Introverts dread return to normalcy; counselor offers tips to help transition

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — This past year’s stay-at-home orders were grueling for many.

But for others, not so much. Particularly, introverts.

In fact, this group may be dreading the idea of heading back to work and the impending pressure to socialize instead wanting to opt for a good book and a cup of tea. 

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There’s actually a medical term for this. Reentry syndrome was first studied by psychologist Eleanor Rowland in 1913. It’s described as the act of returning to places, organizations or activities after a long absence. It comes with a substantial number of concerns. It can affect psychological well-being, social readjustment and a person’s cultural identity. 

“To learn how to be physically (and socially) around other people is going to be an adjustment,” Kimble Richardson, licensed mental health counselor at Community Health Network, told News 8. “For some of us, we’ve been without physical contact for almost a year, maybe more.”

The way the world stopped wasn’t gradual. It was immediate and jarring accompanied with sudden fears of infection and death. Richardson recommends resurfacing incrementally and uses the example of returning to the office. 

“The first thing you might do is drive to work and sit in the parking lot and just feel what it feels like to be out.” Richardson said. “In the next day or two, maybe you go into the building and walk to your desk if you feel comfortable, but then you leave.”

The path to full reentry may take days or even weeks, he adds, because we’ve been so stricken with fear. But, it’s not just introverts who are feeling this way. It’s everyone. We all had to change our behavior so abruptly and drastically. 

“If you’ve been away from others … give yourself a little grace. A lot of people are saying to themselves, ‘I should be able to do this. What is wrong with me?’ Well, guess what? It’s going to take a minute to feel comfortable again.”


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