As the world begins reopening and many people begin to venture out, we might expect the anxiety that affected many of us at the start of the coronavirus pandemic would begin to lift.
Not so fast.
Howard Reznick, Manager, Prevention Education at Jewish Community Services (JCS), explains that as we are moving from a mindset of hunkering down to a “Come out, come out from wherever you are (hiding)” mentality, we are all faced with recalibrating our thinking, even individuals without high risk physical health concerns. We’ve all experienced how stressful life can be when you are vulnerable to a serious illness.
“Our brains typically work on automatic pilot,” he says. “It was so taxing emotionally and cognitively; thinking through all the accommodations we needed to make to shelter-in-place. Now, after we settled in and figured it all out, we are asked to adapt – again – to a new, and ever-changing situation. Many are feeling emotionally exhausted.”
At the same time, we are dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing if our new lives are sustainable… a recognition that we do not know how and when this “new normal” will shift or end.
“Stress increases when we don’t have clear expectations. It is creating frayed nerves and we are beginning to see it taking a toll on people,” says Dr. Ruth Klein, Director, Mental Health and Compliance at JCS.
Add to that the numerous additional stresses we are encountering, including job insecurity, safety fears about returning to work and interpersonal concerns.
For example, say Reznick and Klein, anxiety is playing out interpersonally among family members and friends in ways that they never have before. There are family members worried about seeing relatives who have not been as strict in observing social distancing guidelines. In our social circles, friends may be facing widely divergent concerns, from financial difficulties to health issues, due to the pandemic.