Content created in partnership with BraveFace
Whether it be returning to the office for the first time in months, being in a crowd at a summer festival or regaining the pace of your pre-pandemic routine, it’s likely there’s something about a ‘return to normal’ that’s making you feel slightly overwhelmed. If this sounds familiar you are not alone. A recent survey by The American Psychological Association saw 49% of participants saying they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends.
Re-entry Anxiety - what is it?
The University of Iowa Health Care coined the term ‘Re-entry Anxiety’ to describe the fear that can accompany letting go of the safeguards that protected us during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our re-entry into a world that has been changed by the virus.
BraveFace psychologist Nadine Isler says, “When a behavior or activity becomes something we’ve stopped doing, there is typically a level of anxiety around beginning again. This is particularly the case for someone who was already slightly nervous about that aspect to start with.
“In therapy, we often talk about an anxious person’s ‘world’ becoming smaller with the activities they are no longer doing.”
After several months in lockdown, our world may have started to feel very small indeed. As we work back towards expanding these again, it’s very normal to have some nerves around this.
Additionally, we’ve spent a great deal of time being told we are in danger, and which behaviours to employ to keep safe such as wearing masks, washing hands, staying away from others. Our brains have adapted to this, and it’s difficult to just unravel this and let go of the safeguards we have learnt to rely on.
“The reality is that a lot of people are extremely burnt out, says BraveFace’s resident naturopath and nutritionist Steph Gobbo. “While lockdown lifting is the end goal, people are struggling with their energy; it’s not the same as pre-pandemic. The adrenal glands have been working in overdrive through the pandemic with the constant ‘fight or flight’ reactions and emotions.”
While operating in constant flight or fight mode, it’s common to go through periods of insomnia, low mood or anxiety which can in turn impact our digestion, hormones, thyroid functioning, metabolism and immune system.
Navigating a pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone and will take some ‘shake-off’ of what has become our ‘new-normal’.
Expert tips on how to manage Re-entry Anxiety
Stephanie Gobbo BHSc - clinical naturopath and nutritionist
• Go easy on yourself. Remember what you are feeling is very normal, and very common. It won’t last forever. Focus on what you feel comfortable with and what you have energy for.
• Prime your nervous system. Consider adding BraveFace LiveCalm into your morning routine to give you a good dose of adaptogenic herbs which will help your body better manage stress and adapt to new situations.
• Go prepared. If you know an activity is making you nervous, try two sprays of BraveFace CoolHead 15 minutes before you head out the door to help you feel calm and confident.
Nadine Isler BA, GradDip, MSc, PGDipPsychPrac - registered psychologist
• Every small step is a step. Start small, you don’t have to plan a huge party or public speaking event, just try a short catch up with a couple of people to start with. And celebrate the wins - all those small steps add up!
• Do push yourself a little. When something is making you anxious, the sooner you address it the better. It’s about confronting your sources of fear a little at a time.
• If it’s really concerning you, seek help. Adjustment anxiety is normal, and temporary. If you feel like it’s getting bigger than this, and really impacting your life, consider talking to a specialist.
Braveface is available at select pharmacies and online at hellobraveface.com