The other side to restriction reductions: the fear of socialising
Lifestyle Editor Millie Betts discusses the anxieties that many might be experiencing while restrictions continue to be lifted
Pandemic restrictions have taken their toll on the masses as we’re shut up inside, left looking at the same four walls day in and day out. Currently, we’re able to meet one person from outside our household or bubble outdoors, and predictions show that we might be able to return to some kind of normalcy by the end of June. If that is the case, then days of lively socialising are not so far away, providing some light at the end of the tunnel.
However, while many people have been so excited about the possibility of things returning to ‘normal’, others might have forgotten what ‘normal’ actually feels like. We have all seen the memes and jokes about how poor our communication skills have become while being shut away, but for many these concerns are a lot more serious.
It is completely understandable that some people might not feel so prepared to leave the comfort of their own homes. Instead, the idea of returning to their pre-Covid fast-paced lives is a source of stress. In fact, a recent YoungMind survey highlighted that, out of those who participated, two-thirds believed the pandemic would result in long-term negative impacts on their mental health.
Just remember to take things slowly. You don’t need to dive in at the deep end straight away! For those that are experiencing these anxieties, then, the most important thing to remember is that you can still control the situation.
Just remember to take things slowly. You don’t need to dive in at the deep end straight away!
When it becomes possible, maybe start by simply meeting a few close friends for a chilled catch-up. That way you can begin to feel more connected to those you haven’t seen for a while without the pressure of having to meet so many new people. If you want to meet your friends in more public spaces but you’re still a bit nervous, I recommend visiting a local café. You could stick to the smaller independent coffee shops or restaurants, supporting their businesses after an economically hard year. You’ll also find that these places are probably quieter than the chain stores which makes them the perfect place to start.
Most importantly, remember to continue to take time for yourself. Once socialising with different groups becomes legal after so long, it could become easy to forget that not every hour of every day needs to be spent around people. Continue to prioritise self-care, even if that means staying indoors and recharging by watching a movie, or taking a daily walk (who knew that some lockdown habits might actually be beneficial?)!
I can guarantee that if you harbour concerns about the restrictions being lifted, you’re not the only person feeling this way. It is common to feel worried, even amongst those who are simultaneously excited (myself included). It will take time to adjust.
During these times, it is so important to be mindful of those around you, even when it seems people are the most hopeful they’ve been in a while.