How To Stay Grounded If You’re Experiencing COVID-19 Anxiety As Society Reopens
If you follow the news and social media, it can seem like everyone is excited to rip off their masks and run through the streets en masse. Unfortunately, for folks with valid fears about the lingering COVID-19 threat, this behavior can seem like something out of a gruesome short story by Edgar Allan Poe, convincing you to stay indoors. However, few folks can afford the luxury of staying behind closed doors forever. Eventually, you will need to face your fears and start taking part in daily activities again. Here’s how to stay grounded if you’re experiencing COVID-19 anxiety as society reopens.
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Start with folks you trust
What happens when people you know and love — and miss like crazy — amp up the post-pandemic party activities before you are ready? Limiting your associations to people you trust can keep you safer and improve your mental state.
Before you say yes to that invitation, ask yourself the following three questions:
- How many other people will attend: The more people you encounter, the greater the chances that you’ll meet someone carrying the virus. For maximum safety, stick to gatherings of ten people or less and ask the host if everyone in attendance is fully vaccinated.
- What is the venue: You can’t control how someone cleans their home or how frequently they change their air filters. However, outdoor activities are safer and allow you to maintain social distance more readily than crowded indoor spots. You might want to say yes to that barbecue but decline the invitation for happy hour drinks at the pub.
- How long do you plan to stay: The more exposure you have to large groups, the greater your risk. Try attending only for a short while. While this method isn’t foolproof — it only takes one germ slipping past your body’s defenses — it does minimize your risk of exposure.
You might only choose to attend functions where you feel comfortable coming clean about your concerns. For example, if you have certain autoimmune disorders that require you to take immunosuppressive medications, you might not have full vaccination protection even after you get your shots. A good host should recognize and honor your restrictions.
Minimize exposure when needed
Depending on where you live, your state may have already fully reopened, or your restrictions might be easing soon. In either case, there’s no reason you can’t continue indoor mask-wearing or minimize public exposure long after officials give the green light to stop doing so. Take heart if you are one of those who are anxious to get back out there but nevertheless harbor fears. Even though state officials might have lifted restrictions, individual business owners maintain the right to govern safety measures on their property. You can choose to patronize those that take ongoing precautions. Phone ahead and ask if they take measures like monitoring staff temperatures upon arrival and granting paid leave to those with symptoms. Inquire whether they require masks on-premises and keep up with additional precautions like added sanitation stations around their facility.
Engage in healthy coping activities
Maybe you aren’t planning to head to the salon with the entire gang for pedicures, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to address your cabin fever. With summer here, it benefits you to get outside and engage in activity. Doing so might even boost your immune system, making it less likely that you’ll get sick. Exercise is a superb way to manage anxiety. You aren’t likely to run into too many close encounters on the trail, so why not go for a hike or a bike ride? You’ll release beneficial endorphins and help mitigate any hormonal issues leading to unsettled feelings. Yoga and meditation are also phenomenal for easing anxiety. Spend some time mindfully examining your fears — you might find they aren’t rational once you reframe them. Guided meditations can help you maintain a positive attitude if it feels like the world is moving on without you.
Understand your risks
If you have valid fears due to underlying conditions, please consider booking an appointment with your doctor. They are ultimately the best source of recommendations for which activities are and are not safe for you to participate in, based on your unique health history. Your provider can also put your fears to rest if you aren’t at risk. Hearing that it’s okay to venture forth is much more reassuring when it comes from someone in a lab coat wearing a stethoscope, especially considering the misinformation circulating among laypeople.
Request ongoing accommodations
Did your COVID-19 anxiety rear its ugly head when you received the dreaded “all hands on deck by this date” email from your employer? If you hesitate to return to the office after telecommuting, you are far from alone. Fully 30% of employees in a recent survey reported that they would rather quit than give up working from home.
The Americans With Disabilities Act does give you the right to request reasonable accommodations as long as they don’t substantially interfere with normal business practices. If there’s no reason for you to return to the office, put together a proposal to continue working from home. When you do, cage your request in terms of benefits for your employer. For example, Bloomberg projects that overall productivity will increase by 5% in response to telecommuting spurred by the pandemic. Surely your boss would rather have you increasing output than making an appearance.
Staying grounded as society reopens
If you feel like the world is celebrating the pandemic’s end without you, you aren’t alone. You can make efforts to reduce your discomfort as society reopens with these tips for battling COVID-19 anxiety.
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