May 23, 2022 4 min read
While many are looking forward to COVID-19 restrictions finally lifting, others are feeling apprehensive about the changes ahead. Will I be able to adjust to the “old normal?” Does this mean I’m more likely to catch or transmit the virus? And how do I navigate relationships after social distancing for so long?
If you’re usually prone to anxiety, it’s normal to see your anxiety flare up now. Anxiety, after all, is worry about anticipated events and is often mixed with fear of change. And while nearly everyone experiences some level of anxiety when life brings about changes, anxiety can create problems for those whose anxiety has become pervasive and chronic.
To learn what you can do to navigate anxiety as we re-enter society, keep reading. You’ll first learn what anxiety is, why many are now being affected, and what to do to manage it.
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension, tension, or uneasiness in anticipation of perceived danger. It differs from fear, which is an emotional reaction to a real threat. Thanks to evolution, we developed this “fight or flight” response to alert us of potential predators or dangers so that we may take evasive action and protect ourselves. However, significant and persistent anxiety is a sign of an anxiety disorder, which affects 2-4% of the population. Examples of anxiety disorders include:
For those affected, this can mean that the duration and severity of the anxious feeling is disproportionate to the actual trigger. Physical symptoms such as nausea and increased blood pressure can also occur, which can cause further distress.
In the early days of the pandemic, there was a 25% increase in cases of anxiety disorders worldwide. Researchers note that this was likely an acute reaction to the unexpected and unknown emerging crisis. For some, this increase in anxiety was temporary, but for others, it persisted and even worsened.
As restrictions around the globe are being lifted, it makes sense to be apprehensive about returning to pre-pandemic life.
Coming out of lockdown can be scary, even though you may have positive changes ahead of you. Keep in mind that this is completely normal since we are creatures of habit and are apprehensive about the unknown. There are many things you can do to ease your anxiety as you adjust to post-lockdown life:
Read up on current laws and restrictions in your respective city before going out. Get this from trusted sources. Most businesses have their covid guidelines on their website or are happy to provide you with them over the phone. Knowing what to expect can help you avoid potential triggers as you ease back into socializing.
Maybe you aren’t ready to for-go masking and social distancing– and that’s totally fine! It’s important to understand your own comfort levels when it comes to social interactions. Being open and direct with those you plan on spending time with will lessen the feeling of uncertainty.
Jump, run, dance or just flail around! Movement is a powerful tool for anxiety management. Not only will this interrupt any ruminating thoughts, studies have found that exercise lowers the levels of stress hormones being released in our bodies. Something as simple as putting on your favorite song and dancing for a few minutes can do wonders for easing anxiety.
Grounding techniques such as the 5-4-3-2-1 Method help you create space away from distressing feelings like anxiety. In your current environment, take note of 5 things you can hear, 4 things you can see, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This technique is great for shaking those anxious thoughts and returning you to the present moment.
If you find that you can’t manage your post-pandemic anxiety on your own and that it’s interfering with your ability to function, it’s time to seek help from a trained professional. Your doctor may recommend medication, therapy, or a combination of the two.
Have a friend struggling with anxiety as restrictions are lifted? There are ways you could help.Jack.org, a Canadian non-profit organization, offers helpful tools and advice to anyone who wants to help someone struggling with mental illness. TheirBe There program includes free courses to help you learn how to help a friend struggling with anxiety and other mental health problems. And because May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we have decided to partner with Jack.org and donate $1 to them for each Good Morning Snore Solution Sale.
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Gillihan SJ.The 3 Best Ways to Manage Anxiety.Psychology Today. Posted February 18, 2020. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/202002/the-3-best-ways-manage-anxiety
Anderson E, Shivakumar G. Effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety.Front Psychiatry. 2013;4:27. Published 2013 Apr 23.doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00027
Norelli SK, Long A, Krepps JM. Relaxation Techniques. [Updated 2021 Sep 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513238/
Epps. T Struggling with Social Anxiety as We Prepare for Re-entry Post-COVID? Anxiety Expert Shares How to Cope. Penn Medicine News. Published April 21, 2022. https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-blog/2022/april/struggling-with-social-anxiety-as-we-prepare-for-reentry-post-covid-anxiety
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