PICKING UP OUR SOCIAL LIVES AGAIN!

  • July 13, 2021
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If you agreed with me last week, we have all collectively been through a traumatic experience in the past one year of COVID-19 Pandemic. Let me break it down. Due to the devastating pandemic of the last 18 months, people have been through an event or something that we found threatening or highly stressful that we needed to find ways to cope with or respond to. As some countries begin to open due the availability of the vaccines, we need to prepare to the fact that adjusting to the end of lockdown might be as hard for some of us, like it was adjusting at the beginning of lockdown. So, this leads us to attempting to answer the big questions on how do we prepare to pick up our social lives again?

Question 1: How to prepare for the end of lockdown?

Even as I delve into this topic of preparing for the end of lockdown, I would like to point out that even though some countries are beginning to open due the availability of vaccines, we should not forget that some countries are still struggling with keeping down the number of infections and getting vaccines for their populations. Therefore, it is worthy of note that we are not safe until the whole world is safe.

From a recent CNN tweet, the US added 850,000 jobs in June 2021. This number is far more than the economists had expected. However, America’s labor market is still far from being back to normal. It is down 6.8 million jobs compared with February 2020. Also, At the EU level, comparing 2019 and 2020 reveals that the number of employed people usually working from home greatly increased from 5.4 % to 12.3 %.  This shows that though countries are beginning to open, majority of us are still very far from getting back to life as we know it before COVID-19. Notwithstanding, let us look at the positive side. We still have some time to think and prepare on how to pick up our social lives again.

Question 2: Why do we need to prepare for the end of lockdown?

The reason why it is going to be hard adjusting to the end of lockdown for some of us, just like it was as hard adjusting at the beginning of lockdown is that we as humans hate change.Psychologists tell us that it takes between 18 days to 254 days and an average of 66 days to form a new habit. This means that most of us have adjusted and formed new habits over the past year. In fact, we are one in way or another feeling comfortable with lockdown as a new way of life. Some of us have even found a better, more efficient, more economical, etc., way of doing life (or so you believe). So, it is expected to be normal that we would resist another change.

According to psychologists, change is not an event like Action = to reaction’. It is not that easy;it is a psychological experience, and therefore it is difficult. In our situation of coming out of lockdown, it is even more complicated because there are a lot of conflicting information about our safety.

Here are three things that make us hate change.

1. When change is a shock and we are not ready: If a change is big and unexpected our first reaction is shock, then denial.
2. When change brings uncomfortable feelings: As humans we are happy and safe in our comfort zone; what we are used to.
3. When we do not know what the future looks like and that is scary: This is important and affects you especially if you are helping others to change.

Here are suggestions that experts are giving on how we should prepare for the change:

1. Be prepared in our minds to the fact that just as it took us time to find ways of coping during lockdown, it might also take time to find our way back into social life and reconnect with life outside of our homes again. This is because, things may not be the same as they were before.
2. Be prepared in our minds that, to the fact that the much-anticipated changes and readjustment might be difficult for our mental health just as it was when we went into lockdown.
3. Be prepared in in the event of social anxiety disorder (that is – being afraid and anxiety of social situations like how to act in groups of friends, or groups of family, or worrying about meeting strangers, or generally feeling selfconscious.
i. Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that these feelings of fear and anxiety are reasonable, and to expect them. 
ii. Secondly here are five tips of what you can do to prepare to overcome social anxiety disorder:
a. Do not make lots of plans, go out at your own pace: Take it step by step, and only do what is comfortable and safe for you to ease back into socializing.
b. Do not avoid things entirely: Avoiding the things that make us anxious can sometimes feel like the easier option in the short term, but this can make it harder to start facing our fears in the longer term. Instead, try to set yourself small but manageable targets like meeting one person for a coffee or snack outside.
c. Take care of your mental health: Develop new routines, stay connected, eat well, and exercise . During lockdown, we all adjusted by developingnew routines. Even now its just as important to develop new routines to go out of lockdown.
d. Plan social occasions: Uncertainty can be hard to manage but making plans can help you avoid this.
e. Focus on the present: you can only do your best with what you have today. With regulations changing frequently, and lots of conflicting media discussions, try and keep a focus on the moment and get your information from the right sources. 

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