Are you nervous to enter the post-pandemic world?
Do you get shaky at the thought of leaving your house?
Do you dread returning to the office or school?
You’re not alone. While many are rejoicing at the reopening of the world, many are also feeling uneasy about returning to “normalcy” after more than a year of being inside. This anxiety could stem from many sources, including the lack of social distancing and masking. For others, these feelings may stem from learning how to socialize again.
For those who are anticipating social awkwardness
I’m not a social butterfly by any means. Some people are naturally social and may fare better in social situations - that’s okay! Those who may want to brush up on their social skills can try these tips:
Practice active listening skills and asking open-ended questions
Start with smaller gatherings or interactions and familiar people
Maintain communication through video/audio calls and text messages (even for 10 minutes each day)
Acknowledge that sometimes there will be awkwardness! Many people are trying to learn how to socialize again
Anxiety regarding a new situation is expected, and isn’t always a disorder. With enough time, some will adjust and feel comfortable again. If you’re struggling with social anxiety, it may be helpful to seek help from a counsellor to learn different skills. These may include restructuring your thoughts, meditation, mindfulness, and other therapeutic methods.
For those worried about safety
With the increasingly lenient public health guidelines, it can be nerve-wracking to know who’s vaccinated or if safety measures will be taken. Dr. Youn, a clinical psychologist at Mass General says that we should take it slow and be mindful of boundaries. Some of us may not experience anxiety until after some time has passed, and others may experience it quite immediately.
Anxiety is not the only condition that we may face post-pandemic: studies have cited Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression as other mental illnesses to watch for. Depending on your job, your life, and your environment, these may pertain more directly to you or your loved ones.
While there are many unknowns still ahead of us, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in your feelings. In fact, I would be lying if I wasn’t anxious about socialization and health guidelines! Being cognizant of our body’s needs and knowing our limitations will be important in this transition to a “new normal”. Let’s keep each other safe and comfortable.