Re-entry anxiety is a symptom we are either experiencing or hearing about from others as we begin our transition back to our workplaces full-time. Two years ago we were longing to get back to normal and the lives were we accustomed to. But now as things start getting back to our pre-pandemic lives, many of us are having difficulty re-integrating and interacting again with the outside world. Living within our small little bubbles for so long has some of us stressing about having to commute on a crowded train or being invited to a birthday party. Post COVID anxiety or re-entry syndrome is real and many who have had no mental health issues in the past are now experiencing a range of anxiety from uneasiness to full blown agoraphobia. Re-entry is not recovery but another layer of stress for many.
The first few months of the pandemic were intense with “stay at home” orders or “stay safe” messaging blasting at us from all sides. Looking back at all we have endured over the last two years, one can begin to understand how the impact of accumulated stress has our nervous systems still activated. Psychologically, we were in survival mode. In my book, Our Breaking Point, How COVID Has Us Exhausted, Irritable and Overwhelmed, I write about the events in 2020 and into 2021, as well as the collective anxiety we experienced resulting in mental health crises around the world.
The demands on specific professions and the allocation of services to emergency COVID responses has health professionals burned out. Not only from long shifts and continuous overtime but from the verbal abuse and harassment they face from patients, social media or protestors standing outside the hospital buildings. Mental health professionals and clinical psychiatrists are also struggling with exhaustion, stating “we are doing all we can”. Waiting lists for supports are at an all-time high.
We also may be experiencing a delayed trauma response and still processing the last two years. The year 2020 put us all into isolation for several months which can have long-term consequences on our mental health. Now with the world re-opening, one begins to wonder, have we really had a chance to deal with all that has happened?
#post pandemic trauma