The thought of going on a night out, to festivals, travelling, socialising with friends and even just going to a café is so exciting! But at the same time, after a year of the pandemic, restrictions and being without ‘normal’ social interactions has left a lot of students with greater feelings of social anxiety and the anticipation of leaving lockdown is sort of nerve-racking.
It was initially very difficult to adjust to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns. As students, we were told to find a routine, eat well, exercise, stay connected and stay on top of our degree – while we were worrying about our family and friends and struggling with being away from home during this very tough and uncertain time. To say this last year has been more demanding and difficult for students is definitely an understatement.
We have all faced a lot of challenges this year and it has taken a lot of mental and emotional energy to get through. As we are hopefully nearing the end of the restrictions, the anticipation of the relaxation of the COVID rules is exciting but also daunting.
Here are some tips that may help if you are feeling anxious about the upcoming social interactions and freedom:
Pace yourself and don’t let others pressure you if you are nervous about socialising more; we have become comfortable with our own space and social distance, so it is okay to move at your own pace.
Challenge yourself to push yourself out of your comfort zone to ensure that you don’t become unintendedly isolated when your friends are starting to move forward and socialise more. If you can, make them aware of your situation and that you need time to move at a pace that is comfortable to you.
Try to maintain a healthy routine and habits that you developed during lockdown, but don’t criticise yourself if this doesn’t work for you. We all had to create coping mechanisms during the lockdowns.
Control what can be controlled – create an action plan if that helps, so you can manage your life and what you can influence. Remember that you can’t control how others behave but you can control how you respond.
Talk to people you trust if you are concerned about the anticipated social interaction, and it’s likely that they will confide in you too if they are feeling anxious or uncertain about the easing of restrictions.
Be kind to yourself and others; everyone is going through something whether you know what it is or not. And this year has been particularly difficult for everyone. A little kindness goes a long way.