Meet the ‘Anxiety Sisters’ helping people return to work post-pandemic

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The past 16 or so months have provided ample fodder for anyone prone to anxiety. But for people who live with anxiety, these times bring on more than just garden-variety worry.

Along with their popular Facebook group, “The Anxiety Sisters’ Survival Guide” by Abbe Greenberg and Maggie Sarachek (TarcherPerigree), out Sept. 14, aims to give people a sense of community — and good tips for coping with anxiety. The friends met in college in the 1980s and bonded over their shared condition.

“It was hard to find support back then,” says Greenberg. “What we have now is a treasure chest and an arsenal of what works. One size does not fit all. It might not even fit you today. So many people can think, ‘Oh, I thought I was the only one.’ When you have 100 people saying, ‘I have that too!’ it’s reassuring. You’re a unique person, but anxiety disorder is not unique. And anxiety sisters don’t go it alone.” 

Lately, the pair has been fielding plenty of inquiries from group members who are anxious about returning to their office. “Earlier today, I was on FB and someone DM’d me and said, ‘I’m on a conference call with my office right now and they’re talking about going back to the office and I have tears going down my face and I feel like I’m going to throw up,’ ” says Sarachek. 

“One thing we recommend is taking baby steps before you have to go back. You want to get the brain thinking, ‘This is my routine again.’ So one day, that might involve dressing up again, or putting on makeup. Or it might involve getting in your car and driving partway or full-way to work. It’s exposure therapy.” 

Another thing they recommend is a DAB: a Designated Anxiety Buddy to check in with when things feel shaky. “It could be someone online, someone who understands the experience of anxiety, so they won’t make you feel judged. Having someone who can say, ‘I get that, I’ve had it too’ — when we are met with acceptance, it does a lot for us.”

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