By Erin Shaw Street: For Complete Post, Click Here…
When I stepped onto the art festival grounds, I felt anxious. On one of my first social outings after quarantining for nearly 15 months, I was excited to see art, perhaps run into some old friends. I was fully vaccinated, wearing a mask and keeping at an appropriate distance from other people during a gorgeous spring day in Birmingham, Ala. But I also felt off-kilter.
“Hmmm,” I thought. “This is a familiar feeling.”
Then I realized why — and that I knew just what to do.
That sense of unease at the art festival reminded me of how I felt five years ago, when I was newly sober. Back then, as I got used to a new kind of life, I employed tools recommended by my therapist and by other people in recovery. The challenges were different at the festival — I wasn’t trying to avoid alcohol — but the solutions were similar: acknowledge the feelings, take some deep breaths and talk about it with a friend.
“There’s a sense of anticipatory anxiety around re-navigating and reintegrating — an excitement and trepidation at the same time, and the fears around, ‘Will I be able to cope?’” said psychologist John Kelly, the Elizabeth R. Spallin Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of Massachusetts General Hospital Recovery Research Institute.
While some people may argue that addiction and reentry anxiety do not share the same level of urgency, “There are always more commonalities between people than there are differences,” says Nzinga Harrison, a psychiatrist, addiction medicine physician, and co-founder of Eleanor Health and the “In Recovery” podcast. She said that as we collectively adjust to the reopening of society, people in recovery have a lot of expertise to offer.
Here are some recovery approaches that can help if you are experiencing mixed feelings about returning to pre-pandemic activities.