Remember that first Spring out of lockdowns? We were eager for some normality to return with the summer months on the horizon, but we were also a little apprehensive - some of us were very apprehensive. While covid has by no means gone, we have been learning to live alongside it and it’s becoming easier to make those summer plans.
But you might not be feeling as eager as last year, you might have really enjoyed the slowed down lifestyle we adopted through the lockdown’s and the return to a bit more normality has left you longing for another lockdown (just without the stress and anxiety maybe). Or maybe you’ve already got a full calendar looking back at you, and you can feel the social fatigue building before it’s even begun.
We maybe didn’t love lockdown, some of us certainly enjoyed the slower pace and comfort that staying at home brought us, but so many of us were so eager to return we’re maybe feeling a little burnt out as we’ve rushed back to our full-on schedules and busy lifestyles, and to thinking about our futures again.
Maybe you felt like you had to rush back to lots of plans, holidays, or social events, and maybe that left you feeling just as anxious as we did going into the pandemic when everything was so uncertain and unprecedented. And the reason?
One might be that the part of our mind that is responsible for planning, organising, exploring possibilities, and pursuing our goals, (called executive function) had been sound asleep for so long - and building it back up hasn’t been so easy with the lasting effects of the stress in the first place.
Fret not! Martina Ratto, our frankly delightful Cognitive Scientist, shares some tips on how to face the new season of social gatherings and holiday planning without panicking (again):
Take baby steps
Take it one step at a time: keep building on those smaller more achievable plans. Plan shorter events more often, slowly build up your calendar at a pace you actually enjoy. Perhaps meeting friends for a catch up is only an hour or two but at least once a week, rather than the usual 5 hours stint once a month. Little and often you know?
It wasn’t all bad
Keep some of the lockdown routines which make us feel good. We’ve perhaps learnt to listen to some of our needs we weren't aware of before and have been practising a spot of self-care (the midday shower between zoom meetings, the leisurely paced breakfasts, the park walk instead of the commute). Whatever we’ve been pursuing in the last months, let’s keep the good stuff in this next chapter.
Blank pages in the calendar are ok, phew!
Take the opportunity of a clean slate: we don't need to dive back into all of our plans left from last summer. Accept some of them might have gone for good (and we might be thankful of that) and enjoy a new start. Take it easy, make plans if that feels right, but remember to leave some breathing space - planning a day to do nothing is a great form of self-care!
Learn to say “no”
This can be a tricky one. The gold standard remains “thanks for the invite, but I won’t make it”. We don’t need to give excuses or justify ourselves to anyone else. Each of us will still adjust to the new season in our own time. It’s fine to say “no” to invitations, including: baby showers, weddings, bar mitzvahs, picnics in the park, and Tango dancing (never again!).
Final thoughts: Be gentle with yourself. We might have been out of hibernation for a while but we are still all figuring out how to go out again, socialise more, make future plans - and there’s still an element of uncertainty. Need to shut yourself in a dark room and binge watch Netflix for a few days, maybe a week until you feel ready to face the world? Do it. We’re with you.