KITCHENER -- More than half of all Canadians are anxious about returning to post-pandemic life, a new study found.

The study conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies surveyed more than 1,600 Canadians, with 52 per cent reporting they feel some level of anxiety related to returning to what life was like before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The highest level of unease was reported among those between the ages of 18 and 24, with 68 per cent feeling some anxiety about a return to normal.

"I'm also a little nervous, it's been a while and I don't know how it's going to be," said one Waterloo Region resident.

"I'm probably going to freak out when it happens, I'm just so used to social distancing," added another resident.

A psychology professor at Wilfrid Laurier University says he's not surprised by the survey's results.

Magnus Mfoafo-M'Carthy says the anxiety likely stems from spending more than a year in social isolation.

"Post-COVID is really going to be challenging for all of us," he said. "The new normal that's been created is how are we going to feel when we go back to our offices, where we have to interact with our colleagues and other things. If someone opens the door, are you going to touch that knob?"

Mfoafo-M'Carthy says everyone will have to relearn how to interact with others.

"The questions that we continue asking ourselves, by interacting with people are they going to infect us in any way, shape or form? So there are thoughts that are going to continue lingering," he said.

The study suggests government officials should take a slow approach to reopen society.