Although we’re still in a pandemic, the world is starting to open up more. People are becoming vaccinated and returning back to their pre-pandemic lives. But even though that’s what we all wanted, we spent over a year adjusting to pandemic life. We got comfortable with our work-from-home schedules, attending less social gatherings, and spending more time at home. Now that things are opening up, more and more is being expected of us. Whether it’s going back to the office or visiting friends and family, it’s giving some people anxiety. Just remember, we don’t have to go back to exactly the same life as before. You get to decide what your post-pandemic life looks like!
Anxiety & Going Back to Work
Many of us have been working from home for the last year. If you are being asked to go back to the office and feel uncomfortable or unsafe doing so, talk to your boss or supervisor about your concerns. See if you can continue working from home. If you found that working from home was more productive and works better for you, say something. Just have the conversation and express yourself. If you can demonstrate in measurable ways that you’ve been more productive, show that to your boss. If they say you can’t continue working from home, you have a decision to make: you can either go back to work in-person or find a new job with more flexibility.
While there are definitely positives of returning back to “normal,” many people are starting to feel the social pressures of busy schedules, visiting everyone they haven’t seen in a long time, and spending time with others in close physical proximity when they’re not quite ready to. You may have gotten accustomed to quarantine and a slower-paced life. Over the last year we were able to determine our own schedules for the most part. Introverts no longer had to make up excuses not to hang out. Now a lot of us are feeling pressured to get back to our pre-Covid social schedules… and feeling anxious.
Ways to Minimize Social Anxiety
Be open and honest with your comfort level regarding Covid and how busy you are. If you’re not ready to fill your schedule with social activities, you don’t have to. Communicate how you feel with your friends and family. You don’t have to sacrifice yourself to please everyone else.
“Me Time” is Allowed
Free time does not equal available. If you don’t have anything scheduled over the weekend, that doesn’t mean you have to fill it with social activities. If you enjoyed the slow-paced life of quarantine, you can continue to do that. You don’t have to give yourself anxiety by trying to attend every event, party, or family trip. Give yourself permission to say no, even if you don’t have other plans and feel like relaxing at home instead.
Make time for self-care. Be in tune with what your body and mind are telling you. If you start to feel stressed or anxious, take some time to relax. Carve out time to meditate, exercise, read, do yoga, or whatever helps keep you stay calm. Prioritize your needs and emotional wellness.
Time: It will take some time to adjust back to normalcy. So if you need extra time, set boundaries. If you are planning on visiting friends or family, set a time limit. Carve out time for self-care, alone time, or time for whatever else you want to do. It’s important to know your limit and when “enough is enough.” If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of attending a social gathering, don’t do it! It’s acceptable to decline the invitation, just be honest to your friends and yourself. At any point along the way you can decline the invitation and turn back or leave early. Do what’s right for you and don’t feel pressured into doing something that sacrifices your mental health.
Physical Contact: Everyone has a different level of comfort when it comes to physical contact… even before the pandemic. You get to determine what you feel comfortable doing or not doing. If you want to wear a mask, not shake hands or hug, or only see vaccinated people, that’s your choice. Communicate your comfort level with others so they know what to expect. You do not have to do anything you’re not comfortable doing.
Don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do. People may push and ask, but set boundaries and stick to them!
Don’t Feel Guilty
Your friends and family may pressure you into seeing them since it may have been a long time. Or perhaps you are pressuring yourself to squeeze everyone in. You don’t have to make up for lost time and rush back into seeing everyone. Don’t self-sacrifice to please others. It’s important to put yourself first and to not worry about pleasing everyone (or anyone!). Take your time getting back into “normal” life. Life is precious – including yours. Do what feels right to you.
The most important thing you can do is to communicate your needs and let your friends and family know how/if they can help. During this time, we are all still feeling the stress of the pandemic (and returning to “normal”) – we don’t have to add feelings of guilt to that. Remember – be kind and compassionate to yourself.
If You are a Social Butterfly
If you are a social butterfly and have been waiting eagerly to get vaccinated so you can get back out there, remember not everyone feels the way you do. Not everyone’s social meters are the same. Be understanding of others and that they may need more time. If you are a very social person, understand if your friends and family members want more time to themselves. We’re all struggling in different ways. This time shouldn’t be considered a test of your relationships, but a time to practice understanding and compassion. Don’t take it personally if you want to hang out and the other person isn’t ready. Give them space, just as you might need others to do the same for you at some point. We’ve all been accustomed to taking things slow, so not everyone in your life might be at the same speed or comfort level as you to get back into the swing of things.
Therapy Can Help Reduce Your Anxiety
If you find the idea of getting back to normal overwhelming, if you’re scared to say no to your friends or family, or if you need help making time for self-care, therapy can help you feel less anxious. Therapy can be beneficial for everyone, even if you don’t have a diagnosable mental illness. If you live in Florida, contact Dr. Heather Violante online or call (754) 333-1484 to learn more about how therapy is a great way to feel less overwhelmed and more in control.