Why you may feel anxious about returning to ‘normal’
Experts say it’s natural to feel anxious and have a degree of social dysfunction after living through a year of a global pandemic.
“Dealing with long periods of isolation can increase social anxiety,” said Leslie Adams, LCPC, CADC, case therapist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “Even those who would consider themselves naturally more extroverted could be struggling.”
Health anxieties around COVID-19 only exacerbate these feelings.
“The message has been, ‘stay away from people,’” Adams explained. “This goes against our very nature, which is wired to be in community.”
Relying mainly on video calls for socializing has also been a strain.
“We have missed out on subtle forms of communicating in the process of ‘surviving’ the pandemic,” Adams said. These include eye contact, facial cues, and body language, which don’t necessarily come across over video and humans rely on to connect with one another.
Once we’re back to in-person social meetings, experts say it will hit us both mentally and physically.
“Being outside our bubble will feel overwhelming because it is a drastic change,” Adams said. “We will notice all the subtle things that we don’t see or hear on video calls. We will feel like we are struggling, like our senses are on overdrive, because they are.”