In March 2020, our lives were flipped upside down. We adapted to Zoom meetings and Zoom birthday parties. We shifted to backyard gatherings, even when temperatures dipped. Now, as more Americans become vaccinated, boosted, and companies open their offices, we’re faced with a feeling we didn’t expect: Anxiety about the new normal.
We’ve put together 4 coping skills for anxiety, to help you navigate as the world reopens.
1. Acknowledge you may not be ok, and that’s ok.
Uncertainty creates anxiety. As we return to restaurants, offices and social gatherings, it’s normal to feel uncertain. The first step is to acknowledge that we are all in a readjustment period; this will help you normalize and navigate the struggle. Try writing down your feelings, fears, and hesitations about emerging from the pandemic. This will organize your thoughts and break down what’s really creating those anxious or stressful feelings about ‘the return’.
2. Take baby steps
It’s important that you go at your own pace. Rushing back into normalcy if you haven’t prepared can cause stress and anxiety. If you’re hesitant about going back to your office or a social event, communicate openly with your manager or friend about your comfort level. Take steps to get yourself ready, and don’t feel pressure to move too quickly.
3. Embrace self-care
It’s possible that you found a new hobby, adopted a pet, spent more time with family, or found that hitting the pause button on your previously busy calendar was just what you needed. While the pandemic stripped us of a lot, there are some silver linings from this past year. As we return to normal, it may feel like we’re giving some things up. But these silver linings don’t need to go away, there is still room for them. Plan to continue ‘pandemic traditions’ in the post-Covid world with modifications. Create blocks on your calendar for how you want to spend your spare time going forward; this will provide sources of positivity to look forward to.
4. Buddy up
Having a ‘reopening-buddy’ can help ease fears and anxiety in the return, for both of you. Create weekly check-ins to provide emotional support, get out of your head and talk through your feelings and fears. Try making a list of 10 activities to do together that will get you out of your comfort zone safely. You can slowly build up to conquering fears and hesitations of the new-normal. The two of you may have different feelings and fears around the return, so partnering up will be beneficial for you both.
Whether you’re coping with social anxiety, or coping with anxiety and depression, we’re here to help. At Doctor On Demand by Included Health, therapy and psychiatry visits are available 7 days a week, including evenings and weekends. Choose from a variety of therapists with different backgrounds and specialties. From talk therapy to medication management, we’re here to support your full mental wellbeing.
About the author
Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi is a board-certified adult psychiatrist who passionately believes access to mental health treatment should be available to everyone. She completed her undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins University, followed by medical school and residency training at New York University School of Medicine. She then completed a fellowship in Public Psychiatry at Columbia University. She has also done research on women’s mental health issues. Her approach to treatment is patient-centered and recovery-focused, dedicated to reducing mental health stigma and providing treatments that help patients maintain the quality of life they deserve.