Fears and anxieties associated with easing back into “normal”

Many Americans fear that states may be lifting coronavirus-related restrictions too quickly (Pew Research Center, 2020). There are so many unknowns associated with what our “new normal” may look like. If I go out to eat, will I be exposed to the virus? If I return to work, will my chances of getting the virus increase? If I do not return to work, will I be able to afford my monthly expenses? If my child returns to school, will he or she be safe? These are just a few questions running through most Americans minds during this time of transition.

Fear is a normal emotion to experience during uncertain times. Although the word fear can bring about unpleasant thoughts, fear can also be viewed in a positive light. A healthy dose of fear may protect you from potential dangers.

Sometimes it is difficult to know what unhealthy fear looks like. Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • Do I feel panic or dread prior to engaging in public activities?
  • Am I calling in sick because I am afraid to go to work?
  • Am I having a difficult time focusing on the here and now?
  • Have my sleeping patterns changed?
  • Am I sleeping too much or too little?
  • Do I obsess over contracting COVID-19?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, please know that there are things that you can do to help alleviate some of these unpleasant symptoms of anxiety.

Tips for easing anxiety

  • Accept your feelings and acknowledge that it is okay to be fearful.
  • Always look for the silver lining.
  • Reach out to others for support and guidance, just talking things through with a trusted friend may ease some of the negative feelings you are experiencing.
  • Remind yourself to be thankful for the little things and find creative ways to express your gratitude to others.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise releases chemicals that improve mood and can reduce symptoms of anxiety.
  • Focus your energy on positive things in your life that you can control.
  • Be gentle with yourself and remember that this is a “new normal” for everyone. We are in this together.

If you or a family member are struggling with feelings of hopelessness, depression or anxiety, UofL Health – Peace Hospital’s Assessment and Referral Center offers no-charge assessments at 502-451-3333 or 800-451-3637.

Or contact the 24-Hour Crisis and Information Center Line at 502-589-4313 or 800-221-0446.

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Lisa Prewitt

Lisa Prewitt is the lead behavioral health outreach coordinator at UofL Health – Peace Hospital. She holds a master’s degree in counseling and personnel services from the University of Louisville. Lisa has over 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. She is also a Certified Grief Recovery Method Specialist. Lisa has been with Peace Hospital since 2012

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