Adjusting to a Post-pandemic Life
Last year, mental health experts warned about “pandemic fatigue” as people were tired of staying at home and wanted to be social. As more Americans are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, restaurants, and stores are returning to full capacity. Additionally, many canceled or postponed social events may be back on the calendar.
Now as there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, experts are worried about a different phenomenon on the rise—re-entry anxiety. In fact, the American Psychological Association reports that Americans are experiencing the highest levels of stress since April 2020, and that half of those surveyed adults are uneasy about returning to in-person interactions.
Coping with Re-entry Anxiety
Re-entry anxiety can look different for everyone. Some people may be concerned about going into the grocery
store without a mask on. Some people may be concerned about going out to dinner with friends. Some people
may be concerned about returning to work in the office. Regardless of the situation, it’s completely normal to
have some degree of anxiety as you begin to get back to pre-pandemic activities.
If you’re feeling anxious as you transition back to your pre-COVID life, consider the following five coping tips:
Make a list. By creating a post-pandemic bucket list, you can shift your thinking from anxious to positive by thinking about what would make you excited. These activities can be big or small. It’s all about focusing on the new possibilities this summer. If you don’t want to try something new, focus on a positive thing—like work-life balance or spending more time with family—that happened as a result of the pandemic and continue to prioritize it.
Do what makes you happy. Even if it’s only for a few minutes a day, engage in something fulfilling. Some examples include listening to music, playing a game with your child, or exercising. By doing something meaningful based on your interests, you may enhance your emotional well-being.
Start small. Reintroduce activities slowly with a couple of commitments or social events, instead of filling the calendar right away. Pace yourself and practice saying, “no.” If you’re feeling anxious and jump in at full speed, you may burn out very quickly.
Set boundaries. Focus on setting boundaries based on the areas of your life that you can control and then communicate to others about what you’re comfortable doing. There’s no need to apologize for not wanting to do something, so clearly explain how you feel and be respectful of others.
Take care of yourself. If you’re struggling with anxiety, pause and listen to your body. Notice your breath and how your body is reacting. This is a time to remember that you are in control. It’s important to pay as much attention to yourself as possible during this time by getting enough sleep, eating well, and taking time to relax or recharge. Re-entry anxiety can be alleviated when managed in a healthy way. If you’re worried about your mental well-being, please contact a doctor or health professional.