There is no doubt in the fact that covid-19 has had an impact on everyone's lives and in turn their wellbeing. We were told to socialise less, most aspects of physical activity were canceled and the number of times we were allowed outdoors was cut. Everything changed for everyone and it was a weird and scary time for us all. Because of covid some of us may have/are experiencing new anxieties, less motivation, and longer periods of time where we feel low.
But it's OKAY for children and adults to be feeling this way!
Everyone will have had different experiences during the lockdown and the impact that it has had on each individual will be varied, however, all of us have reduced our social contact for the last year. As restrictions start to ease it is understandable that we will be worried about starting to socialise again. This doesn't mean we aren't excited to see family and friends it just means that we might be a little nervous about being in groups again, being aware of the social etiquette (for so long we haven't been able to hug or shake hands), and we might even be concerned about making sure we still feel safe.
For children and adults, it might be worrying thinking about returning to school or work as the everyday structures that you are used to, have changed. The same thing applies to going back to our hobbies or back to sports clubs. We will be anxious about the new rules that we need to follow or maybe we are just worried about talking to people again after spending such a long time indoors avoiding social situations.
So what can we do?
STEPS TO RE-SOCIALISATION
You can use these steps yourself and also encourage children to follow them.
KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Everyone has spent almost the last year isolating themselves from others and many people will be experiencing new social anxieties as the restrictions start to ease. Talk to someone about how you are feeling, chances are they might be feeling the same way. It might be helpful to talk to a supervisor, teacher, or coach and they can explain some of the new rules ahead of your arrival this way you will know what to expect. And remember you are not alone in this.
STEP BY STEP
There is a chance that everything will start again all at once and that can be very overwhelming. If you are worried about heading back into a social situation try meeting up with one friend first in a place that you feel comfortable with, you can gradually introduce more people or head to a cafe but do it at your pace. The same goes for sports instead of jumping back into all of your sports at the same time, you can start with one, if you feel okay you can introduce another.
Although we might not be totally comfortable at the time as we are slowly pushing ourselves to face our social anxieties, it is important that we feel as comfortable as we can be and we control the things that we can. It is important that we make others aware of what we are comfortable/uncomfortable with. For example, if someone suggests meeting at a cafe and you are not ready for this step make them aware that you would be more comfortable going for a walk. We also need to be considerate of others and not push them into uncomfortable situations.
TIME IT RIGHT
When you are ready to take that next step but you are still a bit worried about going back into shops, cafes, restaurants etc... You can try going at times when it is less busy. By avoiding the 'rush hour' times you will have more space and not have as many people to worry about. Remember all cafes and shops have put in place sanitising stations and a few rules to keep you and their staff safe.
We might also be worried about going back to sports because we have had so much time off, the right time to go back is up to you. Just remember that everyone is in the same position coaches and teachers will not be worried if you aren't as confident in the skills that you were before.
If you or your child is experiencing social anxiety regarding the return to school, work, or sport it can make us feel better to gain an understanding of how things are going to work. It never hurts to ask a colleague, teacher, friend, or coach what the changes might be. I am sure that they will be more than happy to offer you or a child support and explain the process. But you won't know if you don't ask!