Inertia, Newton’s First Law of Physics, explains that objects in motion tend to stay in motion. In contrast, objects at rest tend to remain at rest. With COVID-19 forcing severely decreased social interaction and even total isolation in many cases, much of the world’s population is at rest – and has been for over a year. Now, we’re administering vaccines, and restrictions are lifting. This rest period may be almost over. Still, despite things possibly returning to “normal,” a hidden and severe pandemic effect lurks – Re-entry Anxiety.
It’s Okay to Feel Nervous about Re-Entering the World.
Interacting with others is a skill like anything else; when we don’t use it, we lose it. It comes as no surprise to hear that people are more anxious about in-person contact in this post-COVID world. The American Psychological Association found that nearly half of all Americans admitted to feeling some level of fear or anxiety about “resuming in-person interactions” in the post-COVID landscape. If you’re worried about dealing with people out in daily life again, you’re in good company.
Suppose you fear interacting with others again but are also confident that you will get over it. In that case, your anxiety is probably mild. If, however, the idea of being out in public is crippling, then you may benefit from professional counseling. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) administered by a licensed therapist has proven very effective for similar conditions.
How to deal with Re-entry Anxiety.
Self-care and coping mechanisms that are great for mental health, in general, can help a lot with Re-Entry Anxiety, also known as Post-COVID Anxiety. There’s no shortage of information about self-care and coping mechanisms. Still, some specific behaviors and tools that might be particularly beneficial include meditation, deep breathing, affirmations, and journaling about your feelings and experiences. SCL Health mentions to “start small, start soon”. There are many ways to approach this, you’re not alone!
Living in a Post Pandemic World
Regardless of the severity of Post-COVID Anxiety, we should all remember that we did live in a world before Coronavirus. Suppose we successfully navigated social interactions before the pandemic. In that case, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to do so again once society has gone back to “normal.” Still, you should view any anxiety about daily face-to-face interaction as totally acceptable and even expected. We’ve all been out of the ocean for a little while. It may take some time – and even help – before we’re ready to swim again.