With the State of California planning to eliminate most COVID-19 restrictions on June 15, Iliniza (Nisa) Baty, Venice Family Clinic’s director of behavioral health, today offered four tips for people to avoid stress, fear and anxiety as they resume broader social interactions and return to the workplace and group outings. She encouraged people to explore the root of their fears, focus on what they can control, get outdoors and exercise and recognize they’re not alone.

“Our social muscles may have atrophied as we sheltered at home over the past year, and the return to normal social interactions may cause stress and anxiety,” she said. “We need to recognize that for some of us, it may take small steps to get back to feeling comfortable again at work, school and in groups.”

She encouraged people to explore the root of their fears by taking a step back and questioning whether they feel anxiety about the state of the global pandemic broadly or whether their fears are based on their own experiences? She said that taking the time to conduct this assessment will help offer fresh answers and perspective.

With all the challenges of the pandemic, Baty said people need to focus on what they can control now – from the way they control their breath to the decisions about where they go and who they see.

“When you intentionally choose to focus on what you can take action on, you start to eliminate ifs and buts and any fears associated with those,” she said. “It is extremely powerful.”

To help ease anxiety and stress, she suggests getting outside and exercising because physical movement helps calm these emotions. She suggested starting with small steps, such as a walk around the block, and to expand that over time.

Baty also said sharing feelings and experiences with others not only reminds people that they aren’t alone; it helps relieve stress and anxiety. Speaking with a counselor or other mental health professional can help. To become a patient of Venice Family Clinic, please call (310) 392-8636. L.A. County offers help at (800) 854-7721 for COVID-19 related stress and support.

For more information, visit VeniceFamilyClinic.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Submitted by Laura Mecoy