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It's OK to Be Anxious Now That COVID-19 Lockdowns Are Ending

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I am a creature of habit. I also happen to be Canadian (from Toronto). We have been in COVID-19 lockdown since March 2020. It is now June 2021. Sixteen whole months later and we are still in lockdown. And as much as I miss my friends, going out to restaurants and even walking around aimlessly in a mall, I gotta say… I’m scared to be back in the real world.

The first few months were rough. I’ve previously shared how I was unemployed, the EI cheques were ridiculously low, and the only thing keeping me sane was doing what everyone else was doing: making banana bread.

Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to start a new job that lets me work from home and I’ve gotten into a new routine: I wake up early to exercise with my online group, I eat, I shower, I make my morning tea… it’s a routine. A routine that doesn’t involve driving or commuting to work. A routine that doesn’t involve the uncertainty of traffic jams or unruly weather. A routine that I absolutely do not want to change because I am so comfortable.

I am a creature of habit, as most humans are. And the idea that so many changes are going to be happening so quickly is really starting to stress me out. I wasn’t expecting to be going back into the office until 2022, even though this was an assumption based on nothing but a gut feeling. Yet I still find myself grieving the “loss” of the few months that would be my current routine.

And I can’t believe I’m saying this but: I miss not needing to hang out with friends. I didn’t ever truly realize how exhausting it was to keep in contact with people, especially when they’re different groups. Especially if it feels like you’re always the one who reaches out first. Especially when no hangouts happen unless you organize them and when you don’t, you’re always met with “but why do we never hang out?”

I’m anxious about needing to see people and make small talk again. I’m anxious about the morning train being packed with people. I’m anxious about needing to go back into the office and needing to wear real pants and having to wash my hair. I’m anxious about wanting to go out to bars (bye-bye, money) and I’m anxious about having to put on makeup.

In the grand scheme of things, I know that these aren’t the worst things to happen. I know that “real life” has to resume at some point and I want to be able to hug my friends and celebrate my birthday outside the four walls of my home. In my brain, I knew these things. But the rationality of it doesn’t outweigh my anxieties around this situation.

All of this is to say: it’s OK if you’re anxious. It’s OK if you feel guilty for not wanting to see friends right away. It’s OK to be anxious about drastically shaking up the routine that you’ve been accustomed to over the last year or so.

Unlike some of my other stories on The Mighty, I don’t have any action items or key takeaways this time. I just wanted to share how I’m feeling. I know that I’m not alone in these fears and if you’re feeling this way, I just want you to know: you are not alone. You are valid. I see you. We will get through this together.

Photo by Cris Trung on Unsplash

Originally published: June 21, 2021
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