The pandemic has caused some unique challenges to our connection to the outside world. Who would have thought that our homes would become not just the place we sleep and have family time but our places of work (via zoom), of socializing with friends (on FaceTime), of eating restaurant food (take-out)?
A year of living like this was not natural and has caused significant strain on our communications with others and our mental well-being. We lived this way for a year and got used to a ‘new normal’ of seeing few people in person, masking our faces when in public and minimizing in-person interactions. And now, after this long duration of social isolation, our society is rapidly re-opening.
So, like flipping a switch, we are expected to revert back to our old ways. Some people are not finding this transition back to regular life so easy. Some have told me: “even though I have read all the good data on the efficacy of the vaccine, why am I still anxious about getting the virus?” Others have talked to me about feeling anxious to talk to others in person or without hiding behind a mask. One woman recently talked to me about returning to the office in person and how nervous she feels during the workday. It can feel isolating and vulnerable to experience anxiety engaging in activities that used to be done with ease (particularly if others appear to be both excited and comfortable doing so).
Please know that you are not alone! We trained our brain for over a year to fear in-person interactions as we were warned they would increase the likelihood of contracting the feared virus! The media and the culture around us said “hide” to save our lives. It may take some time to reverse that pairing (that exposure to others and going outside can be dangerous) and re-learn that the world outside our homes can be a safe place to be.
Take it slow and gradually push the limits of your comfort zone a little bit every day. Your fear will go down over time as long as you face it. And if it’s too hard to do it alone, contact us, MellaHealth – our clinicians are well-trained to help you.