I am one of the people feeling really anxious about opening up. The numbers in Pickering are terrific, we only one new case in all of Durham today, but I think it will take me a bit of time.
This was one of the comments we received when we reached out to our audience asking how they’re feeling about the easing of lockdown restrictions. After three months of quarantine, Ontario has entered Stage 2 of reopening, allowing many restaurants, salons, shopping centres, and several other businesses to reopen their doors. This shift has left society with mixed emotions; while many are eager and excited to return to their former pre-Covid lifestyles, there is also fear and anxiety as new cases continue to surface.
Results from a recent poll we published show that 80% of our audience is feeling anxious/unsure about the recent easing of lockdown restrictions since entering Stage 2.
As humans, any sudden change in routine can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. For individuals who experience anxiety or introverted tendencies, leaving the house can already be a difficult decision. We have become accustomed to a new quarantine lifestyle over the past few months and become comfortable “staying home”. Now, with the economy reopening and given the permission to expand our social circles, many of us might be experiencing inner turmoil about how to respond.
Returning to work. Whether you were working from home or off work completely the past few months, the return to work is a huge adjustment to your daily routine. Public transportation, exposure to co-workers/customers, and being away from family are just a few changes that we may have to become re-accustomed to, and this can feel sudden and overwhelming. Continue to practice safety guidelines (i.e. wearing a mask when taking public transportation) and be aware of yourself and your surroundings – if you start to feel sick or suspect someone else is sick, get tested immediately. Additionally, if you feel at all unsafe in your workplace, it’s important to speak up and have the issue addressed as soon as possible.
Saying no to plans. For those of us who are not quite ready to expand our social groups yet or venture into public places again, it can be an uncomfortable task to say no to plans. You may be worried about offending someone by denying their invitation, or fear that they may not ask to see you again. To help manage some of this anxiety, it can be helpful to practice how you will respond to these invitations. Assure the person that you are simply not at a place where you are ready to participate, but that you will let them know once you are. Most likely, they will understand and appreciate your honesty. When you do eventually feel ready, ease into it. Establish a plan beforehand that you both agree and feel comfortable with, and consider doing something outside where there is lower risk for transmission.
Experiencing rejection. Conversely, it can be extremely challenging to accept that your friends and family may not want to interact with you right now. You might be ready to see them but they are not ready to see you, and it can be difficult to not take this personally. Understand that this has nothing to do with you, they simply aren’t feeling ready to start socializing yet. It’s also important to know that this does not make you a bad person for wanting to socialize – as long as you are following the safety measures, it’s okay to be on different pages of readiness. Let them know that you understand their decision, and when they’re feeling up to it, they can reach out to you.
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