Returning to reality after a long weekend can be a letdown but, hopefully, most people were able to gather with family or friends for some much-needed social interaction. After so many months of distancing and isolation, it can be difficult, however, to muster enthusiasm for once-enjoyed activities. If you are feeling blah, ambivalent, exhausted, or generally sad – you are not alone and there are strategies to help regain a greater sense of happiness, connection, meaning, and hopefulness.
According to a recent Time article, media burnout resulting from the pandemic, polarized politics, and a general onslaught of negative information has contributed to a global increase in reported rates of anxiety and depression. The world feels out of control and many people struggling in their little corner of the planet feel disconnected from others, that their lives don’t matter to anyone else.
Studies have shown that social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Isolation and loneliness are associated with a 50 percent increased risk for dementia among older adults, higher rates of heart disease, stroke, and greater incidences of depression, anxiety, and suicide. After two years of trying to keep safe from COVID, many people have found they struggle to engage with others even knowing the value of social interaction.
Re-connecting socially may be different in post-lockdown society, but interacting more with others and participating in activities that promote positive feelings can over time boost mood and generate a more optimistic and hopeful attitude. When people feel happier themselves, they are better able to care for others and take action to make positive changes in the world.
It will get easier to re-engage with the world but it may take a “fake it ‘till you make it” approach. Start small by suggesting a walking coffee date with a friend, visit a museum, or take the bike out for a spin and stop to chat with a neighbor. Dressing up a bit, doing your hair and makeup, or getting a shave and haircut can be the first step to feeling better, and getting back out there.
“Even the smallest actions are steps in the right direction” Unknown