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Feeling Anxious About a Post-COVID Life? You’re Not Alone

Megan Mulroy, LPC

           As vaccines become more readily available, there has definitely been a shift in behaviors and attitudes around COVID-19. Recently, we were cleared to be outside without a mask if you’ve been vaccinated, and bars and restaurants have increased capacity for indoor dining. People are once again able to hug their friends and families, go to small parties, and even travel.  Although these changes are really exciting, they are massive transitions.  I’ve noticed a lot of my clients’ express anxiety around a return to pre-pandemic life. If you are feeling uneasy about the upcoming transition, you are definitely not alone.

           According to Is the Transition to Post-Pandemic Life Making You Anxious?, author Andrea Brandt Ph.D. M.F.T., cites a recent study conducted in France where 15 people spent 40 days together in a cave. They had no contact with the outside world and were only surrounded by each other and darkness. What was interesting about the study is that when the experiment was over, two-thirds of the study participants said they wanted to go back into the cave. This lends a lot of insight into what we are going through right now in this pandemic. For many of us, the idea of exiting our cave (i.e. homes in this case), can be scary, and met with a lot of hesitation.

           There are a lot of benefits to returning back to a world post-COVID.  Getting the vaccine can help you feel more confident about seeing grandparents, and you can finally see your friends without freezing outside in a park. But, a lot of people aren’t ready for those changes. There are a lot of benefits to our pandemic life as well.  Many people have gotten very used to their routine at home and have been able to be much more flexible with their schedules. People who haven’t been able to spend time with family have moved home, and we’ve been able to be work wherever we want. We’ve been able to trade leggings and shorts for slacks and have more comfort in our day. Perhaps you’ve been spending more time with your partner, your pet, or just really getting to know yourself.

           If returning to a fast pace of life sounds overwhelming and anxiety producing, it will be important for you to take this transition slowly. There is no rule that we have to immediately return to our hustle right away. It is encouraged to ease back into the old routines.  If you are able, ask your employer if you are able to work from home part of the day or week as to keep some of your routine the same. It’s also important to remember that it’s likely that you have been out of your social routines for some time now. Pre pandemic, you might have enjoyed going to parties for hours at a time or spending all day with a friend. It is natural if that feels overwhelming or scary right now. Perhaps you can start by making an appearance at a party, or just getting lunch with a friend. Show yourself some kindness and do your best to not judge yourself for how you handle this transition. If getting used to working at home and self-isolating was challenging, it is only natural that the reverse will be challenging as well. Everyone handles these situations differently, and the transition will be easier if you are able to show yourself compassion and patience rather than judgment.

           If you are experiencing anxiety, depressed mood, or panic around the COVID-19 pandemic, you are most definitely not alone. This has been and continues to be a uniquely challenging time for everyone.  Contact Symmetry Counseling today to meet with one of our Chicago counselors.

Brandt, A., Ph.D. M.F.T. (2021, May 03). Is the Transition to Post-Pandemic Life Making You Anxious? Retrieved May 04, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindful-anger/202105/is-the-transition-post-pandemic-life-making-you-anxious

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