10 ways to ease your social anxiety for a post-pandemic summer
We sat inside and posted pictures of ruckus memories from our couches, using Instagram “likes” to replace hugs and handshakes. We reminisced about birthdays where we danced all night and “that one time in college when...” and all the fun and sweaty things suddenly outlawed when a global pandemic confined us to our living rooms.
We waited patiently for cases to drop, hospital paces to slow, and most importantly, for the time to tick onwards – knowing one day, things would get better.
Here we are, fourteen months since covid first began to matestize on US soil - and yet, we now face the strangest predicament of all. The “new normal” we all bemoaned for the past year - the zoom calls in bed and the long walks instead of long nights - maybe it isn’t as bad as we thought…
We don’t know about you guys, but the much anticipated post-vaccine life is kind of… overwhelming?
Here are 10 things you can do to ease your way into a post-pandemic social calendar:
- Reach out to your friends.
- We always feel more connected to our network when we are in some form of communication - even if it’s just a text. Try sending a couple “thinking of you” texts to people you care about. People will always appreciate a check in, and are more likely to think of you next time they’re making plans! Win, win, win, win.
- If an event is giving you anxiety (and trust me, social anxiety is a “thing” right now even if you’ve never experienced it before), create a pre-plan! Call up a friend and ask to make a plan to walk over together or to share a taxi. Have someone over to see your apartment before heading to the party. Grab a drink with a buddy before a first-date. Sometimes it’s the anticipation that messes us up, and as soon as we see another living-breathing-human and remember we can - in fact - make conversation, the anxiety dissipates. So ease your way into the night by having a friend hold your hand, physically or metaphorically.
- We are all grappling with and navigating post-pandemic life. We know there are challenges - days where you just might not feel like getting out of bed. Give yourself the opportunity to check your headspace closer to the date. “Hey, this plan sounds great. I’m looking at a long week, can we touch base day of?” In our experience, people prefer honest responses, rather than a last minute cancellation.
- Set your boundaries. You know yourself better than anyone. If a social plan isn’t sitting right, if it’s giving you the “ickies,” “bad vibes,” “heebie-jeebies,” you’re allowed to say no. Just because you aren’t doing anything, doesn’t mean you have to accept an invitation to do something else. If you’re worried you might let your host down, let them know how you’re feeling, and that you’d rather make a date with them 1-1. They’ll not only understand, but probably be flattered.
- We heard this in college, but hey, it’s still true. When we’re on edge or have social anxiety, we tend to look towards a drink. When our focus is around what we’re drinking and the infamous - “holding and refilling the cup,” because you have nothing else to do with your hands - we might end up drinking more than we had planned or feel comfortable with.
- If the sudden barrage of invitations to party (or lack thereof) is making you anxious – take control of the situation. Take initiative and make plans around activities that you already like doing, and that give you pleasure. Maybe it’s a yoga date, a plan to explore the newest smoothie bar, a walk-and-talk date - create a plan that you feel good about.
- LOL, this is an easy one. If what’s getting you down is the fact that the CDC restrictions are lifting and you don’t have plans for the summer, create them for yourself! Cook dinner for your friends. Everyone appreciates food, especially when it’s prepared by someone else! And they’ll be more likely to do the same for you.
- Ugh, we are already overwhelmed. Make sure you carve out time for yourself. Do not take it lightly that we have slowed our pace massively for the past year. The transition into social life is not like one we’ve ever experienced. So make sure you create time for yourself. Don’t overbook yourself, you need you as much as your friends do.
- Whether you’re fiending to be out at the club or Irish-exiting the event because you need to be alone -- be kind to yourself. We all handle transitions differently and everyone finds comfort through different channels. Respect where you’re at (and where your friends and loved ones are at), and the fact that the two might be different.
- If you’re feeling uneasy about life after covid, chances are, others are too. Let your friends know how you are. And check in on others. Being honest about your mental wellbeing with friends is supremely freeing, and more often than not, you will help someone realize that they aren’t alone in how they’re feeling either. At the end of the day, when we’re helping and connecting with others, we’re less likely to dwell in a negative headspace.