You Are Not Alone: Dealing with anxiety as things return to 'normal'

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 19:51:56-04

After more than a year of major changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some people are feeling anxiety when it comes to going back to ‘normal.’

Mask mandates are going away, people are returning to the office, social events and public gatherings are back on…all signs that we’re gearing up for a post-pandemic world.

Rob Wesemann, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Utah says, “Oh yeah, anything with this much change over the course of a period of time. I mean, it’s definitely on people’s minds.”

Transitioning back to life once we knew or one now dramatically changed by the pandemic – for many people – leads to anxiety.

Wesemann says anxiety is common. In fact, about 40 million adults in the U.S. experience anxiety issues each year, while half a million adults in Utah are affected.

So how do you tell if you or a loved one are suffering from anxiety? “It’s this persistent, excessive fear and worry in situations that aren’t directly threatening,” says Wesemann.

And this, Wesemann says, can cause emotional and physical symptoms.

Environmental factors can lead to anxiety, like living through some sort of trauma. But Wesemann also says there are genetic factors at play.

“An evaluation by a mental health professional. They can tease out the significance of the trauma, the genetic components, etc., to make sure that we know what we’re dealing with,” says Wesemann.

He also says psychotherapy can be very effective and that medication and certain lifestyle changes can also help.

“Things like yoga, meditation. I think sometimes we think oh, what can we really do, but they really help us think differently about the situations that we may find ourselves in,” says Wesemann.

If you think someone you know is experiencing this, start the conversation.

“Reach out and just ask how they’re doing. And have them tell you what their experience has been, etcetera, because that can begin that process.”

And remember…you are not alone.