Managing Anxiety During Community Reopening

With so many difficult decisions to make, here are eight strategies to manage anxiety in the new normal.

 

When COVID-19 lockdowns began, it felt, for many people, unfathomable to stay home nearly 24/7. But for many, it now feels equally strange—and nerve-wracking—to do anything else after months cocooned inside. Psychologists have dubbed the phenomenon “re-entry anxiety.”

 

As society reopens, not everyone is ready. Millions of people face new and difficult decisions about staying safe. Is day camp too risky? Can we visit our grandparents? Should our teenagers be trusted to socialize safely? Will the schools return in the fall? Will jobs come back?

 

Many are struggling to manage their anxiety with no clear road map and so many difficult and confusing choices to make. Try these eight strategies to manage anxiety and relax your mind during the reopening process. 

 

1. Start Small

“Exposure therapy” is safely confronting sources of fear, and it’s the gold-standard treatment for many fear and anxiety disorders. The same tactic may help with anxiety as communities reopen.

 

2. Recognize Your Emotions

peace with emotional self care

When you feel anxious, recognize it. Tell yourself, “that’s my anxiety.” Just putting a label on our feelings helps reduce their power over us.

 

3. Focus On What You Can Control

When you feel anxious, take a minute to examine the things you have control over. While we can’t prevent a storm, we can prepare for it. We can’t control the world and other’s actions, but we can control our reactions. 

 

4. Be Flexible

Some days may feel better than others. After reopening, some days may not go the way we expect them to go. We may have to wait in line, and things may take longer than expected. Flexibility will help you navigate those challenges and changes. 

 

5. Practice Gratitude

Focusing on the positives is a powerful response to anxiety. Expressing gratitude helps keep you in a positive mindset and connect with others. Say a simple, heartfelt thank-you, or make a list of what you’re grateful for. 

 

6. Take A Breath

Breath in and out. These deep breaths help our bodies calm down and refocus. With breathing exercises, we don’t need to worry about counting out a certain number of breaths. Instead, focus on evenly inhaling and exhaling. This will help slow down and re-center your mind.

7. Set Expectations in The Morning

Anxiety often begins even before we open our eyes in the morning. As the day begins, we can feel like victims of circumstance and dwell on potential problems and feared failures. Decide first thing in the morning what kind of day it will be. What quality of thoughts will you cultivate? How will you find joy? Who will you love?

 

8. Take Breaks

Turn off the noise. Turn off the news, unplug from social media, go offline, and don’t feel guilty about it. While we want to stay informed, there is also an overwhelming amount of information, some of which aren’t accurate. Social media and news can cause unnecessary and avoidable anxiety. If your life starts to feel like a record on replay, give yourself permission to switch gears and focus on something completely different.

 

9. Seek Help

conversation about emotional trauma

If your anxiety seems overwhelming — if you’re having trouble sleeping, eating, or interacting in the ways you usually would — get help. Let your family and friends know if you feel like you’re struggling.

 

You might find Seeking Hope’s emotional first aid telecoaching useful. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help during this stressful time! With empathy, understanding, and emotional first aid, we will make it through this together.

 

Anxiety is common, but it doesn’t have to be a part of your new normal. Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can.