The world is opening back up, and the sun is trying to shine. The Friday and Saturday nights on the sofa that we have become accustomed to are about to change, but how do we really feel? Are we ready to go from 0 to 100 and dive back into the pre lockdown norm? How do we feel when our phone is constantly sounding off with notifications about in-person meetings and back to work schedules? According to a post lockdown survey, 38% of us in Britain are now used to life in the ‘slow lane,’ and 28% of us are eager to get back to socialising. So whether you are keen to jump in and do whatever you can or a little nervous about dipping your toe in, it is essential to take the proper steps to make sure you adjust while staying energised.
Here are a few points to keep in mind as we enter a new phase this summer.
As the invitations roll in, there are definitely divided reactions; some can’t fill their calendar quick enough, while others are panicked at the growing requests for outside obligations. Regardless of how you feel, according to the NHS, it is essential to take each day at a time and go at your own pace—for those socialites, saying yes to everything at once can be great at first but can cause social burnout. Cognitive Behavioural Therapist Claire Luchford suggests that doing too much can result in feeling ‘overwhelmed, tired’ and turning socialising from enjoyable to stressful. For those less thrilled about the thought of going outside and mingling, the Mental Health Foundation recommends setting your own pace and not allowing others to pressure you into changing it.
We have all had different experiences during the lockdown; some have worked from home, had job security throughout and have had time to focus on other things such as creative outlets and exercise. Others may have had a more challenging and stressful experience such as losing loved ones, unemployment and uncertainty. Being aware of this can be very helpful for reconnecting in post lockdown life.
For those who may not have the financial stability to run outside and drink the bar dry or jet off, the next available destination being invited may cause stress and pressure,. In contrast, others may still be anxious about crowded spaces. Understanding your friends and family and being aware of the factors that could be going on in the background could result in a much more enjoyable meetup and give you lasting energy to do more in the future.
Having said all of that, psychotherapist Gael Lindenfield urges to try ‘to focus on the positives’ of getting out and socialising. The NHS website also supports this by saying, even though it is sometimes easier to avoid things that make us anxious, we should try and set smaller goals and enjoy them and build up from there. Social interaction is good for our mental health and mental stimulation, so we should try to get involved more when we can. It doesn't matter if it's a group work out class or a picnic in the park it's good to try and do things you love together. The lesson for all of us being; reaching out to friends and family is important but doing it at the right pace and focusing on the things that you enjoy the most will give you the best experience and help sustain mental energy.
Finally, don’t forget about that all-important time for yourself. We have found the importance of ‘me time’ and its link to our physical and mental energy during the lockdown. However, with the excitement of the world opening up, we can forget to still factor this in! Whether it’s some time in the morning or saying no to booking up your last available night of the week, keeping room for that time for yourself is a great way to de-stress from the changes and take in the new environment.
While everyone is hoping this is the last lockdown, let’s come out of it in a way that suits us and keeps us at the top of our game. So here’s to hugging and long overdue catch-ups with family, friends and co-workers. Just don’t forget that all-important ‘me time’!