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'Getting back to normal' causing post-pandemic stress for some

As restrictions ease up, and more people get vaccinated, many feel comfortable to go out and gather. Others are feeling anxious for yet another change.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — What started as a slow easing of restrictions has sped up, with more people vaccinated, feeling comfortable to go out and gather. 

But not everyone feels the excitement. Some are anxious for yet another change. 

Dr. Nannette Funderburk, a Greensboro psychotherapist, says the pandemic caused a real upswing in anxiety and depressive disorders. Pre-pandemic stresses - only made worse because of it.

"It's like it placed pressure on the cracks and fissures that were already there," she said, "It was very easy for things to just kind of burst wide open."

As society reopens, she says it's not uncommon to feel stressed out about the unknowns.

"When we go back, when things open back up, we're going back to something that we have never quite done before," Dr. Funderburk said, "We've never gone back into 'normal life' after a pandemic because we're never lived through a pandemic before."

She believes the anxieties many have felt for a year will likely carry over. 

"Once we go back, I don't think it would be fair for us to just say, okay, yes we're back to normal everything's good, right? I think the pandemic stress is leading into post-pandemic stress," Dr. Funderburk said.

To cope, she suggests connecting with loved ones, keeping a schedule, and making plans you feel comfortable about.

"Be nice to yourself. Treat yourself like he would treat yourself after you've had a major surgery or something. You wouldn't expect yourself to go right back into everything as though nothing had happened. You would gently ease into things."

And know, that after a very long year, it will be an adjustment for all of us.