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Life after the pandemic: Reentry anxiety

Mental health experts weigh in on navigating post-pandemic life.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — With more people getting their COVID-19 vaccines and state restrictions, easing post-pandemic life is getting closer to reality than we think.

But for some, the whole idea of jumping right back into things is giving some anxiety. It's something mental health professionals are really paying close attention to.

But there are ways to navigate it all.

One term for it all is called "reentry anxiety." Others refer to it as FOGO, a fear of going out. 

After a year of lockdown, health experts say these feelings are pretty normal. 

With COVID cases falling in the US, a lot of us are anxious to start traveling again. But flying the friendly skies can also bring anxiety. So how can you ease those concerns? Let's connect the dots.

A pandemic weary public has made it clear what they want to do next—travel. But for some, the idea of getting on a crowded plane and staying in strange hotels is a little overwhelming after all we've been through. 

Mental health professionals even have a name for it: "reentry anxiety." They report both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients are expressing concerns about returning to in-person activities.

So what can you do about it? 

First things first, if you have extreme anxiety, contact a medical professional. But if you are simply worried or feeling unease, there are some things you can try. 

Experts recommend exposure therapy, which allows you to ease back into situations. The key to this is to start off slowly.

That means if you are worried about restaurants in a strange city, try going out to one in your hometown that you are comfortable with. If a long plane ride is an issue, try a shorter trip first. If a big hotel with a crowded lobby is your concern, you can book an Airbnb. 

Experts also recommend accepting that you will feel anxious. Just acknowledging that it is expected and normal can bring comfort.