How to get going the post-lockdown world

After a year and a half of no hugging (?), limited access to pubs and restaurants, and not a lot of socialising (to say the least!), the idea of attending a gig or going to the theatre is, to many, although liberating, perhaps also terrifying.

According to a survey by the US Census Bureau in December 2020, more than 42% of people reported symptoms of social anxiety, an increase from 11% the previous year. So how do we bring these soaring figures back down, and what are the best ways to deal with possible post-lockdown stress? Is a dry run to a pub on our own the best way to handle the heat, or should we throw ourselves in at the deep end and attend an 18,000 people festival for 3 days? Personally, I’m aiming to find a happy medium!

As things have now reopened fully, and people are reunited after months behind closed doors, social anxiety is bound to affect many of us. For university students who have completed a year without face-to-face teaching, nightclubs or pubs, the excitement to get back to normal life may be tinged with a touch of apprehension and maybe some awkwardness. An in-person lecture at university, until 18 months ago a totally normal occurrence, is now ‘whaaaaat’.

A good and straightforward way to cope with the sudden (ish) return to ‘normal’ life – if you find it challenging - is to stick to a routine. Whilst most people’s day-to-day routine fell out the window during lockdown, and meetings or seminars in pyjamas and days on end spent inside became the norm, it is important to try and regain that feeling of routine and purpose again now that things have reopened. By creating a structured routine for ourselves, whether at school, university or working, we can reassert a little control over what has otherwise been a totally unprecedented time. It’s important to remember however that we simply can’t control everything and trying to come to terms with that as we begin flocking back to pubs and classrooms is a good rule to go by.

Whilst my flatmates and I tried, in a moment of frivolous panic before our first outing to a restaurant, a trial run at home, I wouldn’t advise this! With one house mate acting ‘the waitress’ and another ‘the chef’, our dry run ended with all three of us in hysterics, and none of us any the wiser for our outing back into the big bad world. My advice would be to get yourself out there as soon as you can, and take things at your own pace, one day at a time. Whether it’s re-joining a sports club, going to the theatre with your family, or grabbing a coffee with a friend, you’ll soon find your pre-lockdown pulse again. And who would have thought we would have to get used to ‘normal’ life again. It is almost absurd!

But ultimately, if you’ve felt stressed and anxious coming out of lockdown, take faith in the fact that you are most certainly not alone. Stay positive, enjoy what you can do now and live in the present.

Lastly, remember, feelings of anxiety don’t last forever and some fences are certainly of our own making.

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