We Are Wellbeing’s Fitness and Nutrition coach Kathryn Brown runs us through her five essential tips to navigating social situations post-COVID.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we faced cancelled plans, were told to work from home, and our social lives took a big hit in order to fight the spread of the virus. For some, this might have started as a welcome relief, more time at home and finally an excuse to turn down unwanted invitations. For others, the lack of interaction sparked an immediate feeling of despair. Either way, multiple lockdowns, rules around socialisation, and endless Zoom and Teams calls is likely to have had a big impact on all of us. It is enough time for us to change our habits and behaviours, and we may feel anxious about the return to pre-pandemic life.
You may be thinking; ‘but what if I’m happy and don’t have any desire to return to pre-Covid levels of socialisation?’. That’s not necessarily a problem, our values might have changed and we may have re-assessed what’s important to us. But, whilst it may feel tempting to shy away, social interaction is a fundamental human need, and the longer we put it off, the harder it will become.
As the World opens up and things return to ‘normal’, it is perfectly ok to feel overwhelmed and apprehensive about social situations. Whether it’s a family gathering, a delayed wedding, or simply bumping into a colleague at the coffee machine, there are ways we can ease ourselves in.
5 tips to being social post-COVID
1. Accept and expect some anxiety
Firstly, it is important to remember that you are not alone for feeling this way. A lack of confidence and some worry is to be expected, it may take time and practice to build social skills back up, and you should do so at your own pace. Putting undue pressure on yourself is only likely to make it feel more difficult.
2. Be aware of your thoughts
Recognising and acknowledging your thoughts and anxieties can be a great first step. We often predict outcomes, which can lead to negative thought patterns, and it is about breaking this cycle. If you catch yourself thinking; ‘I’m know I’m going to say something silly if I go to this event’, try using positive affirmations and re-shaping the thought to; ‘I can do this and I don’t need to be perfect’.
3. Set small goals
Everyone moves at a different pace, and there is no right or wrong. Post-pandemic, some people will have been raring to go, but many of us will want to ease ourselves back in to social situations. Setting small goals can help us to build confidence in a way which is comfortable to us. Try writing a list of things you would like to achieve, for example; ordering a coffee, going to the gym, spending a day in the office and speaking up in a
meeting. Challenge yourself to tick them off, you will probably see that the situation isn’t as bad as you thought!
4. Make a plan
Planning ahead can make us feel more in control of a situation. Writing a list of what you need to do prior to an event, what you need to take, and researching the route can help to remove some of the worries and make it more enjoyable. If you are concerned about contracting Covid, you can find out what precautions are in place prior to the event.
5. Avoid comparison
Finally, everyone moves at a different pace, and as Theodore Roosevelt once said; ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. When it comes to re-integrating yourself into society, try not to compare yourself to what others are doing, this isn’t a race. Try to limit anything which leads you into the comparison trap, such as social media, and focus on your own journey.
Although some uncertainty is normal, social anxiety, also known as social phobia, can be more serious. If you feel an overwhelming fear of social situations which is having a big impact on your life, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. You can speak to your GP or see if your employer has access to confidential counselling.