Diana J. Smith

Los Angeles, Jan. 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As the pandemic lock-down restrictions are eased and regions all across the country re-open, there will be many people feeling re-entry anxiety, the fear of re-entering society. After nearly a year of on-again, off-again lock-downs; dramatically rising infection rates and a mounting death toll, the anxiety of returning to any degree of normalcy, or at least what we once considered “normal,” may be too many for some to handle.

Dr. Michele Nealon, a licensed clinical psychologist and president of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, says those feelings of anxiety are natural and there are ways we can cope. 

“COVID-19 changed our lives – perhaps forever,” said Dr. Nealon. “It changed the way we work; it changed the way we played. It changed the way we live. Now after months of being told to stay inside to change the outcome of a dire situation, we’re being told that places are re-opening, even though the pandemic is still clearly a threat. For many, that will be confusing and it will cause anxiety – no matter the level of openness a region is implementing. Those feelings are perfectly normal.”

Dr. Nealon recommends the following 10 steps to help manage re-entry anxiety.

Acknowledge your feelings. Admit that your feelings are real and that it’s okay to feel the way you do. Ignoring them only makes them worse.

Go at your own pace. Introduce new things slowly, or at a rate that you feel the most comfortable. Introducing things gradually is the preferred approach to managing anxiety.

Focus on what you can control. Recognizing and focusing on what you can control in uncertain times can be helpful in overcoming anxiety.

Establish a routine and stick to it. Routine and structure offer comfort during uncertainty.

Practice being in the present moment. The act of mindfulness, bringing non-judgmental attention to, and awareness of, the present moment, can help reduce symptoms.

Stay informed. Stay updated on your community virus threat level and react appropriately.

Schedule a “worry period.” Regularly scheduling 20 to 30 minutes a day to reflect on your worries, and postponing worries that occur earlier to the worry period, can help ease anxiety.

Practice gratitude. Writing down or saying aloud the things you’re grateful for can offer a different perspective.

Engage in fulfilling activities. Doing something you find fulfilling, even for just a few minutes a day, can help improve your emotional health.

Stay connected. Staying socially connected, even virtually, helps protect our mental health.

The information presented here should not be used in lieu of consultation with a mental health professional or medical provider. It is for informational purposes only. Find more on mental and behavioral health topics here.


About The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Integrating theory with hands-on experience, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology provides education rooted in a commitment to innovation, service, and community for thousands of diverse students across the United States and globally. Founded in 1979, the nonprofit, regionally accredited university now features campuses in iconic locations across the country (Chicago, Southern California, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Dallas) and online. To spark positive change in the world where it matters most, The Chicago School has continued to expand its educational offerings beyond the field of psychology to offer more than 20 degrees and certificates in the professional fields of health services, nursing, education, counseling, business, and more. Through its engaged professional model of education, commitment to diversity and inclusion, and an extensive network of domestic and international professional partnerships, The Chicago School’s students receive real-world training opportunities that reflect their future careers. The Chicago School is also a proud affiliate of  TCS, a nonprofit system of colleges advancing student success and community impact. To learn more, visit  www.thechicagoschool.edu.

Lisa Riley The Chicago School of Professional Psychology 312.646.9130 [email protected]

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