Lehigh Valley counselor offers tips to cope with re-entry anxiety

Written by on July 2, 2021

Lehigh Valley counselor offers tips to cope with re-entry anxiety

By Megan Frank
July 3, 2021

A crowded room at an art exhibit in early February of 2020. Photo | Jen Rehill / WLVR

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Coronavirus restrictions are easing up and many people are getting back to their favorite activities.

Listen to the story.

Yet, nearly half of Americans are nervous about interacting in person again, according to the American Psychological Association.

Stan Theodoredis, a licensed professional counselor and chief executive officer of Lehigh Valley Counselors in Bethlehem, says big changes can be difficult. 

“We have experienced a trauma as a society as a whole and we’re now coming out of that,” he says. 

Theodoredis, who is also a clinically certified trauma professional, says he advises his clients to relax and meditate before they attend social outings. 

“Walking into a bar, walking into a restaurant, can I stay in the present, in my own mind? And not project all of the ‘what if’s’ that can happen, that turn into what I would call an anxiety tornado,” Theodoredis says. 

He says another way to cope is to talk about it.

“Initially there was fear, then we learned to isolate, hide behind our masks and hide behind our doors and walls,” Theodoredis says. “Talk to each other about it, the discomfort. [I can] guarantee that almost everybody that you run into is feeling the same thing.”

Theodoredis says re-entry anxiety should subside for most people. 

Still, if those feelings persist, he recommends connecting with a professional counselor to develop coping strategies.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of American offers a list of tips to manage re-entry stress on its website.

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