Re-entry anxiety as the lockdown eases?
Noticed feelings of uneasiness as you think about meeting up with others as the lockdown eases?
With the lockdown easing some people are talking about feelings a bit like those you might get going to a school reunion or in those moments before arriving at a fancy dress party. On one level you know it is just another social situation and yet someone has added some rules or new expectations, you may be excited and looking forward to meeting up with people both old and new and yet you notice a feeling of uneasiness, discomfort or anxiety.
It is natural to feel this way and it might be helpful to think of this like stage fright, so in amongst the excitement there is some self doubt, a jolt that makes you wonder whether you've got things right, was there some information you missed? what if you do something out of place? what if other people act differently? what if they don't behave as they are supposed to? or you don't recognise them because they have changed?
There is a little part in everyone that dreads something happening that they might feel embarrassed about and unless those thoughts are challenged then next you might be imagining a stomach churning, movie style moment of humiliation, the type that might follow you for a whole lifetime.
Such thoughts can lead to us becoming self-conscious, awkward, even clumsy and a bit paranoid. Particularly around social distancing we can fear that every time we go out it is going to be just like the awkward and jarring experience of the “pavement dance”, where you catch the eyes of someone coming towards you - you move to the right but at the same time they move to the right, so you move to the left and so do they.
Returning to the easing of the lockdown and how it impacts on our social interactions, it might very well feel just like those initial moments at a fancy dress party - tense, awkward and uncomfortable and yes there may be some “pavement dancing” type moments but we will soon make connections, find humour and camaraderie in our shared plight, relax and be back to our old sense of ease; the old normal will be replaced by a new normal.