Life during the pandemic is slowly returning to a “new normal.” Here in Florida, we’ve reopened just about everything as long as certain rules are followed and masks and social distancing is used.
While many welcome these new freedoms, some people are either wary of going out or are finding their coronavirus anxiety levels are still too high to consider it. Although the prospect of reopening is both welcomed and scary, there are ways to help reduce your anxiety.
First, Be Kind To Yourself If You Are Anxious.
Being worried about your safety and that of loved ones is completely normal.
Knowledge is empowering. It can be helpful to get the facts about the virus from trustworthy sources, like the CDC or your local health department. You should, however, avoid getting information strictly from social media (or even some news reports) where facts and stories are often written in ways designed to scare you.
Be Realistic About Your Expectations.
When venturing out the first few times, keep your expectations low. You will likely relax more once you see that most stores have mask requirements, most businesses have social distancing procedures in place and most people are wearing masks and using hand sanitizer.
Take Baby Steps As You Begin To Emerge From Sheltering In Place.
Just because a phased reopening says you can go to a bar or eat in a restaurant doesn’t mean you have to. Making careful decisions about where you’ll go and when can help you feel in control, which is calming.
When you are ready to resume going places, look for the safer options. When dining out, for example, it can ease some anxiety if you eat outside on the patio instead of inside the restaurant.
If you need to get your hair done, try to make an appointment during off-peak days and times. If you have a dental or doctor visit scheduled, call the office beforehand to find out what new protocols they have in place for safe visits. Maybe you’ll choose to wait in your car until you can be seen, rather than in the reception area.
Or, Jump In With Both Feet.
This is the “rip off the band aid” approach, but it can be highly effective for some people. This is known as a flooding technique.
Wherein taking baby steps might potentially keep your anxiety high in between each new experience, flooding lumps everything together so you get several of those dreaded “firsts” out of the way all at once.
With the flooding method, you might decide to hit the gym, go to the grocery store afterwards, and then end the day by dining out at a favorite restaurant. By doing so, you will see that businesses are doing all they can to keep customers safe, which can ease your anxiety.
Of course, whether you take baby steps or you go all out with reopening activities, you will want to do it responsibly by wearing a mask and staying socially distant.
Keep In Mind That We Need Social Connections.
Social isolation has played a big role in the unease and insecurity we have experienced during the pandemic. Getting out and seeing other people (even just in the aisle of a store) can make us feel like life is more normal, which can improve mental health.
Seek Professional Help If Your Anxiety Is Getting Worse.
If you are having a lot of trouble getting out because you are too anxious or your anxiety is interfering with your daily life and has continued for longer than two to three weeks, it is time to speak with a professional.
You’re Safe With Us
If you are struggling with coronavirus anxiety, reach out and get the help you need. Our office has virtual options available as well as in-person appointments.
For more information, please contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 today.