By CBSNewYork Team

UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – After a year of living under COVID restrictions in varying degrees of isolation, some say they are feeling “reentry anxiety” as they begin to socialize again.

“I’m very nervous, especially with my children. I know that they want to go out, and we’re worried about where they’re going,” said Joseph Cangiano of Springfield.

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As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, as things start opening back up, people return to work and friends start planning get-togethers, some are feel a new kind of social anxiety, even if they are vaccinated.

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

So what is reentry anxiety?

“Reentry anxiety could involve a number of symptoms for just the sweaty palms to a little bit of nervousness, to a full-on panic attack,” said therapist Laura Rhodes-Levin, founder of the Missing Peace Center for Anxiety.

She recommends focusing on the positives of going out into society.

“It’s natural for us to be out and with each other, and the weird thing about isolation is it really turns us inward, and we become comfortable in this, in this darkness,” she said.

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Clinical psychologist Dr. Bart Rossi says if you are feeling more comfortable than a friend, talk it over.

“How do you feel? You know? How do you feel about, you know, where you are at this point in time? And then make an adjustment in terms of what you can do,” Rossi said.

The thought of being in a crowd may make some feel uncomfortable.

“If it’s around more people, I tend not to go,” one woman said.

“When do you advise people to maybe seek some help?” asked Baker.

“If people feel that they cannot function normally, that they really can’t get back to dating, for example. If they feel that they’re kind of paralyzed, they’re frozen in time, that they’re on the outside of society looking in,” Rossi said.

Experts say: Take it slow. A good first outing may be to sit outside at a restaurant.

Be safe, wear a mask, sanitize – but enjoy your life.

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Meg Baker contributed to this report. 

CBSNewYork Team