Singaporeans experiencing re-entry anxiety in Phase 2 - Theo10 | Made-In-Singapore Skincare Products

After two months stuck at home, most of us have an intense yearning to get out of the house and see friends and family, but not everyone. For some, who are affected by a new syndrome, remaining in the cosy comfort of the home appears infinitely preferable to venturing into the outside world. In short, they feel better staying in their shells.

This is an example of Re-Entry Panic Syndrome.

Re-entry Panic vs Anxiety

Anxiety is your brain’s or body’s response to stress that can be triggered by a lot of things. The stressor or the one causing stress can be real or imagined or a perceived threat. 

Low levels of anxiety can keep you alert and engaged but high levels of anxiety can lead to a clinical problem. 

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and phobia-related disorders. People with the most common type of anxiety disorder, GAD, spend an excessive amount of time worrying about a number of things. 

Re-entry Panic Syndrome is more of the worry about re-entering the community, job, or school after a quarantine or isolation due to the fear of becoming ill. 

The fear of becoming ill if they leave their home is overwhelming and can result in physical, behavioral, or emotional distress. These people start to  fear leaving their house or simply to meet people in real life.

Signs and Symptoms of Re-entry Panic Syndrome

Just like most mental health issues, the symptoms of Re-Entry Panic Syndrome can be physical, behavioral, or emotional.

Physical

  • Shortness of breath 
  • chest pain
  • panic attacks sweating, nausea
  •  racing heartbeat

Behavioral

  • Avoidance, 
  • Becoming upset when others close to them re-enter after quarantine
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Easily Irritated
  • General change in behavior

Emotional

  • Worried
  • Mood fluctuation or mood swings
  • Easily angered
  • Easily upset

Managing your anxiety

  1. Accept the anxiety 

Find a way to regulate yourself so that you can be a calming influence on others. Encourage yourself to write each worry down. Categorize things you can and can’t control and focus on the former.

2.Talk about and recall positives 

What are some of the things you can look forward to with re-entry? What are the positive lessons and new routines you’ll take with you from lockdown?

3. Be patient with separation

Do not push yourself or your loved ones out of your comfort zones too quickly.

4. Use empowering language

Instead of saying things like, “Nothing will be the same,” try saying things like, “it’ll be interesting to see how things are different.”

5. Remember, we are resilient

Most people are resilient and will weather this stressful experience and bounce back emotionally.

When Should You Seek Help?

There are many things you can do on your own to lessen stress and anxiety, but if you are stuck in an anxious and panicked mode, then your life is impacted. 

If you are worried about re-entering the world and it is interfering with your daily functioning, including returning to work or leaving your home when the quarantine has been lifted, you should seek help from a professional licensed therapist. 

How Can a Parent Manage their Anxiety When a Child or Teen Can and Wants to Re-enter the World?

The most important thing a parent should do is recognize that they need to ensure that they are safe from anxiety first before talking about this with their child or teen. If they are observably anxious, your child will feel it. The flip side is that when we are calm, our kids will feel reassured by that. 

Parents have to be open to the idea of the world reopening. They should sit down with their children and find out what they want to do and what they can do in their community. 

They should calmly review what their child or teen wants to do and paint the picture of what it will look like, as well as discuss the parameters. Start with short outings or meet-ups in public and do activities that you all can feel comfortable and safe with.

How Can an Employer Help an Employee Who is Afraid to Return to Work?

First, employers need to make sure they are having ongoing discussions about what you are doing to ensure the safety of employees and customers. Employers need to put their sanitizing and safety procedures in writing.

Employers need to be prepared for a range of emotions from their employees. One employee may be immobilized by fear and another may be so excited to return. These are all valid feelings and just anticipating different emotions can help you give your employees what they need and make this a win-win for all. 

It is important to ask your employee how they are feeling and what they need, so you can gauge their responses and needs in advance of asking them to return to work. If you have an employee assistance program (EAP)  in place, using their expertise to help employees with Re-Entry Panic Syndrome is a good idea. If you don’t have an EAP program, make sure to check with your HR staff or consultant to find out what kind of mental health support you can legally offer to your staff.

Work will look different going forward, it is best that employees do whatever possible to alleviate the stress in the company. Now more than ever, companies need to put stress and wellness initiatives in place to retain employees. They need to support not just the employee but maintain wellness for the organization and the company culture and wellness initiatives are proactive ways to do that. 

Adapted from: https://drroseann.com/re-entry-panic-syndrome/