One year ago, the World Health Organization reported the COVID 19 virus as a global pandemic and the world changed. Requirements for social distancing, wearing a mask and staying at home, for most, resulted in anxiety. Most of us experienced fear and worry about contacting or spreading the virus; gradually, routines developed, and we cautiously adjusted, still with a good amount of stress.
One year later, as the vaccine rollout quickens, and more and more people are getting vaccinated many folks are having conversations about different fears. A survey released last month by the American Psychological Association found that 49% of adults feel uneasy about returning to in-person interactions once the pandemic is over. Vaccination status did not affect the responses – 48% of those who have already been vaccinated say they, too, feel uncomfortable with in-person interactions.
These concerns are understandable. In the past year, we have heard over and over that home is the safest place, so feeling anxious about the prospect of being with people outside our “pod” or in larger gatherings is perfectly normal.
Returning to in person interactions while the pandemic is still ongoing is yet another transition. For those who struggled with anxiety before the pandemic, the anticipation of an impending return to something like normalcy is cause for apprehension. For most, this adjustment will not be easy. Coping skills can help you tolerate, minimize, and deal with stressful situations and managing your stress will help you feel better physically and psychologically.
Coping Skills & Strategies
Review this list to see what might work best for you. It is good practice to implement skills in preparation of confronting changes as you re-engage with social activities.
- Acknowledge feeling symptoms of stress – anxiety; feeling concerned, irritated, angry; having trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Gradually resume activities – set small goals, for example, meet a friend for coffee at an outdoor cafe
- Practice communicating boundaries – saying no if you are not comfortable with an activity
- Plan and think ahead – is there anything that could make you feel uncertain in this situation?
- Buddy up – get together with a friend and support each other through the process
- Stay focused on what is within your control
- Practice mindfulness techniques
- Develop daily encouraging mantras – they will keep you mentally strong
- Exercise/keep active
- Good sleep hygiene
Anxiety can become a problem that interferes with your daily life.
If you need additional support, please reach out to JFCS at 609-987-8100.
Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC