As many countries decide to lift lockdown and coronavirus restrictions, employees prepare to return to their offices and workplaces—some of them for the first time since the pandemic.
Here is some advice from Dr Steven Taylor, a professor in the psychiatry department at the University of British Columbia, in Canada, to cope with your everyday life.
“To help reintegrate people into a post-pandemic world, there needs to be clear communication from leaders, [saying] ‘It’s OK now to hug people. It’s OK to go to restaurants.’
“The guidelines need to be clear in people’s minds and that can help to reduce uncertainty, which will reduce anxiety.”
Some people are describing the emotions they are feeling as symptomatic of agoraphobia, but this isn’t accurate.
“What people are describing as agoraphobia is similar superficially in some ways to agoraphobia, in that they’re frightened of going outside,” says Dr Taylor, “but the motivation is different.”
Typically, people with agoraphobia will avoid certain situations because they are frightened of having a panic attack.
“These people [anxious about life after lockdown] aren’t frightened of having panic attacks. They’re frightened of infection,” says Dr Taylor.
“The good news is people are resilient,” he says. “I expect that most of the people who are anxious right now will recover in the weeks, perhaps months, after lockdown restrictions have been lifted.
“That said, some people will have lingering psychological problems.”
“The spreading and containment of contagion in the case of a pandemic is very much a psychological phenomenon,” he says.
“It’s not just some bug that’s going at random around the world. It’s people’s behaviour that determines whether or not a virus will spread.”