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As COVID restrictions end, some face pandemic re-entry anxiety

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As more people are vaccinated and mask mandates end, mental health is once again taking a hit. The American Psychological Association said half of adults are having pandemic re-entry anxiety.

“I got the Pfizer,” said Elizabeth Ball, who lives in Indianapolis. Ball is fully vaccinated and ready to see friends. “I think we got vaccines for a reason. So, I am not really anxious.”

Other people are feeling re-entry anxiety. For Joyce Almeida in Indianapolis, reintegrating into society is not as simple.

“If I see a large gathering not wearing masks, I try to stay away for my own peace of mind,” said Almeida.

Almeida is fully vaccinated. Despite CDC guidelines saying it’s safe for vaccinated people to remove their masks in most situations, Almeida said she wants COVID-19 safety measures to stay.

“We were too quick to try and remove everything, like the masks,” said Almeida.

So, what now?

“Do what makes you feel comfortable,” said David Berman 

Berman is the vice president of Mental Health America of Indiana and said some people are struggling with anything post-pandemic.

“Fifty percent approximately, according to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association, of adults have anxiety about reintegrating. And we are all are in it together, but we are all navigating it once again at our own pace,” said Berman.

Mental health experts suggest people communicate before they socialize. If people are uncomfortable, don’t be self critical or stress out. Berman said people should take their time with small steps, such as seeing people outdoors, being patient and setting clear boundaries.

“Communicate that and the people that love and care about us, it is not going to make a difference one way or the other,” said Berman

Finally, when people are back to socializing, they shouldn’t let peer pressure take over.

“Stick to what it is you are feeling and don’t let that social external influence change what is best for you. Because that is just going to further exacerbate the anxiety you are already feeling,” said Berman. 

For many people, that new normal looks different, and that’s okay. 

“Going back to normal, I don’t think it’s going to come anytime soon,” said Almeida.

“We got vaccinated, I think, for a reason. So, let’s get back to normal,” said Ball.

Mental health experts said whether people face re-entry anxiety or not, they should keep in mind how their actions might impact people around them and remain empathetic.