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Does Being Unmasked Have You Feeling Anxious? You Are Not Alone

Over the past two years, we have been forced to learn how to manage and tolerate uncertainty. This can be difficult for many people. The pandemic prompted a series of emotions on a rollercoaster that just wouldn’t end. Fear and uncertainty were common.  Is this really happening? Confusion was also widespread. Who should I believe? As the weeks turned into months, and then years, many people continued to feel stress and anxiety. For many, it also felt surreal. This is especially true now, as we are finally in a lull of COVID activity and mask mandates have come to an end. Is it over? Truthfully, we are not sure. What we do know, is that your flurry of emotions over the last two years were real. You are not alone, and it is perfectly normal to continue feeling conflicting emotions as we come out of COVID (hopefully). 

Unmasked and Anxious? 5 Tips to Help You Adjust. 

You wore a mask for the better part of two years. It is completely normal to experience anxiety about shedding a layer of safety that we have relied on to protect us from the pandemic. Just remember, this is also a sign that we are finally returning to some level of normalcy. New normalcy. Below are some tips to help you manage anxiety during this time.

Do what feels right for you. Maybe your mask makes you feel comfortable in some settings. That is completely normal and fine. 

Masks are still optional. If you are not ready to unmask, don’t. It is your choice and you can take things slow. 

Use grounding techniques. Observe, listen, describe, smell your surroundings. Using your senses can be a great way to de-stress and get grounded. 

Just Breathe. You’ve been through a lot. Some people made major sacrifices during the pandemic. The time it takes you to get comfortable with less mandates and fewer mitigations may vary from others, and that’s okay. Just breathe and take things at your pace. 

Reach out to someone. You are not alone. Even if it feels like everyone around you is on a different level than you are, there are others who feel exactly how you do, too. Talk about your feelings. If it makes you both happy and scared to unmask, own that. You are not alone in how you feel. 

Enjoy the new normal. While it is okay to be afraid and uncertain, it is also important to realize that we have made it to a safer place regarding the pandemic. Allow yourself to relax, reflect and when you are ready, regain your sense of normal.

Innovative Therapy is here to help you cope with life’s stresses. Visit us online for more information about our team and to schedule an appointment.

Feeling Socially Awkward After COVID Quarantining? You are Not Alone

socially awkward covid-19

COVID-19 changed our lives in radical and unexpected ways. Most people went from busy, bustling schedules to a much slower pace. We opted to Zoom friends and family versus meeting in person. We skipped hugs and waved from a distance instead. Holidays and special occasions were put on hold or done online. Working from home became the norm, and some people were almost completely isolated from others. After more than a year of COVID restrictions, will a return to our “old lives” be possible? Yes, but as with many aspects of human behavior, people’s adaptability will vary. Some will recognize the new environment and adapt, while others will refuse or lack the resources to do so effectively. You may face some of these common struggles as you emerge from your COVID lifestyle and adapt to your new environment. 

You May Feel Socially Awkward

Restrictions have been eased, vaccines are being administered and the world around you is beginning to look and feel more normal. Still, you may be hesitant to say “yes” to the birthday party your friend is throwing, or the night out that you so desperately need. When you do go, you find yourself feeling socially awkward. Do you give a handshake, fist pump, or hug to say hello? Are you standing too close to others? Why is everyone unmasked? It is normal to have these feelings. Everything you have done for 14 months will feel like it’s suddenly being tossed out the window. It will take time to feel comfortable in large groups again. This is all normal, take your time and don’t dive in all at once. Start by seeing a core group of family and friends that you have missed the most and branch out from there. Soon you will feel more comfortable resuming other activities, too. 

You May Require a Bit More Personal Space

After staying socially distanced for more than a year, close talkers and friends who go in for a hug instead of simply saying hello may test your limits. It’s okay to need some personal space. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and lead the way. Vocalize when you are feeling uncomfortable and give yourself some distance. In time, all will seem normal again. 

You May Need More Me Time

Staying home for the bulk of 2020 allowed many people to enjoy “me time” they simply didn’t have enough of pre-pandemic. As things resume, do not overbook your schedule. Save some sacred “me time” so you can continue to have time for yourself. Whether you reflect and meditate, read a book, exercise or simply unwind, enjoy it. Overscheduled lives lead to unnecessary anxiety and stress, which puts a strain on your mental and physical health. 

You May Be More Selective with Your Time

COVID provided an acceptable excuse to get out of almost anything. Even if you felt an event or activity MIGHT be safe, you could always say “Sorry, I can’t because of COVID” and it was okay. COVID also provided an opportunity to prioritize your activities, your obligations, and even your friends. Many people will be more selective coming out of COVID. They’ll realize the joy of saying “no” so you can have more time with your family, or even more time to yourself. Others will have learned which friendships mean the most to them and will reserve time for only those relationships moving forward. 

You May Be More Anxious

COVID was a scary time for many people, especially in the early months. Our schedules completely changed and almost everything was done from home. It’s normal to feel anxious as these things go back to the way they once were. While it may be a very welcome change, it is still change, and change can cause us to feel anxious and uncertain. If you are feeling this way, know you are not alone. The pandemic changed all of us. Consider talking with a therapist as you adjust to life post-pandemic. Therapy is an effective way to work through changes in life, be it COVID or something else entirely. 

If you feel any of the above, know you are not alone. According to the CDC, the percentage of adults with symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, and the percentage of those reporting an unmet mental health care need increased from 9.2% to 11.7% from August 2020 to February 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic caught the world by surprise and turned things upside down.  It caused fear, anxiety and sadness for many people. Most of all, it wasn’t short-lived. The impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders will stay with us for a little longer and it will take time for people to feel comfortable being in large groups again. Give yourself time, space and talk to someone if you are struggling. 

Innovative Therapy, part of Innovative Care, has five dedicated therapists on our team.

Visit us online to learn more about our services, or email us to schedule an appointment.