Posted on July 06 2021
The Top 5 behind-the-scenes discussions I'm having with women about getting back to life.
Is it really kind of over? It feels like we’re on the upswing and moving into our long awaited post-pandemic life.
There is a sense of optimism and excitement is definitely in the air!
Travel? Yes! Drinks on a rooftop patio? Sign me up! I get to doll up for dinner at an actual restaurant? I can pull that off!
While we’re all feeling a level of eagerness, the behind-the-scenes conversations I’m having with clients and girlfriends alike, have revealed a dark underbelly to all of the elation around getting back out there again.
And it can be confusing.
I am pulling back the curtain on these conversations and sharing some of the patterns I have gleaned from them. Every admission is met with a sense of relief. “Oh, you, too!? I was beginning to think that maybe I was the only one.”
You might have the exact same response and thus experience some of the ease and relief that comes from sharing these unexpected feelings.
In an effort to normalize some of the complicated and conflicting reactions to getting back to full-time life, here are the top 5 things that keep coming up.
New Social Anxieties - From clients to girlfriends, to the gal on the Pilates reformer next to me, everyone eagerly opens up about experiencing unusual social awkwardness and anxiety in this post-pandemic world, the moment I broach the topic. Reemerging from a prolonged lockdown and pandemic can be totally jarring to your system, which includes your mental. health. “...according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans, which finds 46 percent worry about risking their health or the health of a loved one. Another four in 10 are unsure of how comfortable they’ll feel in public.” Returning to office settings, places of worship, gyms and just the overall pace of the outside world might prove to be a process for you. It was for me. When I moved from locked-down LA to open-Miami, I was bursting with excitement to get out there and start living my life again. What I found instead were these new and very strange social anxieties I had never experienced before. I became so accustomed to being at home all...the...time. Even though I could now do as I pleased, I was more comfortable at home. It felt safe at home. I felt safe at home. The former extroverted, social and bubbly Diana was suddenly….gone. When I did go out, it was a game of breath and self-talk. I focused on my breathing and actively self-talked my way through the supermarket, pilates classes, walks to explore my new neighborhood, or even just looking people in the eye. It was a totally brand new experience for me, as I suspect it may be for you, too. Here are some of the phrases I used to walk, talk and breathe my way through this new anxiety. “This is a totally new experience. Remember, there is no rule book on how to deal with a global pandemic.” “Every step you take right now is a step toward being you again.” “Breath - this is a temporary situation.” The breath and self-talk strategy really worked. Speak to yourself as you move your way through the day. Breath as you do this. It is an exercise in holding space for yourself as you move through the world again, one breath at a time. And remember, the person you’re standing behind in the supermarket line might just be experiencing the same thing.
Female Insecurities - We all have our own cocktail of them. And this green eyed monster is rearing its ugly head right now. The lockdown has brought body image issues, big and small, back to the surface. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the words, “I just don’t look cute anymore. And I definitely don’t feel it. It's awful.” And that’s a direct quote. Whether it’s weight gain, muscle loss, hair loss or just plain feeling anxious over the process of “getting ready to go out”, body image issues seem to be at an all time high. I’ve never discussed this as much as I have in the last six months. So know this: you’re not alone. “A new study finds nearly one in five people believe their metabolism has slowed during the pandemic. More than half believe the crisis has altered their metabolism for good. That’s according to a recent survey of 2,000 people, asking the public to describe how living through COVID has physically affected not just their health but their relationship to their own bodies as well. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of V Shred Fitness, the survey also suggests that this problem has a connection to how much the pandemic has disrupted their usual level of activity.” Talk it out with the girlfriend you know can hold space for how you feel. Know that this is a moment in time that will pass. Be gentle with yourself. And above all else, fight your tape recorder that is running below the surface. Here are a few affirmations to help you with how you’re feeling. "I am open to accepting how I feel right now." "All change begins with self-love and self-care." "I nourish myself with loving thoughts and actions." "Right here and right now, I am enough. I love and accept myself." Remember, a pattern of self criticism will keep you stuck. Self-love is the very kind of love you need right now.
All the Single Ladies - If you’re single and ready to get out and start dating again, let me tell you, you are not alone! It’s a huge topic of conversation around here at GGM and there seems to be equal parts enthusiasm and dread. We can all see how numbers 1-3 are playing into the dating game. It’s really important here to set some post-pandemic specific boundaries with yourself before you get out there. Consider giving yourself a predetermined number of dates to get back in the swing of things and gauge how you feel. Consider defining exactly what you want out of these dates before you head out the door. Pre-determine what you are and are not willing to do, discuss, engage with, etc., on these dates. Remember, we are not our usual selves. Stand to reason, maybe they aren’t either. What boundaries can you set for yourself?
Complete Lack of Energy & Stress - There is a deadly combination of total lack of energy combined with maximum stress. This is only made worse by thechasm between how we feel and how we think we should feel right now. And that chasm is adding to the anxiety and insecurities. "Half of Americans say that the COVID-19 pandemic has been so stressful they worry they’ll never fully be able to de-stress, even after it’s all over. A survey of 2,000 Americans finds stress levels have been so bad since 2020 that 25 percent would go as far as escaping to a cabin in the woods by themselves in order to get away from the daily stresses of life. Another 15 percent would need to be even more remote, choosing a desert island as their de-stressing sanctuary." As a collective, we have never experienced this type of global event. Ever. And we all experienced it together at the same time, in real time. More Netflix, TV, Social Media, books, then ever before. We’ve become accustomed to lounging around and doing less than we did before, while feeling elevated levels of stress. We need to give ourselves some space and grace as we slowly gear back up to life. And that’s the takeaway here, give yourself the time to ease back into life. And this leads us to a closely related....
Boredom is the new Norm - Remember the time when the first thing we did when we walked in the door was scurry to the bedroom to take off that bra?? We have been in the age of no bra, no reason to put on a bra, no reason to take off a bra. COVID made one long day turn into another and then into another and here we are today. A year of boredom. "A survey of 2,005 Americans discovered nearly a third (32%) say the simple chore of doing laundry has become the highlight of their entire week. Sixty-nine percent say that after spending so much time indoors, any new experience at all feels like a thrill.” Ease your way back into it. Make three considered promises to yourself a week and honor them. Some areas you can target that will help with numbers 1-5 are: A fitness promise, “I promise myself I will do one workout this week.” A rest and relaxation promise, “I promise to turn off my phone Sunday afternoon for two hours and do _______ during that time.” A social promise, “I promise to reach out to one friend I haven’t spoken to in a while this week.” And finally, a self-care promise. Pick your pleasure!
Social distancing. Covid. Corona Virus. Lockdown. Stay at home orders. Safer at home orders. Pandemic. All words that became part of the global lexicon and changed our lives. As we begin to inch our way back to normal, expect to have both unusual and unexpected feelings.
My best advice? Let go of any expectations you may have and lovingly embrace the you in what is.