Stressed out woman twisted up in phone cords with three handsets being offered to her

Stressful post-COVID schedule? You’re not alone.

With social activities opening up after COVID, many of us want to “make up for lost time” and see friends we haven’t been able to see for months, and get kids (and ourselves) back into activities. However, it’s also easy to feel like it’s too much to go back to our pre-COVID schedules, even if you’re not one of the millions of people who suffer from social anxiety. Many people report feeling completely overwhelmed by the rapid acceleration as things have started opening up. Building a balanced social schedule can be challenging when you feel pressured to do it all! Here are four helpful tips to help keep you from getting too overwhelmed by your post-COVID schedule.

It’s normal to feel this way

It is so normal to feel like your social life is going to overwhelm you after COVID. Even a few social engagements may be more than you’ve had to contend with, and particularly with breakthrough cases and the Delta variant translating to ongoing risk, it’s important to take time for yourself as you rebuild your life. You’re certainly not the only one feeling overwhelmed– it’s a common thread among families as social engagements have snapped back quickly after states have opened up again.

Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

Keep your social groups smaller (at least for now)

Especially since we’ve been conditioned to keep our social groups small for so long, being in large groups can feel particularly overwhelming. One way to reduce the stress level is to keep your social groups small, at least for now. Be selective about who you invite to outings, and start with smaller groups than you may have invited in a pre-COVID world. This also helps you remember to prioritize those people closest to you, who really matter most in your life!

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Make time for self-care

Self-care is a critical part of life regardless of a pandemic, but the heightened anxiety and grief during COVID has made it even more critical to make time to take care of yourself.  For some people, that can be a long soak in the tub, for others it’s going for a run, for others it could be curling up with a favorite book. There are countless ways to practice self-care and each person is different and their needs will be unique. Prioritize whatever helps you feel restored and taken care of, giving you a chance to reset and feel less overwhelmed by your post-COVID schedule.

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

It’s okay to say no

People are often hesitant to say no to others, but it’s important to take care of yourself and your own needs as well. Try not to feel guilty about staying home, even as things start to open up. You may feel obligated to say yes, especially if your family members are more extroverted than you are and want to take on more social activities sooner. Maybe you can let your family members attend without you, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or agree on a family schedule where each person gets to pick one activity per week for the time being. You also don’t have to go back to the same frenetic pace that you may have felt pressured to maintain before the pandemic– it’s okay to make some of the changes from COVID permanent.

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Erin McCune