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Monday, June 14, 2021

Ready to Take on the World? By Bea Tifton

The Pandemic is waning. Lockdowns have ceased, mask mandates have been lifted, and people are gathering again. Hurray! Whoo hoo! You can’t wait to go back to your cubicle in a crowded office, attend festivals and have your face painted, or eat at restaurants with the buzz of voices echoing through a full house. Or can you…

When the mask update was lifted, I had friends who jubilantly rushed headlong into frenetic activities, going out to dinner, to movies, to big box stores, even to water parks. My friends at church are starting to ask me when I’m coming back. Committees are restarting. Zoom is being replaced by in person meetings for business or leisure. But my reentry has been a bit slow. 

It’s not only me. 49% of Americans report some measure of reentry anxiety. Many of us lost people we love, some of us lost our jobs and had to reinvent ourselves, and some people just got used to staying home.

Reentry anxiety people fall into two groups, generally speaking. One group is still afraid of catching or transmitting the coronavirus, and the other group is experiencing social anxiety and is afraid their social skills may be too rusty. People who are introverts experienced the lockdowns differently. With no demands to “People” and to make small talk, or to leave the house frequently, etc.  some people felt, well, a secret sigh of relief.

I don’t mean to downplay the terrible toll the pandemic played on our country, indeed, on our world. I lost extended family members, I had people I loved pass away from non-virus causes and could not attend their funerals, and I nearly lost my mother from complications of her own bout with the virus—twice. But I’m talking about just the day to day life changes. Suddenly, there were no business meetings, no committees, and no guilt for just wanting to stay home.

For those suffering from reentry anxiety, mental health professionals have offered some positive steps to take. 

1.  Take small steps, not giant leaps. If you know you have to go back to the office, drive past your workplace and imagine going in. Go to a restaurant on a night that won’t be as crowded. Shop at a small store for a few things before returning to the big box stores. Have a buddy system with someone you love so you can mutually support one another.

2. Give yourself permission to feel this way. Emotions are not right or wrong. It’s how one deals with them that can be positive or problematic. We’ve all experienced trauma to some degree in the last year and a half. We lost touch with friends, lost people to the virus, lost jobs or job status, and it’s okay to feel the effects.

3. Make a list of things you would love to do now that the lockdowns and travel restrictions are lifted. It doesn’t have to be a big trip around the world. Maybe a day trip or just a trip to your favorite store to see all the new seasonal merchandise. Things that make you happy or bring you joy, no matter how small.

4. Get help if you need it. Many people feel guilty or weak if they seek the advice and support of a mental health professional. Actually, wanting to overcome and work through obstacles  is the strong move, and good for you for taking that step. 

 I love staying at home. I am an introvert, like many writers. But I’ve missed my loved ones and just the normalcy of running to the store for a gallon of milk. We can do this. Good on us!

Have you experienced any reentry anxiety? Leave a comment below.

 

13 comments:

  1. I am an introvert also and loved being able to stay home, have what I wanted delivered, and not have to go among people. I too am slow to reenter the outside world. Thanks for the tips.

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    1. I hope they helped. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Although I'm an introvert, I have missed seeing friends. Otherwise, I didn't mind staying home and having things delivered. Strangely enough, the store I missed most was the Dollar Tree. LOL Not every store delivers or ships.

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    1. That's true. And the Dollar Tree is so much fun. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. I am an introvert- so I just dug in and started more activities. When I do go out though, I still wear my masks. Great post!

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  4. I had to recover from a medical issue this fall, and because I'm a homebody anyway, re-entry into groups of people just isn't my thing. Plus, I'm still wearing my mask in closed spaces since I don't trust that all people are vaccinated. Now, with this new Delta variant, younger people are having very bad adverse effects as are unvaccinated others. I don't believe this pandemic is over yet, and it's discouraging.

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    1. Yes, I think we jump-started too quickly. Texas has a high number of people who refuse to get vaccinated, so I wonder. Thanks for your comment and I hope you've completely recovered from your medical issue.

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  5. I do agree with the social anxiety bit. I am a major introvert, and getting back into the slim social circle I claim (choir at church) was difficult, to say the least. But I just made the decision to hold my breath and dive in, and the water wasn’t too bad… 🙂

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    1. Good for you! I hope you are enjoying choir now. Thanks for your comment.

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  6. Like many writers who are accustomed to staying at home and working, my life didn't change much except for seeing the kids and families. I kept on writing, gardening, etc. I understand those who are wary about re-entry. Personally, I won't be mingling with crowds because it's impossible to tell who has been vaccinated and who hasn't. Then there are the people who refuse to wear masks and/or be vaccinated. I see them as a health threat. So I have a wait and see attitude about re-entry.

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    1. Yes, I agree with all your statements. And as I said in a previous reply, Texas has a high number of people who refuse to get vaccinated. I'm going slow as well. Thanks for your comment.

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  7. Sound advice Bea. As for our part of the country, things only changed for about 2 months last year. Then our church reopened and we have the same meet and greet every Sunday where we hug or shake hands. If you don't want to be touched, you wear a face diaper. That's the signal. But only a couple wear them to church, and my husband never wore one inside Walmart. He got some dirty looks and even scoffed at me for putting on on to enter. Don't tell anyone, but I slipped down a vacate aisle every 3 minutes to pull it down and take deep breaths. It stifles me.

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