Going back out into the world doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly stressful
Nearly half of American adults are experiencing pandemic-related re-entry anxiety
Take baby steps when getting back into the swing of things
The COVID-19 vaccines make interacting in society safer.
Realize what you can and can’t control
Do things you enjoy
Mindfulness can help keep you in tune with your mental state
Therapy can provide helpful coping methods to easy re-entry anxiety
Though it’s fantastic news that COVID cases continue to decline and vaccines are widely available, some of us may be nervous about returning to life as we knew it. Some are anxious to resume regular activities like shopping, seeing a movie, or attending a concert; it might seem easier to just continue distancing from the external world. But, at some point, it is necessary to get back to living in society and doing enjoyable things.
Humans are social creatures and even the most introverted of us still need social interaction on some level. It might take some of us longer than others to become comfortable with gatherings and in-person interactions again.
Social anxiety has risen since the start of the pandemic. According to an American Psychological Association survey, nearly half of American adults are anxious about having face-to-face interactions right now. If you feel reluctant to revert back to doing things the way you did before the pandemic, we discuss six things you can do to help ease your re-entry anxiety.
The trauma of living through a pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, panic spread quickly. Some people started hoarding supplies while others went into denial. Soon, we were stuck mostly indoors, hoping we’d be safe from the life-threatening virus that had spread across continents without prejudice.
Many of us experienced the pandemic, lockdowns, and social isolation as traumatic events. We were thrust into a new normal with little warning. And then, shortages of bottled water and essential household items made things more difficult. It was a new life stressor that few had experienced before.
Combined with job losses, health woes, and economic uncertainty, many of us went into survival mode. So, now that we can see our friends in person and return to the office, it’s understandable that many of us are having trouble transitioning out of survival mode and re-entering society. It is possible, however, and we will show you how by giving six tips below.
1. Take it slow
Just like we had to adjust to lockdowns and social distancing, we now have to adjust to in-person interactions. Allow yourself an adjustment period. If you have to return to the office, talk to your employer about adopting a hybrid work schedule. Be it temporary or permanent, limiting the amount of time you’re required to interact with others in the office can help reduce uneasy feelings.
Take baby steps into resuming previous activities that required face-to-face contact. If your social group has begun regularly hanging out again in person, discuss alternating between in-person and virtual meetings until everyone is fully comfortable gathering in group settings.
2. Get vaccinated
We now have three highly effective vaccines that have helped reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the severity of symptoms, and the possibility of death. People who are vaccinated are much less likely to contract the virus and if they do, they are much less likely to have a severe outcome.
If you haven’t been vaccinated against the virus, doing so will benefit you and your loved ones. It should help ease your re-entry anxiety, as well, since you will be much more protected.
3. Control what you can and let go of the rest
When we feel like we have a lack of control, it causes anxiety. We worry about what “bad” thing might happen since we can’t control it. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge the things we can control and the things we can’t.
For example, we can control our behavior. We can’t control the behavior of others. If others’ behavior causes us to feel uncomfortable, we can choose to remove ourselves from the situations that provoke these feelings. Moreover, we can’t control much of what happens to others, like our loved ones. However, we can accept this fact and choose to let go of our attempts to control them.
4. Do things you enjoy
Doing activities you find enjoyable can help alleviate the stress you may be feeling about getting back out there. If spending time with family members or friends is something you like, this is can help motivate you to take the next step into re-entering the outside world.
It might help to make a list of things you enjoy doing that require you to leave the house. Things like seeing a movie, having drinks with a group of friends, even taking part in a roller-skating group or a cosplay event can help you get excited about being rejoining society. You can also wear a well-fitted face mask and continue to distance while partaking in activities.
5. Practice mindfulness
It’s easy for us to get so involved with our daily activities that we neglect to take care of ourselves. Take some time to check in with yourself periodically. A regular self-check-in can help you recognize when you need to take a break.
One way to do that is to take a minute to notice how you’re feeling in the moment. How do you feel mentally, physically, and emotionally? When you’re in tune with yourself, you learn to recognize your triggers and how your body responds to them.
If you find yourself feeling anxious about being in a space with more people than you’re comfortable with, then check in to decide if you should stay or leave. Setting aside a few minutes to be in the moment or focus on your breathing can also help you when you feel anxious in your surroundings.
6. Consider seeing a therapist
Last year, one in six people saw a therapist for the first time. When the lockdowns lifted and more people were out and about, some of us began to feel a sense of anxiety about our safety and that of our families and friends.
Living through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic is a life transition most of us didn’t expect to experience. And, the mixed messaging about how to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe created more uncertainty, which led to more people seeking help to manage the anxiety.
It can be hard for us to express what we’re feeling because we don’t know what’s causing us to feel a certain way and why. Therapy is a productive way for people to learn how to identify the emotions they’re feeling and the causes.
Re-entry anxiety is a new concern for many of us, and talking to someone can help. Our therapists at Love Discovery are here to help you learn ways to cope with this and other mental health concerns. Call 786.571.4636 for a free consultation. Schedule an appointment today with one of our licensed therapists and get back to life as you knew it.