Post-Lockdown Anxiety Poses Problems
As provinces around Canada are rushing to re-open and lift as many restrictions as possible, some citizens are feeling apprehensive about finally being able to venture out. What once seemed like easy tasks, such as going into a coffee shop and ordering a beverage, can now be quite daunting for some. This, according to experts like Samantha Yammine, or Science Sam as she is known on social media, is to be expected after 16 months of social isolation.
Our brains have been on high alert for stresses and fear, which is why scientists believe millions of people may be feeling anxious about returning to regular life. It’s just like carving a path through a field. If you cross it the same way every day, it slowly starts to show. If you stop taking that path, the grass will eventually grow back.
Different Coping Mechanisms Work For Different People
According to Yammine, we should all try to establish coping mechanisms that work for us as we try to adjust back to regular life. Our brains do a lot of context-dependent learning, which is why it is important to bring something safe into a situation, as it will make it easier for you to adjust. For example, if you are apprehensive about entering a coffee shop, call a friend while you’re there. Their familiar voice will bring you some comfort.
If we ignore these anxieties, they could circuit around our brains and go into overdrive. Once a pattern like this starts, it can be difficult to overcome. Over the last 16 months, our brains have formed associations that link social distancing and wearing masks to public safety. Anything that differs from this is bound to cause some uncertainty.
Provinces Open Up At Different Paces
Ontario officially entered the second step of its reopening plan on Wednesday. According to this phase, indoor gatherings of up to five people are permitted and certain retail and religious services may operate with limitations placed on capacity. However, other provinces are reopening with far less cautious approaches. For example, Alberta just lifted its province-wide mask mandate and is now allowing bars, restaurants and retail services to operate at full capacity.
New fears surrounding the highly transmissible Delta variant could be adding fuel to the fire for those suffering from re-opening anxiety. This could be particularly true in areas where vaccine rollouts have been slower.