How to deal with re-entry anxiety as society opens up again |

How to deal with re-entry anxiety as society opens up again

Miguel Octavio
Updated: May 31, 2021 11:24 PM
Created: May 31, 2021 10:43 PM

(ABC 6 News) - This past weekend marked the first time COVID-19 restrictions for Minnesota bars, restaurants and businesses were gone. 

Many took advantage of it over the holiday weekend but it's also making others feel uneasy. 

After a year of social distancing and masking, some people aren't used to life without coronavirus restrictions. In other cases, parts of the pandemic made life more convenient such as working from home.

A clinical psychologist from the Mayo Clinic said the feeling is normal and it will take time to adjust.

Stay-at-home: Those three words were embedded in our new norm for one year. 

By staying apart, officials said someday, it would all be worth it. It was for Nicole Minton of Rochester.

With vaccines in and restrictions out, Minton said she finally got to reunite with old friends again after more than a year.

"We hugged. It was the best feeling ever," Minton said.

Her 7-year-old daughter Amelia said it's been fun to be with friends, especially when classes went back in-person.

"It's exciting," she said. "You get to do a lot more things with your friends."

They and many Americans are relieved to live life more like it was pre-pandemic but not everyone is quite ready yet. 

Minton said while she and her family feel comfortable, she understands not everyone is and respects those who don't.

"Being in this community, having the respect for all the medical staff that we interact with," Minton said. "Knowing that they're truly the frontlines still, protecting your loved ones."

Dr. Craig Sawchuk said people are experiencing a social rust as we recover post-pandemic. Sawchuk is a clinical psychologist and chair of the Division of Integrated Behavioral Health at Mayo Clinic.

"Some of us are just not used to being around crowds of people again," Sawchuk said. "We eventually, for the most part, adapted as best as we could during the start of the pandemic. Now, we're kind of doing the same thing in reverse."

He suggests for people to go at their own pace.

That could include gradual approaches to activities. For instance, Sawchuk said that could start with a small gathering outdoors with friends before heading to a restaurant. 

Sawchuk also recommends people communicate their boundaries and comfort level with others. That way everyone is on the same page.

But if you are ready to get out there, be patient with others, Sawchuk said.

"We don't know the circumstances that everybody has gone through," Sawchuk said.

Sawchuk also added it's good to continue self-care habits like paying attention to exercise, sleep, and other relaxation techniques. 

Sawchuk said he saw the biggest surge in mental health services in his career from the pandemic but added that awareness could further destigmatize mental health in the long run.

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