How to Cope With Post-Covid Anxiety

Summer is often a carefree time when you can take advantage of the long days, warm weather, and abundance of outdoor activities. This summer probably feels a little different, though. Yes, all of those things about summer are still true – but we’re also wrestling with something else. Life after Covid.

Though Covid is not entirely over, the crisis of the pandemic seems to have passed for the most part. For the first time since March 2020, life is starting to feel relatively “normal” again. Most of the restrictions have been lifted and we can (finally!) participate in things like dining indoors, attending concerts, and going to sporting events again.  We can even do things like work from the office, travel, and have game nights with friends again without taking the abundance of caution we’ve grown so accustomed to.

So why don’t you feel so excited and carefree about this summer?

Think back to March 2020 when the world as we knew it changed. We all had to adjust very quickly to a “new normal”. Without even realizing it, that “new normal” became our regular “normal” – something that was familiar and constant, whether we liked it or not. But now, it’s time to start transitioning back to our old ways of being. And as excited as we are, it’s also causing anxiety for some people.

We’ve gotten so used to things like social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding crowded places that the thought of dropping those safeguards is enough to provoke anxiety in some people. But what can you do about it?

Here are 4 things you can do to calm your anxiety as life returns to normal

Ease Back Into Life
Restrictions have changed but that doesn’t mean you have to dive back in to things. It’s okay to give yourself some time to readjust. This period of time is a transition, and some people will need more time than others to feel comfortable resuming “normal” activities. Doing things like having friends over for dinner, going to a movie, or taking a trip might be something you work up to. That’s okay. Don’t push yourself too quickly, but consider gently challenging yourself to expand your comfort zone.

Focus On What You Want to Do
Your comfort zone is a good guide to tell you where your boundaries are in regards to certain activities. If you feel anxious about missing out on things you’re not comfortable doing yet, try to flip your way of thinking. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want to be doing, focus on the things that you do want to be doing. Chances are that your comfort zone has expanded over the past several months, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Put a list together of the things that you enjoy right now and maximize those activities. Try not to compare yourself to other people and what their comfort zone is. Understand that your comfort zone will return to a pre-Covid place again, it just might take you a little longer. We say this a lot at Lincoln Park Therapy Group and we’ll say it again here – that’s okay!

Test It Out
Your anxiety might intensify because you don’t really know what it feels like to be “out there” yet, so it’s okay to give yourself permission to explore. For example, you can head to the grocery store at peak hours just to see what it feels like. Challenge yourself to stay and browse for 15 minutes. If you don’t feel safe or if your anxiety increases, it’s okay to leave. You can also carry a mask with you in your purse or pocket – try going somewhere without wearing it but put it on if your anxiety kicks in.

Maintain Your Healthy Habits
Some people found that they really thrive in a less active world and the thought of going back to “normal” feels overwhelming – maybe you found that you functioned better by eating out less or were less tired when you stayed home more. If you developed some healthy habits during Covid that worked well for you, don’t feel like you have to give it up entirely. Rather, figure out how you can integrate them into your life even if it means saying no to people sometimes.

Keep Calm and Take Your Time

As our world opens back up again, every individual  will have to determine what their own “normal” looks like. Though this is the time we’ve all been waiting for, we also recognize that this is yet one more change and transition to get used to. At Lincoln Park Therapy Group, we encourage you to go easy on yourself. Respect your boundaries and your comfort zone, give yourself  little extra time to adjust to these new ways of being in the world, and use things like self-compassion and self-care as added tools to hep you cope with your anxiety. And if you think you might need some extra support, don’t be afraid to reach out and schedule an appointment with one of our therapists. We can help and we’re here for you.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.

 

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