This past spring, most of our country went on lockdown to help stop the spread of COVID-19. It was something we hadn’t experienced in our lifetimes. The entire situation caused lots of stress and anxiety, whether we were worried about getting the virus, changes with our employment, caring for kids who suddenly weren’t going to school or something else.
Now as our economy reopens, you may find you have a new kind of anxiety: social anxiety. No matter how much you enjoyed going out and being around other people before, you may have new discomfort now. And if you already had social anxiety before, months at home may have made it worse.
Here’s how to manage things as you and your family enter this new normal.
Go slowly and be patient
First, you don’t want to go back to your normal life full speed ahead. Chances are you can’t anyway as places reopen with new guidelines to keep everyone safe.
Start by visiting public areas where you feel the most comfortable and ease into the rest. If you’re concerned about going to work, talk to your supervisor and take advantage of any opportunities to continue working at least some of your hours at home.
It’s also important to be patient with yourself and others. If you do feel strange going back out in public, don’t feel bad about it. Many people around you are likely dealing with some sort of social anxiety right now.
Take safety precautions
If your anxiety stems from fear of getting the virus from other people when you’re out, do what you can to keep yourself safe. These preventive actions include:
- Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap as often as you can
- Regularly disinfecting surfaces that you often touc
- Practicing social distancing, and avoiding places where large crowds are gathered
In addition, wearing a face mask will help protect others – and will encourage them to do the same to help protect you.
Before heading out, you may also want to plan ahead by picturing yourself in a situation. Think of what you’ll say to people you haven’t seen in a while or what you’ll do when you’re in a certain store or other location if someone gets too close.
Practice old routines
Your routine has probably changed since this pandemic began. You may have strayed from your healthy diet or started spending more time indoors being less active.
A great way to help with this transition is to get back to your typical schedule as much as possible. For example, you may be staying up late at night and sleeping later in the morning. Start going to bed early and getting up in time for work or school again. This will help you feel more normal and prepared when you do go out.
Find ways to relieve stress at home
When you’re not out around other people, make sure you’re finding ways to take care of yourself and relieve stress at home. This will help prepare your mind and body for each trip outside.
Talk to someone
Because this is such a new situation, you may need professional help. This is especially true for people who already had mental health conditions like anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder before the lockdown.
Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to COVID-19.