It’s good to mingle, socialize and be doing things again
By Melissa Stefanec
“This pandemic has made us realize how much the people in our lives matter to us. From family, to friends, to neighbors, to coworkers, to acquaintances and strangers, we discovered we need each other.”
At this point, most of us miss people. Even the most introverted or curmudgeonly among us have shed many of our anti-social tendencies over the past year and half. This pandemic has made us realize how much the people in our lives matter to us. From family, to friends, to neighbors, to coworkers, to acquaintances and strangers, we discovered we need each other.
However, many of us spent more than a year being isolated or socially distanced from most other human beings. As people start getting vaccinated and we resume some portions of our pre-pandemic lives, real-life interaction can feel unnatural.
If you’re having some difficulties re-entering the world you once knew, you aren’t alone. For many people, the social anxiety that flared during the pandemic doesn’t immediately disappear after you get a vaccine and the restrictions are lifted.
If you’re one of those people, here are some ideas for re-entering society. Using tactics that work for you can help re-acclimation be a joyous occasion. On a side note, if you’re having a lot of difficulties, you should talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional. They can help you devise a helpful and healthy plan.
• Talk to people about your boundaries — As you start to gather with people again, talk to those people about your boundaries. If you aren’t up for large gatherings, ask the host how many people will be there. If you want to be in control, set up an event where you’re the only one who invites people. Respect your own boundaries and expect others to do the same.
• If vaccination status is important to you, ask about it — If you don’t feel safe being around unvaccinated people, ask for people’s vaccine statuses. If they don’t want to share that information, make a judgment call. Do what is right for you. Your loved ones should understand, even if they don’t agree.
• Visit places where there are a lot of people (but where you can keep your distance) — If you’re ready for people but not quite ready to socialize, you can try an outdoor event or a large indoor open space where there are numerous people. Not having to engage with these people might help you reacclimate to large groups.
• Embrace outdoor events — Outdoor events can be a great segue for returning to society. Fresh air and open spaces can really help a person feel safe. Things like outdoor markets, outdoor dining or parks and hiking trails might be a good place to start.
• Gather with people whom you trust — Sometimes, it just makes sense to start small. If you’re nervous about being around a lot of people, start with people whom you trust to respect your wishes and boundaries. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
• Understand that you can’t control your environment — If you venture outside of your home, you’re no longer in control of your environment. So, assume a level of risk that is appropriate for your tolerance. Understand that you don’t live in a risk-free world. When you’re out and about, people will do things you’re uncomfortable with, because we all have different comfort levels. Try your best to control the controllables and let other things slide.
• Feel empowered to turn down invitations — If you aren’t ready to attend a specific event, don’t attend it. Give yourself leeway as you reacclimate to social events and outings. If you aren’t up to it, now more than ever, it’s perfectly acceptable to politely decline an invitation.
• Think of your favorite things to do, and make them into your bucket list —If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to get out there again, make a favorite’s list. Create a bucket list for 2021 and put all of your pre-pandemic favorite things on it. When you’re ready, start checking off the things that make you happy.
• Make plans in the very near future — Now that you have some ideas, make some plans. Don’t make those plans for weeks out; that will give you time to agonize over them. Instead, make plans for a small and accomplishable outing and do that thing. Sometimes, you just have to shed the fear and embrace life.