Based on all the photos of people showing off vaccine cards on your social media feed, you know a lot of people are getting theirs – more than 105-million Americans are now fully vaccinated. And as those numbers continue to grow, more people are ready to hang out in person once again. But if all those invitations to happy hours, brunches and dinner parties make you feel a little anxious, you’re definitely not alone.
The American Psychological Association’s 2021 Stress in America report finds that nearly half of Americans say they feel uneasy thinking about in-person interactions after the pandemic ends. And experts say that’s totally normal because of the way we were isolated. As people start to socialize again, they’ll have different levels of comfort and it’s important to know your limits and when to turn down an invitation. “Take baby steps,” neuropsychologist Dr. Debra O’Shea advises. “Dip your foot in the pond slowly.”
She suggests finding your people, the group you’re comfortable with, and to start socializing with them, then branch out. And if your plate gets too full or you feel uncomfortable from a safety standpoint, life coach Marilyn Fettner reminds us that it’s okay to say no to social invites. That’s not always easy to do, but it can save you. “Saying no brings serenity because life isn’t about being everywhere all the time,” celebrity lifestyle manager Saunté Lowe explains, “but rather is about selectively picking those things that bring you peace and joy.”