'True anxiety about going back to work': Studies show Canadians feeling post-pandemic anxiety
LONDON, ONT. -- As Ontario moves closer to reopening the province, the idea of returning to a pre-pandemic life is stressful for some Canadians.
'There is true anxiety about going back to work," says Dr. David Dozois, a professor of psychology at Western University.
"There's been a number of polls, Leger for example, said that 53 per cent of people are anxious about returning back. The American Psychological Association said that about 50 per cent of people are anxious about the kind of social etiquette of going back to work, and the Mental Health Research Canada has also released a poll showing that 71 per cent of people are worried about catching COVID post-pandemic."
That doesn't seem to be the case in the U.S. Many sports stadiums are at full capacity with no masks required. Many states have no restrictions at all.
However in Canada, whether it be dining outdoors or indoors, getting a hair cut, heading to the gym, or even a movie theatre, the fears of catching COVID-19 are real.
Business associations are working hard to assure the public that if protocols are followed, they'll be safe.
"We have been doing vignette videos to show people, kind of what the things are, and in the most recent ones we've had people in masks doing the things that they do in their business," says Brian Yeomans, chair of the Windsor, Ont. Business Improvement Association (BIA).
"In some of them people have been wearing masks, goggles and showing you the procedures that they've had to take to make sure that their customers feel safe and are safe."
At Downtown London, executive director Barbara Maly hasn't noticed customer hesitation.
"We're actually finding there's a lot of pent-up demand for people to come downtown, especially now that we've got two weekends under our belt with patios being open," she says.
However, she does feel it is important for everyone involved to make each other feel safe.
"It's not only shops and restaurants, but it's events that we're looking to put on in the future," says Maly.
"As restrictions lift, we'll be planning activations and events, according to what restrictions are in effect at the time. Once we get notice, we will probably start with some smaller activations again, and we're looking forward to the fall and even the holiday season. There's a lot of planning that goes into this, and a lot of detail that needs to go into it and thinking around, 'how do we ensure safety of those who come and visit us downtown?'"
Dozois feels its important to be compassionate and understanding of people's anxiety levels, and if necessary, help ease people back into post-pandemic life.
"I can see a lot of people wearing masks for some time to come, even though it's not going to be sort of required," says Dozois.
"I think that will be an important thing for some people to do just to feel better about it, as time goes on, I think people will get more used to that."
And as fears are faced, and anxiety lessens, eventually those people may be comfortable with taking the mask off.
"I think we just need to kind of allow people to handle their anxiety, the way they are doing it and have the respect and compassion for other people,"says Dozois.