As mask mandates and social distancing begin to relax, the masks are coming off and friends are getting together again. For many, this is a huge relief. However, taking off the mask and being around people is also now a source of post-pandemic anxiety.
If you’re feeling added pressure and stress of post-pandemic anxiety, know that this is normal. After such a stressful year (and then some) of distancing, isolating, and stressing about going out in public, it’s no wonder you might be anxious! And you’re not alone in these feelings. If you’re ready to take the first steps to be around people again, follow these 10 tips for easing post-pandemic anxiety:
- Know your limits.
The first step to easing post-pandemic anxiety when re-entering society is to know your personal limits. Before you jump into making plans, make a list of the activities that feel most safe and least safe to you. Knowing your limits will help you determine how to respond to invites and different situations. Prioritizing your own safety plays a huge role in your mental wellbeing, so be honest with yourself! As you branch out into more experiences, you can always reevaluate your list. Plus, it never hurts to be in tune with your own mind and body.
- Communicate your feelings.
So your friends invited you out to dinner at a popular restaurant, but you’d prefer a more private backyard gathering. Well, tell them! When it comes to your own comfort and mental wellbeing, communication with those around you is essential. Communicate your boundaries and preferences about re-entering social gatherings with your friends and family. Setting clear expectations makes it more likely they will accommodate your needs, or plan other events that are more comfortable for you.
- Ease yourself into it.
There’s no rush to run out and attend a crowded event. If you’re anxious about removing your mask in public, start with smaller gatherings first. Know that post-pandemic anxiety can creep up at any time, and that’s totally normal. It’s a good idea to bring a face covering with you, just in case. If your anxiety prevents you from enjoying the moment, that’s a good sign to take it a little slower.
- Talk to your doctor.
If you’re concerned about safety as you re-enter the world, your doctor is a great resource for easing your post-pandemic anxiety. They can help you make informed decisions about when you should still mask up. Your doctor knows your health best, so they can help ease anxiety specific to your experience. Plus, doctors have the most up-to-date research and information on how to keep you healthy.
- Practice regular self-care.
One of the best ways to combat anxiousness of any kind is to make time for regular self-care. This is especially true for post-pandemic anxiety! Stress has so many negative effects on both our physical and mental health! It’s a good idea to schedule regular check-ins and self-care sessions, especially when you anticipate more anxiety than usual. Self-care for anxiety can look like: 10-minute meditation sessions, journaling, regular massage appointments, a spa day, or a calming yoga practice. If going to a spa seems like an anxiety-inducing event right now, in-home massage and facials are a good option!
- Find a social buddy.
Pair up with a friend or family member who has similar preferences and hobbies. Rather than worrying about your post-pandemic anxiety, you’re more likely to feel happy about going out and doing things you love. Plus, it’s always easier to have fun when you’re with somebody you enjoy spending time with!
- Stop comparing yourself.
It’s hard to ignore all the fun parties, concerts, and big gatherings you see on social media. But you shouldn’t feel pressured to do things you’re not comfortable with yet, just because others are posting about it. Take re-entry at your own pace, without comparing your experience to others, especially on social media. If you’re having trouble tuning it out, try taking a brief hiatus from social media. Use that time to focus on your own self-care and growth, rather than on your post-pandemic anxiety and FOMO.
- Carry proof of vaccination.
Some settings may require you to show proof that you’ve received a vaccine in order to remove your mask on the premises. Before you leave the house, check with the venue to see if this is something they are offering, and bring your vaccine card or other proof from your doctor’s office with you if you’d like to remove your mask.
- Check your local mandates. Being prepared is a great way to relieve anxiety. Not all cities and states are ready to do away with masks completely. Before you venture out, check your local guidelines to see if masks are still required for the activities you’re planning. For example, a face-covering may be required in your area for entering a healthcare facility or taking public transit.
- You can still wear a mask. If you’re not ready to face the world without a mask yet, you can still wear one!
Preparing yourself for stress-free social gatherings in the post-pandemic world
The last thing your social events should be is stressful. As you get ready to start doing more normal social activities, it’s important to prepare yourself mentally and physically to prevent post-pandemic anxiety. If you haven’t gotten back into a regular self-care routine, now is an excellent time to start! To keep your self-care experience stress-free, take advantage of on-demand and in-home wellness services. When you book a massage with Soothe, for example, a certified massage therapist brings everything right to you, in the safety and comfort of your own home. Avoid crowds, traffic, parking, and anxiety that comes with yet another social re-entry with Soothe.
Moving forward from post-pandemic anxiety
It’s not unusual for big changes to bring about added stress. Especially when those changes are in the context of a pandemic. Whether you’re excited to remove your mask, or still a little apprehensive, anxiety can affect anyone, at any time. Taking care of yourself is more important than ever, and so is checking on those you care about. Know that even if you’re comfortable with a certain situation, others may still be facing post-pandemic anxiety. It’s essential to be kind and compassionate as we all begin to re-enter the world post-pandemic.