2020 is a year most of us would rather forget. It is a year that plunged the planet into an endless series of lockdowns, masks and social distancing to minimise the spread of the coronavirus. While many businesses switched much of their workforce to work from home, many workers were not so lucky and ended up as an unemployment statistic.
Move forward to 2021, and the world is slowly starting to return to some semblance of normalcy. However, after months of isolation and the media bombarding the public with news of the dreaded pandemic, some people are now living with the anxiety of re-entering society.
If you’re dealing with a bout of reopening anxiety, the first thing you need to know is that you’re not alone. We’ve put together some top tips to help you deal with reopening anxiety in 2021, so you can take the first steps to get back into a more normal routine.
Take It Slow
Many people spent a good portion of 2020 fantasising about what they would do when all the lockdown restrictions were lifted. Now that it’s 2021 and the world is re-opening, some people are feeling the effects of reopening anxiety about resuming life outside of the home.
The key to making this transition is taking it slow. Start by going out for a coffee with friends or a quick lunch. If this still feels a little intimidating, choose an outdoor location and your favourite company. Think of this as a form of exposure therapy. Once you realise it’s okay to venture out, you’ll feel more comfortable doing so more often.
Listen to Your Body & Mind
If you’re feeling anxious about re-joining the world, don’t dismiss those feelings. Listen to your body’s signals and understand that it’s normal to feel a little anxious after the crazy year or so we’ve been through. Identify your feelings a be kind to yourself. Once you accept the feelings and identify the triggers, you will be better equipped to deal with them.
Talk to Your Boss About Any Reopening Anxiety
Many workplaces were happy to have their staff working from home during the worst of the pandemic during 2020, but now many employers are insisting on staff splitting their weeks between working in the office and working from home. Many employees are jumping at the chance to return to normal working conditions but just as many others are feeling quite anxious about being surrounded by their colleagues.
If you are feeling anxious about going back to work, discuss this with your employer. In many cases, employers are more interested in protecting the health and wellbeing of their staff rather than forcing them to come back to the office. If you’ve managed to remain relatively productive during the lockdown, your employer may be happy to allow you to continue working from home and ease you back into the office in a manner that is comfortable for you.
Speak to a Health Care Professional
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are experiencing reopening anxiety. After so many months of lockdown and the horrifying images and statistics flashed through our TV screens every day, it’s perfectly normal to feel a little apprehensive about getting out there again. Speak to a health care professional about your concerns and seek counselling if you feel you need to.
These are difficult times filled with uncertainty. It’s perfectly normal to want to vocalise your feelings and while talking with close friends and family helps, it’s also important to speak with professionals who understand how humans process the information around us.