Coping with the “Reintegration Anxiety”

It took a pandemic for people to wake up and pay attention to their mental health. And as the world reopens, Psychologist Shobhika Jaju explores a phenomenon that many people are now struggling with, that is, reintegration anxiety.

..

The human mind has a tendency to get conditioned, that is get used to things; people, situations, and the list goes on. Early psychological literature often talks about the concept of “conditioning”, which was originally given by behaviourist, Pavlov. If you have ever heard about an experiment where a dog would start salivating for food, at the ring of a bell, you know what I am talking about. Look at your own daily schedules; do you feel hungry at almost the same time every day or perhaps feel sleepy at a set bedtime?

Used to our advantage, this tendency to get conditioned in the presence of reinforcement from our environment, is a great tool for inculcating new habits, building resilience, etc. But unfortunately, because it is an inherent tendency we are talking about, there is also the possibility of us getting conditioned to stimulus around us, unintentionally. And that is precisely the reason, why we are now noticing an increase in the phenomenon of “reintegration anxiety”.

Countless number of psychological studies have reported the spike in generalized and specific anxiety conditions in India, across age groups. Reintegration anxiety, commonly referred to as reentry anxiety, is by itself not a separate diagnostic category in the mental health manuals. It is, however, a type of anxiety which stems from excessive worry about possible negative consequences, that comes with having to get back to the “normal” life. It is kind of similar to social anxiety; however, the catch is that people who have never shown any symptoms of anxiety are also now extremely distressed because of the possibility of going back to workplaces, socializing, having guests over, and so on. When the social restrictions were first announced, it led to a lot of anxiety but as we got conditioned to living indoors, a lot of people are showing anxiety symptoms at the prospect of re-socializing and re-engaging with the world.

So, how do you know if you are experiencing the reintegration anxiety? Very simply, think of a social situation that you have to be a part of over the coming days, and ask yourself if you are looking forward to it, or are dreading the thought of going out and interacting with people. Are there thoughts about how will people judge you or what will others think about you? Is there any negative thinking about how you have changed over the past many months and thus you feel less confident heading out? These thoughts accompanied by any physical manifestations of anxiety and the emotion itself, are a sign that the discomfort which you are experiencing at the mere thought of going out, is more than just discomfort. Some common ways in which the reintegration anxiety manifests itself includes social withdrawal, tendency to decline all social invitations, absenteeism from work/college/school, irritability/anger, appetite and sleep disturbances, lack of interest in doing things, etc.

Well, the good news is that all anxieties can be dealt with in a healthy manner. Remember, what I said about our minds getting conditioned at the start of this article? While you may have got conditioned to staying indoors, you can very well get reconditioned to socializing and engaging with the world too. It’s the initial few times when you are heading out, which will seem like the most difficult to carry on with.

Here is how to cope; in each new situation, start by asking yourself, “What is it that I am afraid of the most?” And then challenge the reasons which your anxiety is presenting to you for staying indoors and cancelling that social commitment. You will be surprised to know that most of the reasons have no logical evidence to support it. Another good strategy will be to start small. Instead of going to a social gathering of a 100 people as your first social commitment, plan a small outing with just a couple of friends to a café nearby, and slowly challenge your comfort zone. Make a list of things you are looking forward to, which you couldn’t do during the lockdown restrictions. Reintroduce these activities slowly, one at a time. Focus on things in your control, to handle the fear of uncertainty which dominates when we are feeling anxious. Living in Goa, we are blessed with enough open & secluded spaces to start venturing out, without feeling the threat of socializing, unless we are absolutely ready.

Most importantly, be compassionate toward yourself and your feelings. Your experiences and feelings are valid, and judging yourself for the same, will only hold you back further. 

Image Credits: Shobhika Jaju & Stock

You Might Also Be Interested In

OLDER AND BOLDER
Children’s Day Celebration
I never find any difference based on gender as far as...
Eight Down Toofaan Mail is not a film made with money, but with passion: Akriti Singh
When History comes back to Life…
A Festival Like No Other ….. (IFFI 2021)
Veerangana: The story of valour and courage of women protecting women
Viral ‘Amche Mollem’ Campaign creates a manifesto
Air-gliding snake rescued at Keri!
Is Day 6 of Iffi still interesting?
Pink rickshaws with women drivers to be in Goa!
'Spirit of Goa' Feni/ Food festival will be back!
NFAI enriches its collection by adding 8...
Helicopters in Goa to the rescue!
Shri Anurag Thakur announces Indian Film Personality of the Year Award for 2021
898 Olive Ridley eggs in Canacona!
Juicy Mancurad mangoes of Goa are now more affordable!
A race.... to watch BIRDS?!
Goa Night Activities (other than clubbing)
A Very FENI Story
To protect Goa's sensitive environment, a marine interpretation centre will be set up
10 Must Do Watersport activities in Goa (2022)
Loneliness is almost like a...
Feni distillers in Goa show how the heritage drink is made at their 'bhatis'
A Goa fisherman saw something that surprised scientists!
India’s very first 360° Bollywood Lounge experience all set to launch in Goa
Yummy local vegetables of Goa have new rates!
The monsoon season may start a bit earlier in Goa !
New tribal museum for Goa!
Easter weekend return trips from Goa to be more expensive
Some progress in Goa... solar powered hospitals?!
IFFI Pays Tributes to Sir Sean Connery - the first James Bond on screen
Walk into the Natural Spa in Goa
Watersports activities in Goa are frozen?
Iffi 2021- 9 Days of Film Extravaganza
Milk prices in Goa will increase by Rs. 4
Goa skies will have Venus and Jupiter "touching" each other soon!
Take Goa's heritage back home with you by...
Line-up of Films for ICFT-UNESCO Gandhi Medal
IFFI 52 International Competition Film Charlotte captures...
Mangoes sell like hot cakes at Bicholim
Rare Olive Ridely turtle visit after 30-40 years!
Japanese Film ‘Ring Wandering’, a film which...
Olive Ridely turtle with missing limb comes and...
A glimpse into a day at IFFI 2021
Cutest tourist - German Shepherd, Maggie, explores Goa!
"Raj Kapoor: The Master at Work” is not...
Sip and Munch ‘Drunch’ at Holiday Inn Goa Candolim
GO GRAND - NYE Gala Dinner and Theatre Show at Grand Hyatt Goa
Now you can do film shoots in the Colvale jail!


Leave a Reply