Anxiety And The Return To Normalcy

With day-to-day changes in the number of individuals vaccinated within New Jersey, comes new decisions that need to be made. Do you go back to in-person work? Should you attend the party for your friend? Am I comfortable going to see a movie in person? Is it possible to safely go grocery shopping in person again?

After many many months of being told that it is best to stay within your home, now the time has come to have to interact with others. The time for transition has come whether or not the country as a whole and more specifically yourself are ready for it. Anxiety can be amplified by these factors.

TRANSITION! The thought of transition by definition includes moving from one thing or activity to the next. That is exactly the state that we are currently in. More than most, this transition includes many variables and unknowns that can be extremely anxiety-inducing.

You often find yourself wondering: How should I act around others? Should I still distance myself? How do they feel about handshakes? Do I disclose my vaccination status to make others feel better? These are all common thoughts that are arising now that socialization is becoming acceptable again but they do not have to control how you handle the situation.

Remember the following important concepts moving forward to reduce anxiety:

  • Take a breath- It’s important to remember to breathe. The decision on what is done is ultimately yours.
  • Take baby steps- Instead of having a hang out of 30 people be your first event out, start off small and meet with your closest 2 or 3 friends.
  • Focus on the off hours- If you want to experiment by going back to the grocery store, try and find the quietest hours when there may be fewer people there.
  • Do what brings you comfort- If wearing your mask makes you feel better, then continuing doing so. Even though the restrictions are lifted, it does not mean you have to stop wearing a mask.
  • Focus on your self-care because you are worthy of it.

SELF-CARE! The practice of self-care becomes even more important when the anxiety that is building is due to the feeling of not being in control of the situation. The pandemic and the aftermath are perfect examples of the most uncontrollable situation. Taking care of your body and mind will cause your mental health to become stronger and your overall anxiety to decrease.

  • Get Enough Sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Limit the use of technology
  • Take times for yourself
  • Create and maintain a normal routine
  • Avoid the media as possible
  • Focus on the positive things around you

Is this TYPICAL? Anxiety is a normal response to stress and the constant requirements of life. Like more physical responses, everyone’s anxiety level fluctuates differently depending on the situation they are currently in. Having the various challenges that the pandemic and returning to the normal present, it is very easy to be pushed beyond your comfort level and the ability you have to cope with it.

Even with using the knowledge you have on handling your personal anxiety and implementing your tried and true coping skills, you may still find yourself experiencing trouble controlling your anxiety levels. If this continues for more than several days in a row and causes a disturbance within your life, it has officially become time to ask for help. Hoping and waiting for your anxiety to go away on its own may never occur and can even cause other symptoms to worsen.

Consider the following options when seeking out help:

  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one
  • Use the support of your faith-based community
  • Call your primary care provider or mental health professional to make an appointment
  • Contact organizations such as National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) for guidance
  • Work with your employer to see if they have a counseling service within your agency

The pandemic is beginning to fade and others are returning to normal, but your anxiety may not. Continue working with yourself and your support group to process returning to normal. Increasing your mental health and coping skills will help you attack life’s ongoing challenges and return to where you are comfortable.

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