As COVID health orders loosen, many have ‘re-entry anxiety’


Psychologists are now calling this phenomenon "re-entry anxiety"

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – At the start of the pandemic, many of us couldn’t wait until the lockdown was over. But now, as the world begins to transition back to normalcy, it’s feeling equally as uncomfortable to go back to the way things were.

Psychologists are now calling this phenomenon “re-entry anxiety.”

“I think people have a right to feel a little bit uncomfortable,” said Dr. Spirtos, a psychiatrist and medical director for outpatient mental health services for Mercy Health Youngstown.

And just as feelings of discomfort surrounded the start of lockdown, coming out of it is causing a similar reaction.

“I think that’s a natural human phenomenon. Just fear of the unknown,” Spirtos said.

Spirtos says there can be two sides to this “re-entry anxiety.” Some people are still afraid of catching or spreading COVID-19, while others are uneasy about re-entering socially.

“With any kind of big transition, there’s going to be discomfort and that, in and of itself, is not a problem. People need to be able to embrace that discomfort, and it’s not something that, in and of itself, is negative to feel that,” Spirtos said.

According to a May 2020 AP poll, 83 percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that re-entry will lead to another surge in coronavirus cases.

Spirtos says that getting enough sleep, exercising, and checking in on yourself and your loved ones will help ease these kinds of worries.

“I think the situation is continuing to evolve and improve, but it is normal to experience some degree of concern and worry and anxiety,” Spirtos said. “You have to pay attention to your thoughts. Your thoughts are powerful, and sometimes they can work against you because your mind is trying to kind of protect yourself from perceived fears.”

And the biggest reminder, Spirtos says, is that you’re not alone. Its been a tough year for everyone.

“Life can be challenging enough without being in the midst of the pandemic. Obviously, that didn’t help anyone’s mental health. We’re getting through it, and I think we’re on a good road.” he said.

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