After eighteen months of largely being locked in our houses, many of us are gasping for social meets with mates like fish out of water. It’s hardly surprising, then, that even long-distance groups of friends made plans to meet as soon as freedom day became a glint on the horizon. Now, with those predetermined get-togethers coming closer at an astoundingly fast rate, it’s not unusual to feel a little nervous about what the future holds.
Some level of social anxiety is certainly to be expected after such long periods of isolation. If you’re feeling nervous about getting back out there, it’s worth considering the following tips to make sure that you settle straight back into socialisation like lockdowns never happened.
Tips for Being Stressed About Getting Together With Friends
Tip 1: Take time to understand where everyone stands
Social distancing rules and mixed messages throughout the pandemic have seen many of us feeling uncertain when it comes to social situations. Now, especially, understanding how to respect each other’s boundaries is becoming increasingly difficult. After all, while there’s nothing to say that you can’t hug each other, not everyone’s going to be comfortable with that. Whether you’re nervous about physical contact or one of your friends is, checking where everyone stands before meeting is the best way to avoid awkward situations that make everyone uncomfortable. If you’d rather not be hugged, make that known in a lighthearted way. Equally, if a friend makes the same stipulation, respect their wishes. Everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable, and making sure of that from the very beginning is an amazing way to break the ice that the pandemic has left over even familiar friendships.
Tip 2: Meet outside if you can
While it can feel as though there’s pressure to invite everyone around to your house now that you’re legally allowed to do so, this is a lot like jumping in at the deep end before you’ve learnt to swim. After all, as well as having to clean your house after so many months of not accepting guests, you’ll suddenly have to worry about entertaining. Take that pressure off by arranging to meet outside to start with, either in a restaurant/local bar or even in your garden where there’s far less pressure to get everything picture perfect. As well as helping to keep you all safe, this more mutual territory is guaranteed to keep everyone’s nerves that little bit more at bay.
Tip 3: Choose activities that take the pressure off
While you’re probably looking forward to a good catch up, your lack of social experience recently means that convo-heavy meetups could soon see you exhausted and struggling to keep up. Perhaps a better idea for this first meeting would be to arrange an activity that takes some pressure off the socialisation aspect. A spa weekend is a great example because it lets you all relax, get stuck into some pampering, and chat at the same time. Equally, something like a crafty get-together complete with candle making or even good old friendship bracelets provides a slight distraction for all of those nervous minds and hands. Either way, you should find that conversation flows more freely this way than it would if you were purely sitting down together for the sake of having a chat.
Tip 4: Remember that everyone’s in the same boat
Because all of our experiences of lockdowns and its lack of socialisation have been so internally focused, it’s easy to assume that you’re the only person feeling so nervous about getting back out there. In reality, though, even the extroverts among us are inevitably feeling some social anxiety right now. By remembering this, or even talking to your friends about these feelings outright, you should find that you start to feel more confident in emotions that are only to be expected. What’s more, even if conversation does stall (which is also totally fine right now!) you can always fall back on making a joke about how awkward you feel, knowing comfortably that your friends will understand what you mean 100%.
Even with freedom day finally upon us, it’s vital that we all take things at our own pace, especially where socialisation is concerned. If you don’t feel comfortable meeting up with anyone yet then just be open about that, and know that everyone will understand. If you do feel ready to finally dip your toes back into social waters, then taking these tips along for the ride could just help you to feel at ease as you do so.
What would you do if you are stressed about getting together with friends?