The Covid-19 outbreak marked a new chapter in all aspects of our life, especially in social connections. And with the advent of vaccines, the situation seems to brighten up a bit. Once we get shots, we can gradually restore our previous lifestyle, meeting and spending more time with our friends.
Although a lot of people are excited, there is still a fear that we have become too socially awkward and cannot rebuild the friendship. If that is what has been plaguing your mind, you are not alone. The majority share the same concerns. So, instead of getting anxious, it is better to focus on actions to overcome our worries. What things do we need to keep in mind to make this transition seamless?
Allow yourself to feel worried
The immediate reaction when you feel anxious about meeting friends after a long lockdown is to deny the negative feelings and shut them down. But it only causes more anxiety to bottle up and put constraints in our interactions.
Instead, why don’t you take a chance to reflect on what you feel and look at the situation from another perspective: what situations cause you to feel overwhelmed? Is it only because of lack of communication or are there any other reasons? What can you and your friends do to alleviate it?
Accept that you feel bad. Embrace your internal concerns and try to look beyond them, to see the reasons behind them
Seek empathy from your friends
Try to have an open conversation about what concerns you with your friends. Be succinct and precise in your descriptions and listen to what your friends. Often when we are overwhelmed with anxiety, we tend to assume there is no one to listen to us, no one understands us. But in reality, everyone is going through the similar struggles of going back to a normal lifestyle. Your friends also share the same worries as you. So, reaching out to them and seeking empathy may have a positive impact on your mental health and strengthen your friendship.
Evaluate everyone’s comfort level
Another element to navigate is varying comfort levels people may have with re-entry into the world. Somebody who has been mainly isolated through the whole pandemic may not be ready to go into a crowded music festival; they may not be comfortable going into a really busy restaurant. So before making arrangements, discuss your feelings and worries with your friends. This also goes the other way round: be open about your personal boundaries and needs, inform your friends if big gatherings cause you any discomfort.
Be open to changes.
A lot happened during the pandemic that had a significant influence in our lives and on our personality. Your friends might also have changed in one way or another. They might have experienced lockdown completely differently from you. That’s why it is important to be open to the changes in your friends. Do not expect that your friendship will be the same, instead cultivate flexibility so that you will be able to rebuild your bond.