By Laurie Muscari, Director of Patient Care Services, Behavioral Health Unit at Putnam Hospital
Many people have been looking forward to the day when the COVID-19 pandemic would subside enough to allow a return to the “new normal.” For some, this causes a great deal of anxiety. Due to decreased infection rates and the availability of vaccines, many states are gradually dropping the safety measures that have been in place for more than a year.
According to mental health experts, anxiety will be the most common challenge people will encounter while they acclimate to a return to some sense of normalcy. People will need to adjust to new routines: being in crowds, not wearing masks, returning to work and school, along with many other activities that have been curtailed by the pandemic. Anxiety can manifest in different ways, including through panic attacks, depression, substance abuse, overeating and avoidance. Some people may quit their jobs to avoid returning to this setting, and others will turn down invitations to social events in an effort to stay insulated from potential disease exposure.
Anxiety can range from mild to disabling. Returning to pre-COVID-19 routines should be taken slowly for those with moderate to severe anxiety related to the pandemic. Employees should be honest with their employers about concerns related to returning to the workplace. Employers should do their best to accommodate those needing modified work schedules until ready to return full force. Children returning to school should be watched closely for behaviors indicative of anxiety as evidenced by poor grades or new disciplinary problems.
Go easy on yourself if you are experiencing new or worsening anxiety. Try some deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, distractions such as watching TV or reading and talking with friends or family. If needed, gradually step back into your old routines at a pace that is comfortable for you. And remember, this too shall pass.
Learn more about Behavioral and Mental Health Care at Nuvance Health.