As restrictions ease and people begin going back to work, we are also faced with a new level of anxiety about returning to the world we used to know.
Emerging from weeks of strict coronavirus lockdown, itself a cause of serious mental health disruption, the lifting of restrictions brings for many a sense of trepidation and unease. While some are eager, others are experiencing a lingering fear of the virus and potential risks to their health. Others may be experiencing a sadness about the loss of things gained during lockdown. Questions remain: what is safe? Where is the line between precaution and paranoia?
Coronavirus has caused a mass emotional event. There have been increases in suicidal ideations, family turmoil, irritability, and substance abuse. Being ‘locked down’ with others has exposed boundary issues and other relationship stressors. On the other side of things, though, there are some who thrived in quarantine- for those people, the end of lockdown may bring some reticence about re-entering a more hectic lifestyle.
We strongly recommend that anyone feeling anxiety about returning to work, or the ongoing situation with COVID-19, use the following tips from the National Alliance on Mental Illness to help themselves adjust more easily.
- Do everything you can to help protect yourself and others from getting sick. Taking these steps may help you feel more in control, while also helping to prevent the spread of infection.
- Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
- Clean all high-touch areas every hour.
- Wear a face mask or covering.
- Stay six feet away from others when possible.
- Stay home if you are sick and stay away from others experiencing symptoms if you can.
- Use resources offered to you to help cope with the changes and emotions. If you see a therapist, continue to stay in touch during your transition back into your work routine. If you have never seen a therapist, know that we have therapists near you as well as therapists available for remote counseling sessions.
- You can also take advantage of the COVID resources we outlined here: Michigan COVID Mental Health Resources
- Try to embrace the return to structure. Lack of a routine can be a driving force for many mental illnesses and can heighten anxiety. If you can, try to get into your work routine at home before physically returning – wake up at the normal time, get bathed and dressed as you would normally, and try to return to your normal timeline during the day.
- Try to make sure you are getting a healthy night’s sleep. While it may seem simple, getting enough sleep can make an incredible difference on our mood and amount of anxiety during the day. Try to get back to your routine from before quarantine and try to go to bed without interruptions to allow for the best rest possible.
- Remember – it is okay and normal to feel anxious. There is nothing wrong with feeling anxious about changes and uncertain times, and you are not alone in these feelings.