COVID-19 restrictions are still ongoing, but with the Government beginning to discuss easing restrictions, you might be thinking of what life will look like when things start to go back to normal. Over lockdown there may have been things that you really missed doing such as hugging or seeing friends and family, but also aspects of the down time that you enjoyed.
As things begin to open back up you may be experiencing mixed feelings about returning to the way things were before. If you are feeling worried or anxious this is completely understandable. Change can be difficult and going back to a fast paced lifestyle may feel overwhelming. Take things slowly and at your own pace. Remind yourself that everyone is different and you do not have to be ready to do something just because those around you are.
Six tips for dealing with social anxiety after lockdown
Prioritise what you enjoyed before the pandemic
If you are feeling overwhelmed about going back into society, it can be helpful to ask yourself what it was about life pre-COVID that you enjoyed. Did you enjoy going to college, going to work or training with the team you played for? Did you enjoy meeting friends and family, going to the cinema and museums, or going dancing on a night out? Whatever it was that brought you happiness, think about that and make a list of your favourite activities.
When you have your list made you might realise that although you enjoyed certain things, you do not feel ready to begin doing them straight away once you are allowed to. For example, you might feel comfortable going to the gym and exercising but do not feel ready to start training again in a large group. Remember, you are allowed to take things at your own pace and prioritise what makes you feel good, and in doing so, you help to support your overall well being and adjustment.
Let people know what you are comfortable with
Talking to your friends or family before they start making plans and letting them know how you are feeling and what you are ready for can help to create plans on your terms. Everyone has been in the same situation for the past while, and the reality is that many people will be feeling the same way you do.
Letting those closest to you know what you are happy to do and what you would rather avoid can help to create plans that work for everyone. If you only feel comfortable meeting up with someone alone or in smaller groups let your friends know that and give them options to spend time together that will make you comfortable.
Spend time with smaller groups to ease yourself back into things
Looking forward to seeing your family but not sure you are ready to see them all at once? Feeling this way is absolutely fine and you do not have to put yourself in social situations that you are not comfortable with. Reach out to those you are ready to see and do so in a way that works for you.
If someone asks you to do something you feel you are not ready for, it can help to offer an alternative suggestion that would work for you both. Remember, you are not the only person who will be feeling this way and you do not need to explain yourself if you feel someone will not understand. Everyone is different and what is important is that you prioritise your safety and wellbeing, and the safety of others.