Under state and local guidelines, many of us have been essentially stuck in our homes for the last few months. It makes sense then, that now, as states begin to reopen, many of us are feeling anxious about venturing back out into the world. That’s why we checked in with Jason Woodrum, ACSW, a therapist at New Method Wellness, for his tips on dealing with re-entry anxiety.
4 Therapist Tips for Dealing with Re-Entry Anxiety as COVID Restrictions Are Lifted
1. Be Patient with Yourself
This advice is crucial pretty much any time, but especially right now. Woodrum reminds us that what we perceive as “normal” isn’t going to come back in a single day. “This will be a gradual process filled with daily reintegration of parts of our lives that haven’t been present for the better part of this year,” he says. If you’re feeling unsure about leaving your comfort zone, start with baby steps and take time to celebrate each and every one, whether it’s safely enjoying a drive-in movie or an outdoor patio meal. “For the time being, it’s going to be the little things that define our reintegration,” Woodrum notes.
2. ‘Normal’ Is Whatever You’re Comfortable With
Though there will probably come a day when the mandates around social distancing or wearing a mask end, Woodrum tells us that doesn’t mean we should feel uncomfortable holding onto these precautionary measures for longer. “Whatever your boundaries are, discuss them with those around you regularly. People will respect and understand your continued need for safety.” Though you might feel awkward or silly or like you’re overreacting, you know your body and mind best, and you shouldn’t be afraid to do what feels right for you.
3. Remember How Far You’ve Come
“What a year for resilience,” Woodrum says. “As a group and individually, we have shown ourselves to be adaptive in ways we never thought we would have to be over the course of 2020.” He recommends taking the time to look back on how far we’ve come, and the way we’ve made it through it during this challenging time. We found toilet paper on largely empty shelves. We figured out unique ways to support our favorite restaurants. We learned how to make sure we’re washing our hands for 20 seconds or longer. He notes that we’ve shown a tremendous ability to roll with the punches and get through some really challenging times. Reminding ourselves of this, he tells us, “creates a foundation of assurance that no matter what comes next, we’ll succeed and achieve throughout that as well.”
4. Hold Onto Your New Quarantine Hobbies
Whether you’ve picked up needlepointing or mastered your sourdough technique, Woodrum tells us that our newfound hobbies have served an essential function in providing safety and comfort during a time when those were in limited supply. Moving forward, any time you’re feeling challenged in work or your personal life, remember the comfort those activities provided over the past months, and use them as self-care techniques moving forward. “Find the time to nurture yourself, and nurture your own needs,” Woodrum stresses. “And whatever you do, don’t feel selfish for needing to do this periodically.”