When It Comes to Post-Pandemic Anxiety, Try to R.E.S.T.
As news of vaccines and herd immunity continues to gain speed in reality, it could be safe to say that our lives may be returning to "normal" at some point in 2021. That being said, many people are experiencing an increase in distress and anxiety about this, more so than feeling reassured or relieved. The looming uncertainty of when "back to normal" will be, and what that will look like, are leading some individuals to worry more frequently, and to experience the negative emotions and behaviors that accompany these thoughts about the future.
For example, some may be worrying about having to commute back into the office, and about being around other people on the bus/train/subway, not knowing if others have had the vaccine. Others are concerned that they have gotten used to living a more solitary lifestyle during the past year, and about how exhausting it will be to go back to life outside the house. In addition, many have gotten used to having their spouse working from home all the time, and feel distressed about what they will do without that support moving forward.
Anxiety about post-pandemic life, and going back to "normal," is a real thing felt by many. So for anyone who is feeling increased anxiety stemming from worries about what the future will look like, now might be a good time to prepare some strategies to foster a less stressful transition when the time comes. Instead of spending time stressing, try the R.E.S.T. technique. R.E.S.T. stands for Relax, Evaluate, Set an intention, and Take action, and is an evidence-based strategy for distress tolerance.
Relax: The first step is to pause and take a deep breath. Put some space between your thought and your next action, to prevent you from doing something impulsive. Use your five senses to ground yourself, a breathing exercise, or try a positive visualization. Relaxation helps the brain release calming chemicals versus ones that will increase our experience of distress.