22 Jun

COVID-19 restrictions and returning from social isolation

Person holding white tube in hands

Did you find social isolation hard at first but now you’re surprised to find you’re feeling a bit unsure about returning to normal? You are not alone.

It turns out that lots of us are quite anxious about restrictions easing and being around people in the same way as before – in crowded shopping centres, restaurants, bars, using public transport etc.

Some people have realised during COVID that they have actually enjoyed less social interaction in many respects and that they may even be more introverted that they thought making a return to normal feel anxiety provoking. Others may be feeling very worried about the health side of things and exposure to germs.

The best thing we can to is to take is slowly. Reconnect with friends and family as we are able to, see how we are feeling, and then take things from there. We don’t need to return to normal all at once.

“People might be feeling they’ve got to make up for lost time,” says Dr Norris, a clinical psychologist who is an expert in reintegration. “That’s the worst thing we can be doing.”

We’ve prepared some other tips to help you navigate ‘re-integration’:

  1. Take time to reflect on what has worked for you during isolation: have you enjoyed spending more time alone, or as a family unit, away from lots of socialising or large groups? There’s no reason why you can’t continue to make these things a priority. It’s a valid choice for your life.
  2. Be gentle with yourself, it’s ok to have mixed feelings about returning to the way things were.
  3. What are some healthy ways to reduce anxiety when you’re experiencing it? It could be taking a nap, doing a guided meditation, going for a run or a walk, getting out into nature, deep breathing, baking or reading. Do what works for you, that’s the important thing.
  4. Remember, ‘this too shall pass’. Feelings are not facts and while they need to be honoured, they are not permanent.
  5. Do things that continue to make you happy or to laugh. Taking the kids to the park, watching a comedy, bantering with your close friends. This can help distract and refocus us on the positive if we are overthinkers.
  6. There are lots of online tools online such as Beyond Blue or Head to Health. Or talk to a friend, they may well be feeling the same way!

Finally, here’s a couple of great articles on the topic.