It feels like we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel after a very difficult year of quarantine. States are beginning to fully reopen as more citizens are vaccinated and cases are declining. It is great, it really is, but life after lockdown can be intimidating. Going from a nearly empty schedule to one jam-packed with work, school, and social events can be overwhelming. Most people have spent the past year in their own homes without face-to-face social interactions with anyone besides immediate family and close friends. Now, how do we just jump right back into what used to be the “norm?”
Talking to a few friends about this subject, it appears we all have the same sentiment. We used to be outgoing individuals, but now we find ourselves more introverted than extroverted. We loved busy coffee shops, socializing at parties, or getting to know someone one-on-one. Obviously, since lockdown began, we have not been in as many social settings as we used to be. Trying to readjust back to making conversation and staying engaged is honestly draining. I find my social battery extremely low after one coffee date when a year ago I would have been fine. It is difficult to find the motivation to leave the house even though that is what we have all been dreaming of since quarantine began. If you are feeling emotionally drained from isolation, it is completely normal! Many therapists have had an increase in clients during the lockdown and have formed many helpful tips to stay afloat during these unprecedented times.
The main point many psychotherapists are trying to relay to those feeling socially overwhelmed is to recognize that you aren’t alone. So many people are feeling awkward or stand-offish as we all try to navigate social cues and norms. You may feel as though you are acting completely different and not yourself, but those around you honestly do not even notice a thing. We all are psychoanalyzing every social situation way more than we used to. Psychotherapists recommend easing back into the social scene. It is okay to start small and grow. Limiting the group size and time out of the house can help relieve some stress. No one is expecting you to feel 100% yourself right off the bat. I mean, we have all been basically living under a rock for a year, so give yourself a break.
Even though we are all in a rush to socialize and fill our time with plans, it is important to remember to practice self-care. When you feel overwhelmed or tired, call it a night. It is better for you emotionally to take a break than trying to immediately assimilate back into a “normal” social life. It feels counterintuitive to say take some alone time when that has been our entire year, but it is easy to forget that we still need that in our daily routine. Psychotherapists emphasize allocating time to recharge alone along with time to socialize.
Above all, just be patient. Going into lockdown was a crazy adjustment and coming out is going to be just the same. Take things slowly, stay safe, and be forgiving to yourself!