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Rebooting connections: rediscovering the joy of socialising in a post-pandemic era

The panic-ridden days of lockdown and constant Coronavirus updates seem to be behind us, but the virus and the impacts of it are by no means over. Since having to isolate, following stay-at-home orders, adjusting to a WFH routine, how are your social skills? Many of us feel like we’ve forgotten how to talk to our friends, can’t think of things to do without feeling overwhelmed by an outing, and struggle to keep our social batteries fully charged all night. And it’s taking a toll on our mental health, so keep reading to find out what you can do to rebuild those social skills and reconnect!

Throughout the pandemic, we became aware of the impact loneliness can have on our mental health. Whether you experienced it first hand, saw it in colleagues or friends, or read the masses of advice on how to prevent the social isolation hammering our wellbeing. But in a post-pandemic era, that hasn’t been the easiest ride to endure, the effects might still be hanging around, with many of us feeling lonely, unsatisfied when we try to connect with people, and leading to low mood and anxiety.

When you’re out and about, catching up with friends, seeing the family, even back at the office and being with colleagues again, can you focus on the conversations? Can you pay your full attention to them or is your mind wandering? Are you running through a checklist of questions to show your interest, rather than having authentic communication? Do you dread going to the pub knowing it’ll be too loud to hear yourself never mind everyone else?

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Post-pandemic socialising is causing many of us to feel disconnected and detached from our friends and family, even when we see them as often as possible or feel like we talk all the time. We might not be finding satisfaction in our relationships (not because we don’t like them or need to move on necessarily), but because we’re still processing the past few years, trying to get back to where we were, and figuring out how a social life looks with the cost of living crisis in tow.

Whether you’re longing to reconnect with your loved ones, feel like branching out and finding new connections, or aren’t really sure what’s got in between you and your relationships, we’ve got some tips for you:

Reflect on your values and interests: Consider what activities, hobbies, or causes align with your personal values and interests - these might have changed a little over the years. Engaging in activities that genuinely interest you increase the likelihood of meeting like-minded individuals who can become potential friends or social connections.

Let conversations flow to show genuine interest in others: When engaging in conversations, practise active listening and using open-ended questions to encourage conversation, and if you can’t think of anything to say use your body language to encourage them to continue - nodding along, maintaining eye contact, facing them directly.. Showing curiosity and empathy helps build deeper connections with others.

Nurture existing relationships: Reconnecting with your social life also involves strengthening existing relationships. Reach out to friends, family members, or acquaintances you have lost touch with and suggest catching up. Have open communication about how you are both feeling and resolve any feelings of distance or frustration.

Practise good communication skills: You might be thinking you’ve made it this far, what could possibly be wrong with your communication skills? They could be fine, but many of us don’t always notice when we roll our eyes accidentally or check our watch mid-convo, or jump in with our point too. Hone in on those skills like active listening, being mindful and aware of yourself, and allowing others to speak freely.

Be patient and proactive: Building satisfying connections takes time and effort. Be patient with the process and don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen immediately. Take the initiative to invite people for social activities and maintain consistent communication to foster the growth of your connections. And be compassionate with yourself and others, we’re all in it together and we move at different paces, don’t rush yourself or anyone else!




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