The past year has been highly stressful for most Americans, partly due to the threat of becoming ill and partly due to the changes in social distancing we’ve been forced to make.
Initially, we had very little time to prepare for the adjustments that were coming our way, and as a result, adapting became a significant challenge.
Finally, it seems that the country is going to reopen thanks to the availability of vaccines, but this reopening is likely to introduce brand-new stressors.
Post-pandemic anxiety may be an issue for people who will be returning to physical workspaces, classrooms, and overall trying to adjust to the “new normal.”
Why Do I Feel This Way?
It’s important to understand that if you’re experiencing anxiety in relation to returning to work or school, you’re not alone.
Many people are dealing with feelings of post-pandemic anxiety and under all of the unique circumstances surrounding these feelings, there is a simple explanation for them.
We are getting ready to do something that we have not been doing on a regular basis for more than a year.
Because of this, it almost feels like a brand-new experience, like we’re actually starting a new job or attending a new school.
If you recall the way you felt when you showed up at work on your first day, it might make post-pandemic anxiety feelings seem a little more familiar.
Post-Pandemic Anxiety Is Real.
Though almost everyone wants the world to return to what it once was, so many things have changed that it feels unlikely that “normal” will be possible.
In addition to isolating at home, the world has watched social justice causes unfold before our eyes, and the need for accessible mental health services became more and more obvious.
These things in tandem with concern for safety, development of social anxiety, and the approaching return to working in close quarters with people again can make the future feel frightening and uncertain.
Many people feel the same apprehension when it comes to emerging from the lockdown.
Your feelings are 100% valid and understandable.
How Do I Manage Post-Pandemic Anxiety?
Despite how it sounds, returning to work after the pandemic is a new experience, and dealing with the stress of that new experience requires self-care.
To help manage your symptoms of post-pandemic anxiety, you may benefit from trying one or all of the following stress-management options.
- Plan ahead. Even if you’re planning only the small things that you can control, act on the control you have and make plans here and there. This way, you’ll be able to anticipate when certain actions are going to occur and prepare yourself for them.
- Keep personal boundaries. Some people are going to adjust faster than others, and it’s okay to say no to something if it presses into your personal boundaries. For example, if a co-worker invites everyone out for after-work drinks, you’re allowed to say no and go home if you’re not yet comfortable with crowds. There should be absolutely no shame in adjusting at your own pace, and not doing things exactly the same way others do is acceptable when it comes to your unique journey.
- Focus on your coping strategies. If you have coping strategies that help you manage your stress, don’t forget them when you return to work. Keep your deep breathing exercises, go for walks, and take moments to yourself when you need time to cope.
- Talk to someone. If you’re struggling to manage your anxiety, talk to someone you trust about what you’re experiencing. If you worry about being invalidated by your friends and family, speak to a licensed professional. A licensed mental health therapist can help you work through the struggles you’re facing, make sense of your feelings, and aid in the development of healthy new habits.
If you feel overwhelmed and panicked about returning to some sense of normal, you may benefit from speaking to a professional therapist.
Therapy can provide you with a judgment-free area to voice your concerns and come up with ways to manage the stress you’re experiencing.
You’re preparing to undergo a new experience and just as it’s reasonable and acceptable to feel anxious about upcoming changes, it is also acceptable to ask for help.
If you’d like to seek support for your post-pandemic anxiety, you’re welcome to contact our offices as soon as you’re ready. We’ve helped many people struggling with their anxiety, and we would be honored to help you, too.
Please feel free to reach out to us to set up a complimentary consult call so we can match you with the best therapist for your situation.