From quarantine fatigue to fear of public spaces: Reopening reactions run the gamut

From quarantine fatigue to fear of public spaces: Re-open reactions run the gamut

BOSTON — As businesses prepare to reopen in Massachusetts, mental health professionals say we should all be preparing ourselves emotionally for getting back out into society.

Millis psychiatrist Dr. Mathieu Bermingham says reactions vary greatly right now. On one end of the spectrum is so-called quarantine fatigue.

“This fatigue is kind of reaching a point where we feel that we don't want to keep doing this anymore,” Bermingham said. “They want to change the channel like we've seen the show for enough. Now we want something different.”

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Dr. Bermingham says the opposite is true for many others; the idea of heading out into a world with the virus leaves them full of fear and anxiety.

“It's a normal survival technique that we have and at times we react to something fearful by shutting down,” Bermingham said.

He recommends turning to the three “Rs” to help cope with the stress:

  • Routine
  • Relax
  • Relationships

He recommends maintaining a schedule for sleep, work and school. Making time to relax, whether it is through meditation or prayer, or playing outside and having fun. When it comes to relationships, maintaining connections – even remotely – with friends and family is important. But Dr. Bermingham says the same is true with coworkers as people return to the office.

“Acknowledge that we’re going to have various emotional responses to it. But then how do you reframe that into something that helps build resiliency? And one way I find is to not feel that we’re all doing this alone, but we’re doing it you know, together,” Bermingham concluded.

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