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  • Writer's pictureAdam O'Neill

As quarantine ends: why do I feel anxious?

Updated: Aug 3, 2023


As quarantine ends: why do I feel anxious?

Americans all over the country find themselves cautiously emerging from the quarantine caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. For many, the freedom to leave their houses, return to work, or even the simple luxury of getting a haircut are a source of great joy. Others, and probably more than we think, find themselves feeling uneasy and even anxious about what this transition will look like.


Humans are amazing at adapting to new circumstances; this virus has been evidence of that. While uncomfortable at first, routines were formed and a new normal began. Some may have found their home office more conducive to work than the distractions provided by their cubical (and colleagues) at work, others saw their relationships with their family flourish as dinner around a common table once again became the norm. Some may have taken up reading or rediscovered a passion for baking. For these individuals, returning to “life as usual” presents a tangible threat to the comfort we created during crisis. I want to reassure you, what you are experiencing is normal and the tension or anxiety present will pass. Just as a new normal was established under lockdown, a new normal will begin to take shape in the release of stay-at-home orders.


What we might fight against, instead of the anxiety (which generally only makes it grow), is the loss of the things we learned and found valuable during our quarantine. The closer relationship to our children, parents, spouse, roommates, the hobby or skill we began pursuing, the necessity of making to-do lists or schedules among many other valuable changes we saw during this time should be continued. Fight to make them a part of our post-COVID life.


We might also look with hopeful expectation at what freedom from quarantine will bring. Anxiety loves to catastrophize which means it will find the worst possible scenario and present it to you as the most likely outcome. More positive experiences are equally if not more likely. New job opportunities, relationships, friend groups are likely to present themselves as we emerge from quarantine. Instead of feeling pressured to seek them out (which may lead to more anxiety) keep an open mind and be watchful for what new opportunities present themselves in the coming months.


As we adjust to life in public and become more comfortable with what that looks like we may find ourselves feeling regret. As COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past we may feel tempted to look back on decisions we made, time we feel we lost, opportunities we wish we would have followed up on when we had the time. Resist the temptation to view the past as “lost time”. Instead, remember that even negative experiences serve as tools for learning and growing, they mold and shape us into more mature individuals.


Finally, we might remember to ask how those around us are doing (and really mean it). The person who seems like they have it all together may be struggling (maybe that person is you). Just because ending quarantine is a good thing doesn’t mean it isn’t a difficult transition. Anxiety during this time is common. Be kind to yourself and others and we will get through this together.

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