NEW Free Virtual Workshop How to Cope with Re-Entry Stress

With Covid vaccinations steadily increasing and a four-stage reopening plan in place, many Vermonters are seeing light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. At the same time, many of us are trading one sort of pandemic stress for another: re-entry anxiety.

The re-entry phase juxtaposes the hopefulness of restrictions ending with, well, the anxiety of restrictions ending. For some, it’s as if we’re crawling out of a dark basement we’ve been hiding out in for a year, squinting at the light ahead. Maybe we haven’t seen friends or family in months. Or we’ve been working remotely at home. Maybe we haven’t been to our favorite restaurant for a year or can’t remember what it’s like to dance to live music. Now, as the gates open and we’re freer to roam, it may feel overwhelming.

Re-Entry Stress Can Exacerbate Existing Anxiety and Depression 

Re-entry anxiety is real, says COVID Support VT clinical supervisor Cath Burns, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist practicing in Vermont. Burns is also the quality director for Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of 16 non-profit community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services and supports across the state. She says she’s been hearing a lot about it from the children and adults she counsels. “It’s certainly something people are struggling with,” Burns told Seven Days in a recent article on the subject.

COVID Support VT is offering a new free workshop to help people understand and cope with re-entry anxiety. Join the discussion May 3.

Sign up here.

This is especially true, Burns says, for people who already struggled with anxiety or depression pre-Covid. “One person said to me that the pandemic has been like fuel for his anxiety and his depressive disorder,” she recalled to Seven Days. “So for people who already struggle with social anxiety, I think it will be harder … because it was already hard.”

For COVID Support VT, Burns facilitates online workshops on topics such as compassion fatigue and developing healthy coping skills. The feedback from participants has changed in recent weeks, as re-entry anxieties heighten. Burns talked to Seven Days reporter Dan Bolles about it for the April 7-14 issue.

Helping People Develop Healthy Coping Strategies for Re-Entry Anxiety

“What I’ve been hearing in the workshops is stress about ‘How do I go back to my job? I’ve been home 100 percent of the time, and now I’ve gotta go back,'” Burns told Bolles. “‘I haven’t been working with other people, and I’m out of practice. I’ve developed this pattern, and now I’ve gotta go back, or forward, to this new life.'” 

These are common concerns that many Vermonters may recognize. Burns’ advice?

“The first thing I tell people is to follow the rules,” Burns said. “Follow the guidance and do what the people who know about this disease are telling us to do. That’s just smart.” 

~ Cath Burns, Ph.D., as interviewed by Dan Bolles for “All Together Now” (Seven Days, April 7-14, 2021)

“When you’re starting to run, you don’t start by going five miles,” Burns added. “You start with a lap around the track. So start with people you trust, doing something you love — ideally outside — for a short period of time, and then build up. 

“Follow the rules, start small and do something you like,” Burns repeated. 

Join May 3 Workshop to Learn How to Cope with Covid Stress

If you’re experiencing re-entry anxiety, know that you’re not alone. COVID Support VT is here to help. Join our May 3 workshop on coping with anxiety around re-opening plans. Other ways to get support include speaking one-on-one to a trained counselor, joining wellness workshops and Town Halls online. Find the right resources to fit your needs at www.covidsupportvt.org.

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Need to talk? 

Call 2-1-1 (option #2) or 866-652-4636 (option #2) for free, confidential, one-on-one counseling. Our Support Counselors are available Monday – Friday. 

In crisis? 

If you or someone you care for is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you can: call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-825;  text VT to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7; connect with your local community mental health agency for 24/7 support 

Find Help

Find resources and tools for coping with stress at www.COVIDSupportVT.org. Follow COVID Support VT on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And, to stay up-to-date, sign up for our newsletter and blog.

Learn about upcoming Wellness Workshops from COVID Support VT, and Town Halls we’re hosting in partnership with community organizations.

One-click translation to 100 languages of everything on the COVIDSupportVT.org website, plus Multilingual Resources & downloadable materials in 10 languages common to Vermont’s New American immigrant and refugee communities. 

COVID Support VT is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, managed by Vermont’s Departments of Emergency Management and Mental Health, and administered by Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of 16 non-profit community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services and supports. 

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