“Post-Pandemic Stress Disorder” and Coping with a New Normal

May 9, 2022

First Stop Health Counselors

The term “return to normal” is cause for mixed emotion. Some are excited and have been anxiously waiting to attend events, travel, see family and more. But others are experiencing elevated levels of stress and fear about the changing policies and post-COVID social expectations. Some doctors have coined this experience “post-pandemic stress disorder.  


What is post-pandemic stress disorder? 

While COVID-19 is certainly not gone, Americans are adjusting to a “new normal,” which has triggered feelings of anxiety, mood instability and mental exhaustion for some. While post-pandemic stress disorder is not an official diagnosis, the term describes the trauma that many have experienced during the pandemic and while adapting to a new normal.  

63% of adults have said that their lives have been changed forever by the pandemic. While some report the change is neither negative nor positive, the pandemic has made a significant impact on the way we live our lives. 13% of adults surveyed in 2020 reported increased substance use to cope with the stress of the pandemic.  

As we adjust to a new normal, many are having to confront the issues that have accumulated over the past two years. Adjustments to a new normal can include: 

  • Worries about catching COVID-19 and continued infection rates 
  • Socializing outside of the home  
  • Judgement of wearing masks or not wearing masks 
  • Learning how to cope with new stressors  


Overcoming the stress of returning to normal 

We all deal with stress in different ways. But working through that stress is key to improving your mental health as your communities continue to adapt through the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few tips to manage your stress: 

  • Observe and accept your feelings. Can you identify what is causing you stress? Understanding why you feel that way is a great first step in planning to overcome that stressor.  
  • Set your own boundaries. Create your own limits and set those expectations with your family, friends and coworkers. It’s okay to move at your own pace.  
  • Practice mindfulness and exercise. A great way to work through stress is to work it out! Take the time to focus on how your body is feeling.  
  • Care for your body. When your body is feeling good, your mental health benefits. Make sure you are sleeping well, eating nutritious foods and doing the things you enjoy.  
  • Find support. Remember, you do not have to go through things alone. Lean on family and friends when you can. If you’re struggling with adjusting to a new normal, you may benefit from talking to an unbiased professional, such as a doctor or counselor.  



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Originally published May 9, 2022 4:30:23 PM.