As COVID-19 vaccinations continue and cities and states move toward full re-opening, many people are feeling re-entry anxiety—an uneasiness about returning to the old normal of schools and offices, hugs and handshakes, and social gatherings large and small.
Adam Mandel, PhD, psychologist at NYU Langone Psychiatry Associates and clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry, says hesitating to take off the mask is perfectly normal. “After all, we’ve been trained to fear the virus. And fear isn’t something that easily goes away,” he says.
“Just as we got used to the masks, we’ll adjust to life without them. I wasn’t this worried about walking outside without a mask a year and a half ago; the vast majority of us will be resilient. The vast majority of us will learn to feel comfortable again. But it’s going to take a little time,” he continues.
There’s no right or wrong way to handle re-entry, but Dr. Mandel offers some advice: communicate your needs, go at your own pace, and think of the changes as a way to build resilience.
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