Cartoon image of a group of people wearing masks
date11th November 2021

How to cope with re-entry anxiety

Re-entry anxiety is a normal and valid response to change and uncertainty. 

As lockdown restrictions look set to ease in Tāmaki Makaurau and the Waikato, it’s natural to feel uncertain or anxious about what the new ‘new normal’ will look like. You may be feeling worried or uneasy about what the relaxing of restrictions will bring, or maybe you’ve adjusted to your new routine and don’t feel ready for change.

For some of us, amidst the uncertainty and anxiety, there may also be mixed emotions such as excitement which can make it confusing to know how to proceed.    

These are all common and normal responses. So much so that it’s been coined ‘COVID-19 Re-Entry Anxiety’. Even if you’ve experienced re-entry anxiety earlier during this pandemic, your experience of re-entry anxiety may be different this time around if the COVID-19 situation, your own personal circumstances or levels of anxiety about COVID-19 have changed.  

Here are some suggestions to help you cope.  

Acknowledge what you’re feeling: It is possible to feel both excited and scared about the future, especially when we don’t have absolute certainty about what will happen. This is totally normal and it’s important not to judge yourself or feel embarrassed for feeling like this. It is okay to feel differently to family and friends about the easing of lockdown restrictions.  

Accept that things have changed quite a bit during the pandemic, and will likely be different for the foreseeable future. Remind yourself of how you’ve adjusted already to the range of changes since the pandemic started, and what helped you to adapt.  

Use assertive communication: It can help you to have open discussions with others about how you feel and what you are (and aren’t) prepared to do at any given point in time. If you are invited to do something, and aren’t ready for it right now yet might be open to considering it later, explain this and ask them to invite you again later down the track or let them know you will initiate when you’re ready.  

Proceed with caution: Continue to follow the necessary precautions as you make changes to your routine. If you have a health condition or are more vulnerable to COVID-19 for other reasons, it’s important to consult your GP for guidance on how to navigate going forward, including discussing a plan with any additional or necessary precautions to take. 

Seek support: It’s normal to feel anxiety about things opening up again, but if your anxiety is overwhelming or getting in the way of your life, it’s important to seek professional help. Speak to your GP if you’re unsure of where to start.

You could also take a look at our dedicated Staying on Track course for strategies on navigating challenging situations.  

*This blog is an adaptation of the original post by our colleagues at This Way Up