By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia will ease more restrictions this Friday, including increasing capacity for indoor dining. Table size limits for outdoor dining will also go to 10 people and indoor catered events can resume with a maximum of 75 people.

So with more restrictions being lifted people are interacting again, but how safe is it? Will the vaccines offer enough protection? Will it be awkward to be with people in person again?

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Millions are suffering with re-entry anxiety. Health reporter Stephanie Stahl explains why and has some solutions so you feel more comfortable as life returns to normal.

It’s been more than a year of masking up, sheltering in place, and working from home. Businesses suffered, schooling was side-tracked and millions of people were infected with COVID-19.

“It’s been a banner year for stress and anxiety,” clinical psychologist Dr. Jonathan Horowitz said.

Now there’s a new kind of anxiety with people re-emerging — back on the boardwalk, inside the Cherry Hill Mall, or traveling from Philadelphia International.

“I know a lot of people can’t wait to start hugging people, I actually feel like no, I’m OK,” Maplewood resident Natalie Fygetakes said.

Doctors call it re-entry anxiety.

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“I see what’s going on in India and I’m worried the same is possible here if we’re not cautious,” Chris Knepp said.

Knepp has gotten used to wearing his mask in his backyard in West Chester and walking the dog.

“I worry about some of the breakthrough reoccurrences, the different variants. We still don’t know how long these vaccines are gonna work,” Knepp said.

One poll found nearly half of respondents feel uneasy about returning to in-person interactions.

“We’ve really been out of practice when it comes to socializing and being around lots of people,” said John Guardiani, a counselor with Philadelphia Integrative Psychiatry.

Guardiani says the most important way to deal with reentry anxiety is to “take it slow, everything in increments is the best way to go. You know there’s a phrase that we use in the field called ‘systematic desensitization’ and initially, that means taking baby steps.”

Other ways to ease re-entry anxiety include planning ahead & setting boundaries, sticking with close family and friends, focusing on what’s in your control, and accept whatever you’re feeling.

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And remember, re-entry means we’re closer to getting back to normal.

Stephanie Stahl