New York is very close to entering Phase III of reopening. With Phase II allowing restaurants and bars to cater to crowded sidewalks and patios, the next phase is bound to be more and more welcoming of outdoor activities—naturally bringing about “reopening anxiety.”
For those of us who quarantined in New York, and saw the thick of it, it has been harder to adjust to going back to life as we knew it. Being cooped up for months on end, it feels like reentering society comes with a whole new set of stress: what happens if we let loose? Will we lose the moment we worked so hard to arrive at? Is wearing masks and being extra cautious a thing of the past? The answers are varied.
Here is the reality of the situation: the pandemic is not over, and while New York is enjoying some lax-er rules, it does not mean that this is an open call to completely ignore all precautions. We still have to wear our masks, not congregate in big groups, practice hygienic habits, and social distance.
If you’re experiencing reopening anxiety, here are some things you can do to ease your stress:
Focusing on the facts helps you make informed decisions as you try to resume normal activities. Make sure you’re getting your information from trusted sources and stay up to date on developments.
Stay up-to-date on your safety measures.
We know that having spent four months in quarantining can literally make you an expert, but as we re-enter society, let’s try to stay aware of what we can do on our end to make sure we avoid a surge. There are new protocols that have been announced and implemented in order to prevent infection, including enhanced cleaning/disinfecting, PPEs, and other procedures.
Don’t start ditching prevention routines.
As tempting as it is to walk around without a mask, please keep wearing your masks in public especially if you are interacting with people. And don’t stop washing your groceries.
Follow your instincts.
Just because your community is reopening and your friends are now out all the time doesn’t mean you’ll feel ready to do so. FOMO is real, but so is a pandemic, so make decisions based on how you feel and based on the facts.
Take an incremental approach.
This approach involves easing yourself in, increasing exposure slowly and facing your fears little by little so your anxiety levels decrease over time. Start by taking short walks, interacting with one or two people at a time, and eventually you may be able to expand that slowly and safely while avoiding anxiety attacks.