As soon as the Government announced their ‘roadmap’ for getting us out of lockdown, it seemed everyone has jumped at the new opportunities to go out and enjoy ourselves. Many of us may have received lists of restaurants and bars that our friends are desperate to visit, or invites to dinners and birthdays for the first time in months. Of course, this is exciting, but for some, the corona anxiety that has lingered for the last year has made the prospect of these new plans feel rather daunting.
It’s no secret that lockdown has affected our mental health and general well being quite dramatically. Learning to adjust to a completely new life, whilst constantly feeling vigilant and worried for yourself or those you love, is incredibly mentally draining. Although we might have felt that as we return to pub gardens and outdoor dining these anxieties would go away, they may, instead, be heightened.
For months, we have been isolated and alone - living in our confined spaces and having to make-do with facetime chats and zoom drinks. Entering into a new social space is not something that everyone will be able to do with ease! Many of us are worried about having fewer friends, not being ‘caught-up’, or feeling that you just don’t remember how to act in a conversation anymore. We know that everyone is in the same boat, and there really isn’t anything to have ‘FOMO’ over. However, managing those feelings can be difficult in itself.
If you find yourself feeling daunted at the concept of face-to-face socialising, it is important to be kind to yourself. We might feel that we have to be doing everything that gets thrown our way. However, after a long-time without dinners out or pub trips, taking it slow is definitely wiser for some. It can also be incredibly tiring, suddenly having to be alert and aware, taking social queues from multiple people at once. Planning time to rest and recuperate after social evenings and events is key. It might seem great to suddenly be able to drink and go out again, but we should not beat ourselves up if it suddenly becomes a bit too much.
Finding ways to schedule and plan enough time for just yourself into a week is vital. More than this, it’s important to be kind to yourself. If you find that you’re not as funny as you’d like to be, or engaging in conversation - it’s OK! We are all in the same boat here. The best way forward is to talk to our friends and be open about what we can and can’t do. Hopefully, there will be a whole summer of festivities to celebrate. There’s no need to bite off more than we can chew at once.
If you do find yourself feeling tired or drained after socialisations, a very common phenomena, finding purposeful alone time is a great way to help. Having baths, or spending evenings reading and relaxing, is a great way to recover. Of course, drinking heavily is not the best idea when managing anxiety, but having a comfortable and happy hangover environment is a great way to lessen that damage.
However you chose to come out of lockdown, make sure that you know yourself. Don’t push yourself futher than your boundaries allow - and make sure you communicate any ‘weird’ feelings to your friends too. It wouldn’t at all be surprising if they, too, were in the very same boat.