Summertime Self-Care for Reentry Anxiety
A lot of people associate the summertime with fun, carefree times. We go on trips, we head to the water, and we spend time with friends and family. It’s a time to be outside, soaking up the sun and enjoying the long moments of hot sunny days with lots and lots of people.
But all that heat and energy can come with a cost. We can easily get overheated, exhausted, dehydrated, and cranky, especially when the short, hot nights rob us of the deep sleep we need to recover from the day.
Not only are we dealing with the regular stresses of the season, but this summer is a special one. We’ve been functioning in a pandemic for around a year and a half, and with many of us getting our vaccines, we are stepping out into some of the experiences of normal, post-pandemic life—including socializing.
The Social Spectrum
Some of us are energized by social experiences, and others need a lot more time alone in the quiet. Our relationships also vary in quality, and depending on whom we are spending time with, we may feel energized by some encounters and exhausted by others. After more than a year of isolation, the way we feel about social interactions may have really changed.
I often feel that there is too much pressure to go outside and socialize in the summer. I always mean to go to the beach more than I do; perhaps the truth is that I’m a shade person who loves curling up with a book rather than running into the water and getting sand in my bathing suit. There are so many things in life we believe should feel a certain way and we forget to ask ourselves how we really feel.
Self-care isn’t one-size-fits-all, and it’s not even going to be the same every day. A big part of self-care is pausing to check in with our energy levels, our mood, how well we slept, and so on. Some days, going to the beach and having a cocktail with a bunch of friends is self-care. Other days, closing the blinds and watching nature documentaries at home alone is just the ticket.
It’s not that there’s a right or wrong way to care for ourselves during this unique time. Rather, we should give ourselves a little bit of space to realize that we may not want to do things the way we’ve done them before. We might want to approach this hot, bright season with a different kind of attitude and care for each other in a different kind of way.
Allowing for a Gentle Reentry
I learned a lot about myself and my social interactions during this pandemic year. I noticed for myself that it was a surprising relief to be able to say no to many of the usual interactions I would have with people. I learned that there were certain people I could stay intimate with over the phone or Zoom, and other people who dropped away more naturally. I learned that I’m a bit more sensitive to social interactions than I was really acknowledging—as an empathetic person, I will often pick up on other people’s mood and energy, and I needed to conserve that a bit more in order to calm my stress levels. I also learned that trying to connect over Zoom is often a lot more exhausting than doing it in person. Oh—and I really miss hugs.
As I step into the new/old world of a vaccinated city, I will take these learnings with me. I will consider that I might need to be a bit more tender with myself in my social interactions. I might need to go slowly back into spending time with people or letting strangers get within six feet of me. I may need to leave the party a little early and spend some time in the dark and quiet in order to recover. It might be time to re-enter the normal world, but that doesn’t mean we have to be completely ready for it—at least, not yet.
- by Julie Peters