancing. Recount how you remained resilient during the lockdown and rely on it as you enter post-pandemic life.
Embrace Your Feelings
It’s normal to feel anxious as you leave the comfort of your home into the world. This is particularly so if you’re mourning the loss of a couple of your friends, family members, neighbors or colleagues due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The grief might kill your enthusiasm to reenter the world, and this is normal.
Therefore, let yourself feel everything, including the excitement, the fear or the cycle between guilt, happiness, stress, etc.
In other words, go easy on yourself, be compassionate and accept how you are feeling. With time you will be excited to reenter the world once again.
Take Things Slowly
People in countries that had extended lockdowns had to stay indoors for so long. Such people are excited to resume their daily activities and never take their freedom for granted.
Because of that, they have a long list of activities that they would want to engage in, such as restaurant outings, get-togethers, road trips and much more. While there is nothing wrong with engaging in such activities, it might be helpful to hold off on planning too many things in a short period.
Actually, you can say no when you get invited to so many social events because you need to pace yourself. If not, you might be exhausted and begin to feel disappointed with yourself and others. Therefore see one friend at a time instead of planning a get-together. If safe in your area, you can plan a short local trip with your close family members.
Such activities will help you reintegrate into society and avoid the risk of burning yourself out as you engage in different activities.
You might have realized how difficult it was to transit from commuting to your workplace to remote work or kids going to school to homeschooling and more. Your reintegration process is most likely to take the same route. However, you should be grateful that you have come out of the lockdown with your body, job and relationship intact, although seriously different from how it was before the pandemic.
While accepting this new reality is a realistic option and the antidote to the reentry anxiety, it might not be easy. You may realize that your anxiety is only getting more severe as you step into the world.
It’s helpful to chat with a professional when your fear or anxiety begins to affect your relationships with family, friends or spouse, experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty concentration or sleeping, tightness of the shoulders and neck, or severe headache. These symptoms are most likely to impact your productivity. So seek assistance from a mental health professional, and you can find one online or search locally.
The world is returning to the life people knew before the pandemic. Governments and organizations have invested in resources that can ease the reintegration process. Some people are unbelievably excited to return to their pre-pandemic activities. They want to step outside and meet their friends and family, shop or travel, children to go back to school and workers to go back to their offices and put an end to videoconferencing meetings.
On the other hand, there is increased reentry anxiety because the future is uncertain. The post has reviewed five ways you can cope with post-Covid stress. These tips will help you make this life-changing transition.
Still, you might not feel comfortable reintegrating into society, and this is normal. However, you need to seek help when your post-pandemic anxiety gets out of control. Still, you can look for productive ways to ease the process if the physical symptoms are not that severe.