Coping Tips from COVID Support VT Featured in Burlington Free Press

With Covid restrictions lifting throughout Vermont, re-entry is on everyone’s minds. For many of us, re-engagement brings mixed emotions. Maybe we’re looking forward to getting back to the workplace, but concerned about staying safe. We may feel excited to be seeing friends again, but nervous that long-anticipated visits will be awkward. Ambiguities around masking and vaccination unknowns can cause stress. 

In short, being out in the world again can be both exhilarating and exhausting. How does a pandemic-weary Vermonter cope with re-entry stressors? 

Burlington Free Press reporter Elizabeth Murray recently interviewed COVID Support VT’s clinical supervisor, Cath Burns, Ph.D., about these issues. Burns is a clinical psychologist who also serves as quality director for Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services and supports. 

Burns cautioned that people should not avoid the transition just because it’s difficult and stressful. She recommended that people who are anxious about lifting restrictions should start small with people they trust and work their way up to feeling comfortable about going out into public again without precautions.

Burlington Free Press, June 8, 2021 (Paywall protected)

Managing Re-Entry Anxiety

Burns offered a number of recommendations for coping with re-entry anxiety: 

  • See the positives. Be optimistic that restrictions being lifted means that people can get back to the activities they enjoy.  
  • Focus on things you can control. 
  • Use self-care and mindfulness to manage anxiety. 
  • Set boundaries. 
  • Re-engage at a pace you can handle, but don’t avoid the issue. 
  • Communicate your needs, and advocate for yourself if necessary. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable going back to the office yet, express this to your supervisors to better understand the possibilities for a gradual return. 
  • Don’t over-consume media about the virus or pandemic, and be sure to receive information from credible sources. 
  • Seek support from a trusted friend or family member or a mental health professional if needed.

Read the full article in Burlington Free Press (paywall protected).

Read more about re-entry anxiety and how to cope with it in our Guest Blog from COVID Support VT counselor Alex Karambelas.

Register for our bi-weekly support and discussion group focused on managing re-entry stress.

The New Normal Need Not Look Like the Old Normal

Returning to the way things were before COVID-19 may be unlikely, Burns told the Free Press. Pandemic-related loss and changes can co-mingle with new knowledge and insights about ourselves. 

“None of us wanted a pandemic,” Burns said. However, she added, “You could jump back into your old life and make it be exactly how it was, but this is an opportunity to think about whether you want it to be that way. Maybe you want it to be different.”

~ Burlington Free Press, June 8, 2021 (paywall protected)

Read more of Burns’ tips for building back better in The Big Covid Re-Set: Moving from Loss to Opportunity.

Free Virtual Workshops Aim to Ease Re-Entry Stress

Burns and her team of COVID Support VT counselors offer weekly wellness workshops designed to bolster mental well-being and healthy coping. These offerings are free, online, and open to everyone.

Coping with Covid: Managing Re-Entry Anxiety meets June 29, July 13 and July 27 at 11:30 a.m.

Covid Recovery: Wellness through Gratitude meets June 29, July 13 and July 27 at 3 p.m.

Open Discussion and Support Group for Front-Line Workers meets every Monday at 3:30 p.m.

Covid Recovery Through Wellness meets every Tuesday at 1 p.m. and every Thursday at 4 p.m.

Activity Group: Games and Social Time meets every Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Writing Through Covid meets every Friday at 3 p.m.

Customized workshops are also available upon request for virtually any mental health-related topic. Current topics include compassion fatigue, grief and loss, re-entry stress, and support groups for front-line workers. Fill out the Request Form here.

Blog written by Brenda Patoine on behalf of VCN/Vermont Care Partners for COVID Support Vermont, a grant funded by FEMA and the Vermont Department of Mental Health

Need to Talk?

Call 2-1-1 (in Vermont) for assistance.

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 center for 24/7 support. 

Find Help

Find resources and tools for coping with stress at

One-click translation to 100 languages of most everything on the website, plus Multilingual Resources.

Find your local community mental health center by visiting Vermont Care Partners.

COVID Support VT is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, managed by Vermont’s Department of 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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