“Hope Springs Eternal.” (Alexander Pope in 1700’s) This phrase became so popular it is now a proverb. I’ve said it over and over as signs of spring abound. Can you believe it has been a year since we started living our lives around Covid-19? I am grateful to have had my second vaccine, and am encouraged by progress made and the addition of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. As things are starting to reopen, our field is seeing something new, “re-entry anxiety “
I am a mother of three school-aged kids who last March was stressed out by the unknown and changes as we responded to Covid-19. Now that things are starting to return to a level of normalcy, I now have a new or different anxiety. What’s wrong with me? Things are getting better, right?
What a great question, and right on time! After we did all the adapting to the Covid-19 lock downs and limitations and “hunkered down” at home. That lifestyle became safe and predictable, especially in light of the chaos and unknown. And now, we are faced with negotiating another change — re-entry! You are not alone. In the past few weeks some helpful articles have come out about how to adapt to a different “new normal” (just when we thought it was safe to stay inside). Here are 10 tips to manage re-entry from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America or ADAA (https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/10-tips-manage-re-entry-anxiety-related-covid-19 )
Practice being in the present moment. In truth, that is what we can truly control anyhow. Learning to enjoy the moment was a skill we practiced to get through lockdown and certainly continues to apply. Mindfulness activities can help. See more ideas in the article above.
Recognize what you can and cannot control. This is always helpful. And staying aware of what you truly can control is a huge boom to relationships as well. Control is based in fear. Ask yourself, what am I really afraid of, can I control it, what is the cost of controlling it? Trying to control our spouse, for example, can block intimacy.
- Pay attention to your unique circumstances. We each need to assess our risk and what we can do to reduce our vulnerability. As for me, I’ll be seen in a mask in public for a good while.
- Engage in something fulfilling. This was a fit during lockdown and is so important for mental health in all circumstances. Make a list of things which are uplifting, fun, inspiring, bring humor and connection. Self care has never been more important. And there needs to be a mixture of self care and “soul care.” Only you know what is a fit for you.
- Take a gradual approach. I like the quote, “prudence and caution are strengths in a pandemic” (Richa Bhatia, MD) Don’t feel pressured by anyone or anything. Take your time.
- Journaling has positive health benefits. Perhaps combine it with “time to worry” below.
- Scheduling a set time-limited space to worry each day has been shown to manage anxiety.
- Practice gratitude. Especially when plans go wonky. Lifts our spirits to do so.
- Avoid alcohol or self medicating with any substance. There has been a big uptick in DUI’s. Find healthier ways to cope and seek help if you can’t (without shame).
- Stay connected. Our connections with people have never been more important. It even feels weird to me at this point. Find a safe way to re-open connections and form new ones.