ARDMORE, Pa. (CBS) — Returning to normal life after the pandemic won’t be easy for some who have gotten used to the seclusion and safety protocols. Health experts say there are steps you can take to make the transition easier.

“It’s not an individualized trauma. It’s not one person that experienced it,” Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, licensed clinical psychologist, said. “Everybody went through it.”

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2020 was a year like no other. No sporting events, no indoor dining, many didn’t even celebrate their birthday and the holidays may have been lonely.

But with more Americans becoming vaccinated, normalcy is on the horizon.

“Initially, it was this mandated kind of separation from society so to speak,” Zuckerman said. “You had to do it. You had no choice. Because we kind of got comfortable with that routine, to break out of that now is very anxiety-provoking.”

Zuckerman is a psychologist based out of Ardmore. She says if you have anxiety when thinking about being reintegrated into society, you’re not alone.

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“Nobody really has an idea of what it’ll look like and how long it will take us to get there, so there’s still this level of uncertainty,” she said. “Even though we’re going back to this ‘normalcy,’ I don’t know many people who few normal right now.”

The pandemic was a collective trauma that the world experienced together, but there are ways to work through that trauma and anxiety.

“Take it extremely slow,” Zuckerman said. “Even though this came upon us very fast, the best way to come out of this is very slow.”

Zuckerman says to slowly get back into your pre-pandemic routine that’s possible and safe and to set small goals.

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is 100% appropriate,” she said.

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Zuckerman says usually the adjustment period to trauma like a pandemic takes about three to six months. If symptoms still persist, it could be an anxiety disorder, major depression, or PTSD.

Kimberly Davis