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As the Covid-19 Era Winds Down, Some are Still Feeling Anxious
After more than a year of living a very lonely lifestyle the nation is starting to restart its engines. COVID-19 appears to be slowing to a crawl, which is great news for all. Of course, things are always fluid when it comes to the virus, so there is no real sense of certainty.
You would think we’d all be chomping at the bit to resume our lives. For so long now we have been up in arms about having to live with little outside contact. No one has been very happy about the lockdowns and social distancing. But now with freedom peeking around the corner, some of us are feeling a bit nervous.
Learning how to resume our normal lives will take some time and patience. We must work through fear and worry and slowly become used to being around people again. Masks will be our constant reminder that we are not 100% out of the woods yet. At least, though, we can begin the journey toward the new normal.
Meanwhile, for those who are feeling anxious it helps to know you are not alone. Lots of people report having post-pandemic anxiety. It should not come as any surprise that many people will struggle with the shifting of gears.
What is Post-Pandemic Anxiety?
Post-pandemic anxiety is a thing. It was likely caused by the constant drumbeat from news sources about how deadly the virus is. By now, people have been told over and over how scared we should be, so that’s how we now feel. Afraid. We worry about catching the virus and being sick. We worry about spreading the virus to loved ones. We fret about going into a store to buy food. It has been a fear-fueled year.
Things that would have never been thought about before are at the front of people’s minds. Concerns like riding on a subway, taking an elevator, or sitting in a closed-door meeting. Others fret about the prospect of dating again, even worried about kissing a person or holding hands on a date.
For others, being home so much really worked for them. These are folks who struggled with social anxiety before we ever heard of Covid. They now stress about having to return to the workplace and social events after having that one-year reprieve. You can see that there is plenty to fret about.
How to Rise Above Post-Pandemic Anxiety
So, with all this anxiety about going back to our old lives, what should we do to ease the pain? Here are some tips to think about:
Take it slow.
Even if you are told to return back to your old job next week, take some baby steps first. Get outside and check out the transit system. See if people are wearing masks. If you drive to work, take that trek to the workplace, even if you don’t yet go inside. That will prime the pump for returning in the near future.
Limit the news.
While you are gearing up to go back to social gatherings, church, or work, try limiting news. Since the news tends toward the daily drama, it might help to put a cap on your news consumption. Maybe read a few headlines online in the morning versus staying glued to the news for hours.
As you start to engage again with friends, family and coworkers know that we must be prepared to revert on a dime. At a moment’s notice a new scary variant may emerge, sending us all back home. While we will hope that will not happen, it is good to be of a flexible mindset just in case.
Take care of you.
After going through so much stress, to ease yourself back to a calmer state you might want to pamper yourself. Tiptoe back to the new normal with some self-care. Maybe get a pedicure, buy a new outfit or two, or see your therapist in person for a change.
Expect some fits and starts.
Don’t expect to just snap your fingers and be back to the old you just because restrictions are lifted. We have all been altered over the past year, in ways that may not ever change back. There will be some good days and some stressful days. Have realistic expectations from the get go.
Get into the habit of winding down each evening with a yoga class. Yoga does wonders for our stress level. It can reduce muscle tension and slow our breathing down, which helps lower anxiety.
Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse
Just a word of warning about the use of a substance to assist you in reducing post-pandemic anxiety: Don’t. Sure, it may seem like a good plan, to relax over a couple of drinks, but it’s just too risky. In fact, the rate of alcohol use during the pandemic has risen quite a bit, and that’s not good.
The last thing anyone needs is to end up with a substance use disorder (SUD) after this is all over. Sadly, this is what is going on. People have been using a substance to self-medicate their mental health symptoms. If you or a loved one has developed an SUD this last year, do get the help you need. Treatment programs will help you work through both the anxiety and the SUD at the same time.
As we move forward as a country into the unknown post-pandemic world, know that we are all a bit scared. Maybe happy, excited, but still scared of the vast post-pandemic landscape. Take one baby step after the other to resume some semblance of normal life.
The Treatment Specialist is Your Online Resource for Mental Health Issues
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If you or a loved one is having signs of post-pandemic anxiety, give our team a call today at (866) 644-7911.