As Pennsylvania, and the world, begins to re-open after over a year of being shut down it is an exciting, yet nerve-wracking time. It is no wonder that many of us are struggling with anxiety, grief, and uncertainty as things change—yet again. We have all just been through a traumatic event—the world as we knew it dramatically changed. Post-pandemic anxiety is very real.
If you are nervous about returning to work after working from home, waking up earlier to face long commuting times into Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, or your Pennsylvania city, or attending obligatory social events like birthdays and weddings, you are not alone. Our mental health as a society has been rattled this year.
Here are some tips from Move Forward’s therapists on re-entering society post-pandemic:
1.) Focus on what you can control.
There is a lot that is out of control right now. That fact alone can be anxiety-inducing. But, there are some things that you can control in this post-pandemic world. Focus on those. If you are feeling stressed about an upcoming situation don’t focus on all that is uncertain but rather reframe your thoughts to what is certain. For example, you can control when/if you get a vaccine, your personal distance to others, where you go to attend gatherings (outside vs inside), and whether you wear a mask. You decide if you go or avoid the situation and you decide when to leave. It can help to make a list of all the positives to keep with you.
2.) Make a re-opening bucket list.
There is so much that you wanted to do last year, during the pandemic, that just wasn’t possible. Everything was canceled due to Covid-19. There was so much disappointment. That isn’t the case this year. You can start to do things around Pennsylvania, and the world, again. Make a list of all the things you are excited to do. Boosting your excitement will help to ease some of those anxious feelings.
3.) Accept your feelings.
Don’t try to fight off your post-pandemic feelings, rather expect them. It is ok to feel whatever it is that you are feeling. It is ok to be unsure, anxious, depressed, scared, sad, excited, happy, etc. Whatever it is that you are going through, it is ok. There is no one-way of feeling and no right or wrong way. It is completely normal to be struggling. Counseling can be a great help for anyone who isn’t sure how to move forward in this post-pandemic world.
4.) Move at your pace.
Some people have been ready to re-enter the world for months, while others have continued to stay locked up in their homes for fear of illness. It doesn’t matter where you are on the spectrum of post-pandemic readiness. Move at your pace. If you aren’t ready for a concert or festival, or to send your children back to school, then don’t. If you aren’t ready for gatherings or returning to the office, be open with others. Set boundaries with others on what you are or are not willing to do. You need to take care of yourself.
5.) Stay informed, but not too much.
It is important that you know the latest information on what is safe and healthy and what is not. But, that doesn’t mean it is healthy to have the news on 24/7 or be glued to your devices. Disconnect. Recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed and turn it off. Get your information from reliable sources and leave the rest.
6.) Get help when you need it.
Living through a global pandemic is traumatic. It is perfectly normal to be struggling. If you are having trouble moving forward or re-entering the post-pandemic world, consider seeing a counseling professional. A licensed therapist can help provide healthy coping tools so you can care for your mental health.
Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?
Our professionally-trained and licensed counselors have openings. Just call our office at 717-462-7003×1 and speak to our administrative assistant to get started to feeling better. You can get the tailored help you need right now. We are here for you.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.