Over the next few weeks, those in Australia's most populous states are emerging from months-long lockdowns. While freedoms are welcomed by the wider community, many are also experiencing levels of so-called reopening anxiety.
Psychologist Miranda Cashin says while the freedoms are exciting, many will experience a level of anxiety.
“Anxiety manifests in situations that are uncertain. And at the moment our world is very uncertain. It's that general sense of worry around what might happen, how will I cope? What will that look like? And that can manifest in that physical sense of symptoms of butterflies in the stomach, physical tension, as well as the worries of what will happen? how will I cope? What will that look like?"
Businesses who fail to comply with public health orders, can face fines of 5000 dollars or more
As the country opens up, the public will need to constantly adapt to new public health orders and amendments to reopening road maps, as case numbers and evidence updates
Reopening at 70 or 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage offers substantial protection against COVID-19
Many may fear passing on the virus to those who are unvaccinated, such as children or those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons.
And it's not yet clear how vaccination levels will impact on case numbers, how well vaccines reduce transmission of the Delta variant, or vaccine immunity overtime.
But Ms Cashin says it's important to establish personal boundaries and communicate them to others.
"Be really clear yourself about what you're comfortable doing health-wise or restrictions-wise because that's going to help you navigate what social invitations you say yes to or how you might have conversations with people in your life. So for example, you're only comfortable having picnics, being clear 'okay that's my limit, that's my boundary'. And whatever that looks like, is perfectly fine for everyone, because we're all going to have different boundaries."
She adds many will experience anxiety differently.
"For those who do have social anxiety or are more on that social anxiety spectrum, it's probably been a space that (lockdown) is slightly comfortable at the moment. Because no one is socialising, there's no sense of missing out, because we all are. In that sense of 'okay now I have to go out and be in the world', 'are my friendships going to be the same?', 'what's changed?', 'what if I don't want to hang out, but then I'll be the one who's not going out when everyone else is'. So there will be a lot of complex problems coming up for people over the next couple weeks."
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