five tips for easing post-pandemic social anxiety

May 10, 2021

It’s natural to feel anxious about returning to “normal” interactions after a year of isolation. Mental health experts have coined this feeling as “reentry anxiety,” and it’s quite common, especially for seniors who feel they’re at risk for contracting COVID-19.

Here are some tips to ease your senior’s anxiety about transitioning back into social situations.

#1 Acknowledge Their Anxiety

Letting your senior loved ones express their discomfort about going out in public allows them to ease their worry. Being an active listener will validate their feelings and let them know their concerns are understood.

It’s also important to know the symptoms of anxiety so you can offer a helping hand if your loved one needs it.

Symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Chest pains
  • Hyperventilation
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness

#2 Go at Their Pace

Ask your loved one what level of social interaction they’re comfortable with and create a plan together. Visiting small groups of family and close friends is a good place to start. Meet in open spaces like parks so they can enjoy in-person interaction at a distance.

And if they’re not ready to meet people face-to-face, scheduling daily phone or video calls is another way to amp up their social interactions.

#3 Encourage Safety

Taking extra health precautions may make your senior loved one feel more in control of their surroundings. Remind them of the simple steps they can take to protect themselves, including:

  • Wearing a mask
  • Avoiding touching their face
  • Frequently washing their hands
  • Disinfecting high-touch surfaces

#4 Help Them Find Ways to Manage Anxiety

People coping with anxiety often fear losing control of their environment and emotions. Finding ways to channel their energy provides a sense of empowerment that can ease an anxious senior’s mind.

Help your loved one find a new hobby or get back into an old one. Fueling their creativity keeps their attention on the things they can control. It’s also a fun way to divert their worry from the endless stream of news about the pandemic.

Meditation is another practice that may help your senior learn to center their mind. It may include yoga, breathing techniques, visualization, listening to soft music, journaling or praying.

#5 Stick to a Routine

Venturing out in public again may be a break from your senior’s usual schedule, which can be stressful. Maintain the rest of their routine as you reintroduce them to social interaction.

Ensure they have breakfast and get dressed at the same time each morning. Allow them time to watch the news if they wish, but don’t let them overwhelm themselves with too much exposure. Create a daily task list, so they have goals to accomplish.

At Embassy Healthcare, we’re committed to working with each resident’s unique needs as we continue to practice safe socialization during the pandemic. Call 216-378-2050 or contact us online for more information.