NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After a year of shutdowns and isolation, the thought of returning to pre-COVID life may be daunting for some.
"This will have a psychological toll and just like anything some more for some and some more for others," said Medical Director of Hospital Services at Vanderbilt Behavioral Health, Dr. Abhi Saxena. "You may not sleep as well, you may feel anxious, you may feel worried, you may notice that you're wanting to cancel, you're wanting to kind of avoid the situation."
It's referred to as "re-entry anxiety".
Dr. Saxena said while some hesitation is natural, those who are fully vaccinated should take baby steps back to normal.
"We don't want to get too far down that line where coming back out is almost scary or something we don't think we can do any longer."
A recent poll from the American Psychological Association shows nearly half of respondents feel uneasy about returning to in-person interactions.
So what is the line between healthy and unhealthy concerns? "That's a really good question," said Saxena, "I think there really is no one answer to that. I think there's just got to be a wide range of acceptable behavior right now."
That's why he said it's important to be patient with others and encourage positive behaviors.
If you're struggling with re-entry it's ok to take your time and maybe even seek professional help. "It is important to kind of enjoy life again and start doing the things that bring value and meaning and purpose to you because in the long run, that's the only way to be healthy and feel like yourself again," said Saxena.
Some other tips for safely getting back out there include easing your way back in. That can mean setting small goals for yourself like spending time with loved ones outside or dining out.
It's also beneficial in the long run to start those healthy practices sooner rather than later. Think about what you can safely do in the public right now.
If you feel yourself getting anxious focus on your breathing taking slow, deep breaths.