Coping with Reopening Anxiety… ( kind of)

Teignmouth, Devon, England

I’ve had a very fortunate lockdown and I’m very grateful, because I live surrounded by beautiful countryside, I enjoy the company of the people I live with, I’ve been able to go out for walks with friends and I’ve been working on my novel. So I’ve been busy, engaged and even enjoyed zoom quizzes, poetry readings and catch ups with friends and family. Don’t judge me!

Of course I’ve had worries and concerns, one of the biggest being my 91 year old Dad but he’s been keeping himself busy and my brother and I have managed to visit him and deliver “red cross parcels” and sort out his ipad…again.

I know a lot of people have struggled and my heart goes out to them. So when one of my closest friends invited me to go away to a house in Devon overlooking the water, to help celebrate her birthday with a small group of friends, I should have been delighted. And I was. Then I panicked. Not so much about Covid,as we had all been double jabbed and had all agreed to take a test in the morning before travelling, but about seeing people, mixing with people and having to interact with them.

It was great, but exhausting. It was wonderful to be with friends and to see the sea, play games and go sightseeing. The issue that freaked me out was having to deal with other people’s energy, baggage and agendas. It’s as though over the past eighteen months I’ve become even more of an introvert than normal and need even longer to recharge my batteries and do my ‘reset’.

I thought it was just me. But when I spoke to others, when I was away and since then, and a lot of people seem to be having similar concerns. My daughter informed me there is a name for it, reopening anxiety. There is also a web page dedicated to it on the NHS website.

So they great news is… we are not alone! I guess we now need to negotiate how we greet people (do we give them a hug or a kiss?), decide whether to wear masks or not (personally, I will be in public places) and do a risk reward assessment of every social event. I’m happy going to an art gallery or museum (I can’t believe how much I’ve missed that), but will avoid a raucous pub watching the football (soccer). That doesn’t stop me watching it on TV with a couple of similar footie nuts though.

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