June 7, 2021
Lifted Mask Mandates May Lead to Postpandemic Anxiety for Some
Suzanne Vickers, LISW-S; Ohio State Employee Assistance Program

The mask mandate has been lifted, and those who are fully vaccinated are now able to go without a mask in public places for the first time in 15 months. We have been so accustomed to wearing a mask and social distancing that this will be an adjustment: with change can come anxiety.

"This is a real thing. The lack of a mask in public, it causes anxiety," said Psychologist Dr. Max Wachtel. "Mentally it’s going to be tough to turn that switch off. We have been very careful, very socially responsible for a really long time."

It’s going to take time to mentally adjust to this new way of being. Allow yourself to determine what is best for you and your family. Perhaps you will want to still wear a mask in public spaces because it makes you feel safe; that is absolutely acceptable. No one but you can make that decision. Just because the mandate is being lifted doesn’t mean that you have to make a sudden change too…it could be that you choose to change your habits gradually which could help with the anxiety you might feel. Again, allow yourself to make that choice. It might help too to keep up with the latest news to stay informed.

Communicate with friends and family about your needs. Having some predictability about how you want to proceed with wearing or not wearing a mask will help ease some fear and bring more comfort prior to gathering. It will take time to adjust to the new “normal,” and you may feel uncomfortable at first; that is to be expected. Be kind to yourself and others as we navigate these new waters.

If you need support to help with this transition, please reach out to us at the Employee Assistance Program. Counselors are available to help you to manage your anxiety through this time of change. Call 800-678-6265 24/7 to speak with an intake counselor and they will get you connected for an appointment.



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