Saskatoon psychotherapist explains how to reduce anxiety as COVID-19 restrictions lift

A Saskatoon psychotherapist says when it comes to making decisions post-pandemic, it is sometimes best to go with the option that will most reduce your anxiety and fears.

“If taking those precautionary actions make me feel better, I have to do it. Some people might get afraid again at the judgement of others,” said Giti Caravan with Caravan Counselling.

“We have to go with however you are comfortable in this process. For some people it might be more gradual than for others.”

Step Three of the province’s reopening plan, which will see all public health restrictions lifted, is set for July 11.

Caravan said it is important for people to take their own time in figuring out how many precautions to follow.

The pandemic gave way to a lot of different types of anxiety in people, according to Caravan. Realizing that you’re not the only one going through all of these emotions is important.

“We have to keep track of what we have gone through to have confidence, because we experienced our biggest fears. We experienced the biggest restrictions of our lives, we experienced the biggest separation from others.

“But we went through it. This is what we have to know: when we think ‘I am the only one who is afraid, and nobody else is as scared as I am,’ this is something that puts us at a disadvantage.”

Caravan said that fear and anxiety towards the pandemic is not always necessarily a bad thing, and now that we are almost out to the other side, she said many might be better off having lived through it.

“It is part of being a human, we are fear-driven to be safe, and we face the fears,” Caravan said.

“It helps us to build confidence, we are more confident, more capable than what we were before 2020.”

CONCERN OVER COVID-19 VARIANTS

For George and Lynda Casey, the masks will be staying on past July 11.

“We’re not leaving the masks at home for a while. We both have health issues and there’s all the variants running around now.” Lynda told CTV News.

Lynda said they are going to keep doing what they have been doing during the pandemic, and they are nervous about the world around them trying to get back to normal.

“Big crowds at games, I’m very reluctant for that, and big gatherings, I’m scared. Up north they just had another outbreak. It’s still around,” George said.

The Caseys said they are going to play things by ear, adjusting their precautions as they see fit.

LOOKING FORWARD TO SUMMER

Mother and daughter Dori and Alexis Banda are both excited for things to get back to normal.

“I’m really looking forward to the changes, and getting back to normal. I got both shots, so I’m vaccinated and I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer,” Alexis said.

Alexis was in university during a good portion of the pandemic and had to adjust to online learning, and Dori is a teacher who had to adjust to distancing and masks inside the classroom.

Alexis acknowledges that her “normal” might not mean the same thing it did two years ago.

“I’ll be excited to not wear a mask, but I think some things are going to stay the same. I’ll always sanitize my hands carefully. COVID has made me a lot more cautious,” Alexis said.

Dori said she is excited to finally get back to a point where conversation wont mean staring a masked face.

“I’m looking forward to it coming off and getting to a new normal. I’m anxious to see people’s faces, and see smiles and stuff like that.”