Overcoming Re-entry Anxiety

I have been meeting with and talking to people who are fearful and anxious about life shifting back to what it used to be as health and safety restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic begin to be lifted. Looking back to early 2020, it is hard to imagine life as it used to be. There are expectations that people have adjusted to and some that people hope will continue.

I’ve met with students who expect to continue E-learning in the fall and adults that hope their job will remain remote. There are concerns about going to restaurants, returning to shopping centers, meeting up with friends and family, and the unknown of how life will look as restrictions begin to relax.

Yes, re-entry anxiety is real, but there are things you can do to help as we ease back into the world.

Below are some tips that may be helpful to you.

Focus on things you can control.
Wear a mask when you want to. Unfortunately, you cannot force an unmasked person to wear one if it is not a requirement, but you can control your actions to help with your comfort level.

Get into the present moment.
Being aware of what is going on around you is a mindfulness-based intervention that can help reduce anxiety during the upcoming months. Focus on all your senses, not just what you see. A study completed by Hofman & Gomez (2017) found that mindfulness can effectively reduce anxiety as well as depression.

Normalize your feelings.
You are not the only one feeling this way and it can often help to recognize that others are also experiencing the same anxieties that you are.

Take small steps now.
The longer you wait, the more worried you will become and the harder it will be to confront the issue. Take small steps now to overcome your worry and work through the discomfort.

Find a partner.
There is strength in numbers. If you know someone having similar feelings, get together, talk about it, and encourage each other. Take those small steps together.

Think of the positives.
What are you excited to do? What are you looking forward to? Keep in mind your goals. Being focused on the positives can help you in times of stress.

Get out and be active.
A study completed by the APA found that “A majority of adults (61%) reported experiencing undesired weight changes since the start of the pandemic.” Activity has been found to help reduce anxiety and stress and it is a great way to help relax your body. It also helps to build self-confidence as you start to notice things such as clothes fitting better or having more energy to complete things.

Taking slow deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the mouth) can help to reduce anxiety. Deep breathing when anxious sends messages to our brain that there is no need to be anxious, so don’t forget to breath. The CDC recommends it too.

If you or someone you know is struggling with re-entry anxiety and these tips were not enough, contact Pathways Psychology Services at 630-293-9860. We can help.

By Zach Meers, LCPC, NCC




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