Worried about getting back to 'normal' life? Health experts are calling it 're-entry anxiety'

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Posted at 2:08 PM, May 12, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - The COVID-19 vaccine is available to any adult who wants it in the U.S. and that means we are closer to returning to a pre-COVID-19 society.

Not everyone feels ready or comfortable to jump back into life as we knew it over a year ago, and mental health experts call it, “re-entry anxiety.”

This type of “Re-entry Anxiety,” comes with going back to work at your office instead of the comfort of home, or the anxiety of feeling obligated to attend social events and family gatherings again.

Dr. Ernestine A.W. Duncan, a psychologist with Norfolk State University, told News 3 anchor Barbara Ciara, the data suggests it took 66 days to form the habit of isolation during the pandemic and it will take at least the same amount of time to re-gain our comfort level.

“So, we have to keep in mind that we have formed a habit of isolation, a habit of being away from people, and so it’s going to take at least another two or three months with positive outcomes for us to begin to feel more and more comfortable. In psychological language, we call that 'exposure,' and so people are giving increasing amounts of exposure to what it is that they fear. If going out or going back to work going to the mall going to a restaurant is the feared event, then we take baby steps until we can get to it, and then when we fully get to it and we can appreciate and enjoy it, then we’ll be more likely to do it again,” Dr. Duncan said.

Dr. Duncan offered some tips to keep in mind to help you cope as our world changes – again:

  • Focus on what you can control
  • Go to places that observe protocols that make you feel safe
  • Reintroduce activities slowly
  • Seek professional help if your anxiety affects your work life or personal relationships. Talking to a mental health professional is the first step to getting back on track if your anxiety level is more than you feel you can manage.

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