Anxious to leave the house?

Anxious to leave the house?

If you’re anxious about returning to the office after working remotely or going out to eat without wearing a mask, you’re not alone. About half of Americans are concerned about resuming in-person interactions once the pandemic ends even if they’ve been vaccinated, according a recent survey from the American Psychological Association.

The survey found 48% of adults who’ve been vaccinated were just as anxious about returning to normal as those (46%) who haven’t received a vaccine.

“Being primarily at home this past year has led to minimal social interactions, which can feed into tendencies of social anxiety,” says Dr. Cassandra Edwards at Aurora Health Center in Waukesha, WI.

As more people become vaccinated and social distancing guidelines continue to evolve, Dr. Edwards says it’s best to evaluate what those decisions mean for you. For example, if your employer wants to re-open the office, but you’re anxious about returning in-person don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns with your manager.

“Just because shelter-in-place orders happened suddenly last year doesn’t mean your return to normal needs to be as abrupt,” Dr. Edwards said. “Be open and honest with others about your comfort level as you ease back into old routines.”

Here are some tips from Dr. Edwards to help when you’re ready to slowly dip your toes back into your pre-COVID routine:

  • Shop at the grocery store during off-peak hours or opt for carryout instead of delivery to practice being inside public places for short periods of time.
  • If you’re an introvert who thrived this past year being at home with limited in-person interactions, start small by having a friend or family member over to your house or meeting at a local park.
  • Likewise, be upfront with your family and friends if you’re nervous about resuming in-person gatherings. Tell them where and how you’re comfortable getting together.
  • If you’re back to working in the office, use your lunch break as an opportunity to get a break from being inside whether it’s eating in your car or taking a walk.
  • When you do head out of the house, try mindfulness activities like deep breathing and meditation to help decrease your stress and anxiety.

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About the Author

Vicki Martinka Petersen
Vicki Martinka Petersen

Vicki Martinka Petersen, health enews contributor, is a digital copywriter on the content team at Advocate Aurora Health. A former newspaper reporter, she’s worked in health care communications for the last decade. In her spare time, Vicki enjoys tackling her to be read pile, trying new recipes, meditating, and planning fun activities to do in the Chicago area with her husband and son.