SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — It's an exciting time for so many people as California is officially back open; however, some feel anxious about ripping off those masks and diving back into crowds.
“In California and San Diego County, the number of people that have been vaccinated, we’re doing really well, so that gives me hope,” said San Diegan Troy Kahle.
Seeing fewer COVID-19 cases and California fully reopening brings a new sense of hope to Kahle, but as a COVID-19 survivor, he fears the unknown when returning to pre-pandemic life.
“I went to the hospital on March 24, I was released on April 10, I was in an actual coma for 11 days,” he explained. “It does give me anxiety for sure. Being in a crowd, having people very close to me, that’s still something I’m getting used to, and I think it’s going to take me a while.”
Kahle is not alone. Dr. Jill Stoddard, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, said there is a fair amount of reentry concerns.
“We started offering in-person sessions, and as of right now, almost everyone is opting to stay on Zoom,” she said. “When you’re reentering, there’s still always going to be some anxiety because it’s something we haven’t done in such a long time.”
Stoddard said during this adjustment period, speaking up in uncomfortable situations, even at work, can help.
“If you can have an open, honest conversation, this is going to head off a lot of problems down the road, and for employers to have compassion and understand that people are going to differ widely in their comfort level as they’re coming back and to be patient.”
She also said trusting science and paying attention to available data can help people start easing back into their pre-pandemic lives.
“If the CDC is saying it’s safe for fully vaccinated adults to gather indoors, then, for now, we can trust that is safe unless and until we hear something different,” she said. “I think the other is really being thoughtful about what you truly want to do or not want to do. I think the pandemic has taught all of us that maybe we can be a little more choosy.”
While mask restrictions are now lifted in most settings if you’re still uncomfortable taking it off or even gathering with others, Stoddard says to remember: it’s okay to take it slow.
“Don’t cave to the peer pressure, go with your gut, go with your instinct, do what you’re willing to do,” said Stoddard.