Re entry anxiety | How to cope with the world opening up again

how to deal with re entry anxiety

It’s been a busy few weeks for me. Lots of coaching and book-related stuff happening (working up to my next book which is on its way in August). I was also volunteering at various Brighton Dome/Brighton Festival-related things, plus visiting a few festival events and generally participating in the world as it unfolds its wings again. Things which used to be normal, but which were off the menu for a year, including driving at night and being in a room full of strangers, have become part of my life again.

I’ve found it all pretty exhausting, and my sleep, which had been great for ages, became fitful again. I started hearing the milkman doing his 4am delivery, which is never a good sign unless you’re in the milk trade too.

Busy or just moving slightly faster?

However, I had to admit as I looked at my diary, it’s not as if I’m that busy. It’s nothing like the juggle that life was when I had two small children, for example.

It’s just that life has been so empty for so long that the contrast is noticable. A field that’s lain fallow for a year and suddenly gets invaded by half a dozen sheep is inevitably going to feel like more of a party than it did before. Though really, it’s just a few sheep.

The contrast is why things that wouldn’t have been such a big deal 18 months ago, now start to feel like a much bigger jolt to our systems. So being in a room with 120 strangers, as I was on Tuesday this week, and then feeling totally wired as a result, shouldn’t be surprising.

re entry anxiety how to cope with the world opening up again

There is a phrase for this – re entry anxiety. It’s a real thing; people all around the world are experiencing it and if that’s you then we are both alone and together in this.

How to deal with re entry anxiety

  • Forget any notion of getting back to normal
    That isn’t happening. Life doesn’t run backwards; it moves forwards. Things that you did before may be happening again but you are not the same. I find it’s quite freeing to let go of expectations that anything will be the same as it was before. Of course it won’t. You have changed and so has the world, but it’s OK, you can deal with it.
  • Prioritise basic self care
    I’m not talking about the fancy stuff. You don’t need a spa break. Lots of water, early nights, decent food and good books will see you right.
  • Recognise that re entry anxiety can be helpful
    A certain amount of anxiety can be useful in keeping us safe in dangerous situations. So in this situation our re entry anxiety reminds us that we’re not out of this yet. We still need to keep washing our hands, be careful, wear masks and all that palaver.
  • Expand your comfort zone gradually
    There’s no rule that says you have to go to the pub just because they’re open. But neither do you have to stay at home quite so much any more. If you’re experiencing sensory overoad, aim to do one new thing, or go into one new situation, per week. I’m going to the cinema on Saturday, can’t wait!
  • Practice gratitude
    We all have so much to be thankful for right now, from the people who have worked so hard to keep us safe to the fact that life has persisted. From talking to people about self care when my book Change Your Life in 5 Minutes a Day came out, a daily gratitude practice was the one thing that emerged time and time again as being the most effective way to feel more positive. So I’ve doubled down on my gratitude practice. I already think of 3 things I’m grateful for every night before I go to sleep. Now, when I’m in the shower in the morning I think about 3 things I’m grateful for in the upcoming day. If you add in a positive habit to something you already do (like showering or getting into bed at night) then it’s easy to make it stick.

How are you getting on right now? Are you experiencing re entry anxiety? How are you dealing with it? Leave a comment here or send me a message and let’s talk about it

Further reading: Three easy ways to feel positive today