Feeling anxious about post-COVID life?
I know I am…
It’s been over a year since the first lockdown. For many of us, it’s been a year since we’ve been able to freely meet up with friends. A year since we’ve seen colleagues. A year since we have had to do anything remotely ‘normal’ when it comes to human interaction and socialising. After spending the past 12 months communicating with people mostly from behind a screen, it’s only natural to feel a little apprehensive about socialising in person, right?
Depending on where you live in the world, you may have already experienced returning to normality. Here in Wales, that’s still a hurdle that we need to overcome. Soon (we hope) lockdown restrictions will be eased and those social calendars will start to fill back up again. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am so excited for this.
I am excited for food and drinks with friends. I am excited to put on any clothing that is not activewear or loungewear. I just want to dance, have fun and soak up every inch of the things I once took for granted. I am quite literally counting down the days until I can go to a music gig (at this point, I think hearing a drunk person on karaoke would make me emotional) and I am so ready to be in the company of people. Real people, in person, not via zoom. However, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Going from spending most of my time alone (or just with the immediate family members in my bubble) to having what I hope will be busy social life, is quite daunting.
I think everyone knows just how much the pandemic has impacted peoples mental health and I don’t think its over yet. I’m sure once extroverted people are now feeling more introverted. I think there are many people who are worried about getting back out there and mixing with others. This has not been just a few weeks; it has been an entire year. An entire year to get accustomed to your own company. For people that commute to work, there is a good chance you’ve not even been on public transport in that time. It sounds like a small thing, but as someone who has once experienced anxiety during my work commute, this is a concern I have. Going from working at home in your own personal space to moving back into an office (or wherever it is you work) is going to be huge.
For me, my biggest challenge will be trying to adapt to working in a city again. Being surrounded by people all the time and trying to learn how to be part of that world. I know it sounds silly, but it seems so alien to me now. I’ve spent so much of the past year by myself, wandering mountains for hours and only coming across sheep. I find it hard to visualise being in a busy crowd these days.
I love people. I love meeting new people – it’s a big part of my job and one of the things I am excited to do again, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried. What is it going to be like? Have physical greetings gone forever? No more shaking hands? No more hugs to say hello and goodbye (those of you that know me will smile here I’m sure, as for me this is probably a positive thing – I’m not that into hugs) But even still, all of these habits that we once had, may now be changed.
And I don’t know about anyone else, but any social interaction I have had has been filled with such enthusiasm, I then feel worried about being that overly excited annoying person and honestly, I probably am a little. I can’t help but get excited and dive into things, it’s in my nature – it was pre-pandemic but those parts of my personality have only become enhanced since lockdown. I guess it’s because I don’t have other people around to help me pick up on those social cues. I am operating at Beth level enthusiasm and whilst I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, I know that to ease back into social situations, I am going to need to dial back on that a little.
I am in this weird place where I want to throw myself into every social situation possible but I also really don’t want to feel obligated to say yes to everything. I am content with not mixing with people right now but I also really miss mixing with people. I can’t be the only person feeling this confused, surely?
There is so much unknown and I think that’s where the anxiety comes from, at least it does for me. I always question myself and overthink things (as evident in this article) In normal social situations, some of these worries are eased or disappear completely. Being around people often highlights that we all have these feelings sometimes and that its ok. Unfortunately, we have not had that luxury recently and trying to navigate these emotions alone, can be quite the challenge.
I don’t want this article to sound negative, as that is not my intent. I am looking forward to whatever may come in the next few months. To taste that first pint of cider from a pub, instead of my fridge – my mouth is watering already. I think the world needs some type of normality now, but I do hope that it’s not the normality we knew before. This past year has taught us all so much. We’ve become more grateful; we appreciate the smaller things and despite all the bad I think there has been an overwhelming amount of good. Even though I still have my struggles, my mental health is now in such a good place and in a weird way, I do think lockdowns have contributed to that. So, whatever happens I hope we can all take forward the positive things we’ve gained. Always make time for self-care, always invest in yourself and never take your family and friends for granted. People need people. Even introverts. If you are worried about socialising again, just know this, you are not alone. Let’s ease ourselves in. let’s be kind to ourselves and each other. We don’t need to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves and we can admit to being scared. I think everyone will be, in their own way.
For now though, let’s just take one day at a time.
Thanks for reading…