There has been a whole lot of hype around the “post-pandemic” summer of 2021. Over a year after social restrictions, society seems eager to re-emerge into their social lives in a big way. Suddenly, there are plenty of options available for how one can spend their time. It can feel exhilarating and incredibly overwhelming. Many feel pressure to say yes to everything because, finally, there are things to say yes to attend! However, just because we can say yes doesn’t always mean yes is the correct answer. As we re-emerge, it is essential to remember how to assert boundaries. Maintaining balance, prioritizing what is most important to you, and mindfully “recharging” are three ways to make sure that you are regulating your emergence back into a social world so that you can enjoy all that is now available to you.
During the stay-at-home stage of the pandemic, people had more time than ever at home. For some, this presented an opportunity to reconnect or newly connect with different activities, hobbies, and interests. Perhaps you began meditating or remembered how much you love doing a puzzle. With fewer options available, people found joy, relaxation, and distraction from activities that tend not to have been as frequent before the pandemic. As you re-enter your social life, consider if there are things you took up during 2020 that you’d like to bring with you. You might find that maintaining your daily walk ritual is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Make it a point to incorporate it still now. Balance looks different for everyone, but consider what it means to you. This blog post goes more into depth about what is meant by self-care and may help you recognize what types of activities help you feel grounded and balanced.
You will likely find yourself feeling like you have more options than you are used to when spending your time. Suddenly, you can go to your friend’s birthday party, your cousins’ bridal shower, or travel with your roommate to visit a college friend across the country all on the same weekend. These sorts of decisions can feel very anxiety-producing, especially after over a year of not needing to make these decisions. Revisit your priorities to help guide decision-making. Though it may feel like you have so much “lost time” to make up for, there will hopefully be plenty of time ahead to do all that you have missed, so you don’t need to get it all done right away. Be patient. Try to practice mindfulness and be present in each thing you do so that you can truly enjoy it.
I often tell clients to think of themselves like a piggy bank and to consider the different ways they spend their time as either deposits or withdrawals from the bank. You cannot continue to withdraw change from a depleted bank with no deposits coming in. Similarly, you cannot continue to operate without mental and emotional replenishment. Think about what activities fuel you and which ones deplete you so that you can mindfully avoid “running on empty.” If you know a big family dinner is likely to be filled with drama and feel emotionally draining, consider a self-care activity you can do before and after. Everyone recharges differently. Introverts get their energy from solitude. However, extroverts get their energy from socializing. Knowing how you get your energy can help ensure that you don’t find your piggy bank empty, so read more about introverts and extroverts.
As you move through the summer, continue to check in with yourself and take inventory of how you are feeling and how the different ways you are spending your time are serving you. Take time to thoroughly process your feelings, which are described in more detail here. Remember, having fun can be incredible, so long as you are doing things that genuinely feel fun for you, rather than doing something because you feel like you “should” be. Practice saying no in the mirror if it feels daunting to imagine turning down an invitation so that you can feel better prepared to assert boundaries and maintain balance in your life.