I’m not going to lie, during a couple of weeks back in the spring, when my husband and I were really into the habit of working from home, then relaxing on the couch while watching Netflix most evenings, the thought of being social and having 3 or 4 social plans over the course of a weekend, started to cause me anxiety. Those of you who know me, know that I’m a true extrovert who loves being around people. Being social is how I usually get my energy! Yet life during the pandemic became a comfortable bubble with many of us tucked away in social isolation for over a year. When it looked like that bubble was about to burst, the thought of reverting back to many of our social habits was terrifying for many of us.

Being Social is How Humans Survived

Don’t let being social scare you; humans are meant to socialize. Evolution created a need for social contact in humans, it helped us survive. Without the support of social systems in ancient times, most individuals in a tribe would fall prey to nature’s elements – predators, or lack of food or water. Although things have changed in today’s times, most people still have a biological instinct to connect with a social network.

If you are isolated from other people for an extended period of time, you often end up feeling awkward, socially anxious, and unable to tolerate what used to feel like normal social situations. Even talking with a co-worker or a grocery store clerk can start feeling like a stressful effort. Loneliness can translate into feeling angry, tired, irritable, or sad. So what’s the best, least stressful way to get yourself out into the social world again?

3 Tips to Being Social Once Again

1. Participate in situations that feel safest to you.

Start by seeing people you are closest to, who you saw the most before the pandemic. And socialize in settings that you were able to even partially maintain during Covid-19. For example, if you still occassionally went for outdoor walks with friends over this past year and a half, add a walk into your first few social encounters. This time of year is perfect for walking, you could even turn your walk into a speed walk to obtain more exercise benefits.

2. Socialize for a limited amount of time at first.

Your social limits may have shifted over the past year and a half. For example, you might not be able to tolerate weeklong houseguests right away, whereas in the past, guests would not have bothered you. It’s easiest if you don’t throw yourself into a weekend getaway with a group of acquaintances off the bat. Keeping visits to a few hour maximum is usually easiest to ease your way back into the social scene. Also avoid making too many plans all at once. One event over the course of a weekend may be all you can handle at first.

3. Start communicating with your friends right now.

Even if it feels awkward, start talking , emailing, texting and seeing friends regularly – this week. It helps to block off time each day to write a text or email and make a phone call. When you are speaking to people, get them talking too. Ask open-ended questions and really pay attention to what they say, versus what you’re going to say next. Chances are, your friends are feeling the same way as you, so they’ll feel much better when you show that you actually care about them, through active listening.

If you used to spend time with someone who drained your energy before the pandemic, recognize that your relationship may not have been ideal. Use this unique time to ‘weed your garden’ as my Mom says, or let that person go. Surround yourself with people who fill you up; those who make you grow and feel good.

Try being social with people who make you feel great!

To Sum it up…How to Socialize After a Period of Isolation

Life became a comfortable, isolated bubble for many of us, as we tucked ourselves away in social isolation during the pandemic. When it looked like this bubble was about to burst, the thought of reverting back to many of our social habits was terrifying for many of us. Don’t let being social scare you; we are meant to socialize, we need it for survival. Participating in social settings you’re most familiar with and socializing for a limited amount of time, can help you get into the social scene with less anxiety. Build up your communication skills by focusing on active listening, as you reach out to your loved ones this week.

I’d love to hear how your next few social encounters go guys…