It’s been over a year since our first UK lockdown in March 2020. Throughout the pandemic there have been many people that have struggled adjusting to these changes, for many reasons ranging from financial difficulties, lack of socialization or permanently functioning in the confinement of their home. That said, since then, there are also many people that have adjusted to this new lifestyle, and even enjoy it more than life before.
This article has been written for all those people looking for ideas on how to overcome stress or anxieties over returning to normal. I am not a doctor, nor am I qualified to provide you with professional advice. This article has been written from my perspective, based on my own experiences and lessons I have learnt.
We are all different and your anxieties will be for your own reasons, but the likelihood is that your anxiety is because you will need to face a fear that you’ve not had to face for quite some time or the fact that you’re going to have to go back to doing something you do not enjoy. I personally suffer with mild social anxiety. I am an introverted person and truth be told, I have had very few moments of missing socializing with others throughout this time, and no moments of missing speaking to people that I am not close with.
Below I will list a few tips I follow when trying to overcome my social anxieties. I do hope you find them useful and are able to reapply them to your own situation.
Generally, socializing for me is a bit of a chore. I try to visit my mum every weekend, before I go I always think to myself “maybe I should cancel until next weekend” but when I do go I always leave thinking “I’m really glad I went now”. Same with seeing friends, I loathe clubs, but even when we arrange to do things that I do enjoy I still get the urge to cancel, afterwards however, I’m always happy to have seen them.
I find that If I don’t force myself to socialize occasionally, the fear of socializing gets worse and can become quite overwhelming. Obviously, during the pandemic we were forced not to socialize in person to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for some, getting back into the swing of this will be difficult.
My recommendation would be to take baby steps. For me I will start by socializing with the people I am most comfortable with. If you live with someone, start by going out for food together and force yourself to speak to the waiter. Meet with your immediate family outside of yours or their home. By starting off with the people you’re close to you will find some comfort in what is an uncomfortable situation. The chances are you will even reflect on it and think “what was I so afraid of”.
If your fear is going back to work, speak to your employer and see if they will allow you a phased return. Alternatively, speak to your doctor to see if they have any further recommendations.
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When I was in secondary school, I made some great friends. This one year when we all broke up for the six-week holidays I didn’t see them at all during that break. As the first day back at school started to approach, I started to get nervous about going back to school. I thought about it that much that I convinced myself that my friends wouldn’t remember me. On the first day back, I walked through the school gates and I could see them all stood together on the playground and I was so scared of approaching them that I just walked past them. Then one of my friends shouted me over and I realized I had wasted days worrying about something that I did not need to worry about. Ever since then, although I can’t avoid worry, I make an effort to identify when I am over worrying.
When you have a fear, it is natural to overthink it and overthinking only gets worse when you keep it to yourself. Talk to a friend or family member. Worst case scenario you have a little moral support. Best case scenario, they will reassure you that things likely wont end up the way you imagine it.
I know, I hate it too. Actually, my partner is awful at providing reassurance when I’m feeling frumpy or overweight. Sometimes I will say to him “look at the size of my belly” (normal just after I’ve eaten). Obviously, I’m fishing for a compliment, but his response is always “oh know, maybe you should go for a run”. It’s a good job he’s nice to me the rest of the time 😊. Anyway, back on topic…
For most people, when they think about exercise, they think about loosing weight and the hard work that goes with it. Ignore that, see it only as a method for relaxing. Do only the exercise you want to do. You’re much more likely to stick it out and it can be a wonderful distraction. You will find that the more you do it the more positive you feel in general. You can also do it with others if this will help motivate you.
I mainly go for walks and occasionally opt for Yoga. I find it very therapeutic and a lovely distraction. Who knows, maybe soon I will even be able to touch my toes.
Find the time to continue doing things you enjoy.
During lockdown, I discovered some new and unexpected loves. Knitting, making candles & gardening. Just because life is going back to normal, doesn’t mean you have to give these new things up. You may have less time but do make time to do those things that you enjoy.
End the day relaxing with a glass of … cup of tea!
At this point I’m sure you’re all thinking “shut up Lauren, a cup of tea won’t help me”. You’re right of course, but in the end, nor does a glass of wine. I can think of many evenings when I have turned to the bottle of red on my countertop, and the next day I feel groggy and nauseous, which ultimately makes me feel worse.
Instead of turning to the bottle, spend five minutes creating a more relaxing environment. Run yourself a bubble bath, light some candles, pick a movie or read a book, brew yourself a relaxing drink. We created our Lavender Bliss tea specifically to help us relax because we were sick of getting to the evening and feeling like our only option was to have a glass of wine.
Funny story: The creation of our Lavender Bliss tea was in fact an accident. I dedicated a day to creating new loose leaf tea recipes. It was mid-day and I came up with this lovely recipe, so I decided to finish the cup (I don’t finish them all otherwise I would be full of tea). By the time I had finished I was due to go into a team meeting and I was so sleepy that I cant remember a thing from it and was ratty and agitated because I just wasn’t in the mood. After the meeting I just switched off and watched some TV and that was me done for the day. The next day I decided I had to sell it. People would love it.