‘It’s absolutely OK to feel anxious’: Professional counselor gives advice to those worried about end of mask mandate

Mask mandate ends Wednesday, earlier than many residents are comfortable with

SAN ANTONIO – Belinda Tuyub isn’t looking forward to Wednesday when the state opens back up 100% and ends its blanket mask mandate.

“I’m anxious about it. I’m worried about it. I feel like we’re going in the wrong direction,” Tuyub said Tuesday.

The San Antonio mother of four is primarily concerned about the repeal of the statewide mask mandate. She worries that fewer people wearing masks will increase the risk of her and her 11-year-old asthmatic son of getting sick.

“It leaves people like myself that can’t compromise themselves because of somebody at home, just worried, just scared about what might happen,” Tuyub said.

There are plenty of mixed feelings around the state about what will happen Wednesday. You need to look no further than your social media feeds to find people who think it’s long overdue, while others think it’s much too soon.

Christopher Taylor, owner of Taylor Counseling Group, said feeling anxious is fine.

“This is a state of uncertainty that we’re all in. It’s absolutely OK to feel anxious,” Taylor said.

Taylor recommends taking stock of how you feel about it and then setting “healthy boundaries” based on that. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable with your gym dropping mask requirements, then don’t go or find a new gym. If your friends are going out without masks, let them know you don’t feel like you can join them.

“I think the higher risk you or your family are, the more serious you should take that, and the more stringent you should be with your boundaries,” Taylor said.

As for dealing with the anxiety itself, there’s no single magic answer to rid you of it forever. However, things like taking walks, leaning on your support system, using meditation apps or even taking 10 deep breaths can help you manage what you’re feeling.

When you do have to be around people, Taylor recommends taking the precautions that you can, like wearing your own mask and maintaining distance. You should also recognize what you can control versus what you can’t, such as other people and their masks or lack thereof.

Additionally, Taylor recommends managing your expectations.

“This is not going away tomorrow,” he said. “It is going to be a challenge, but we are going to get through it.”

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