Just like last summer, we are experiencing some reprieve and reduction in restriction and pressure that the pandemic has put on us over the past year and a half. Do you recall last summer when we went outside again, and saw more people out and about, and it felt somewhat ‘normal’ again? Well, we are there again — and this time the warm temperatures and permeating sun are combined with actual signs that the pandemic is minimizing. It literally feels like we are getting to return to some sustainable normality.
I was on the ferry to the Mainland this past week and I would usually go sit somewhere quieter and read my book. This time it was different! What a strange thing I noticed — I felt like I just wanted to be around everyone. I enjoyed the background noise. I smiled listening to children in the play area — even when they cried out loud. I reveled in overhearing several conversations at once. Background noise. People being social. It felt strange and foreign and wonderful all at the same time. I sat right near the entrance to the café where the long line for lunch starts — on purpose! It was energizing and fulfilling to be around groups of people again.
As we all start to rebuild our comfort level for being social again, there will be some trepidation and resistance. We will not feel like jumping right back in with both feet. I am sure you feel that now, as I felt it on the ferry. Yet we are human, we are social beings, and we are hard-wired for connection and social time (to our own varying degrees). And so, it is time. It is time to be outside. It is time to be social. It is time to go shopping. It is time to go to the beach. It is time to walk the trails. It is time to visit friends. It is time to go out for meals. It is time to rebuild our social circles and get outside of our recent comfort zones, which have been constricted and strangled to a fraction of what they were before.
To fully enjoy your re-socialization, and your summer, it will take some work from you. Your default is not what it was pre-pandemic. Your default position is what it has been for the last 18 months. Limited. You will need to push out the edges of your comfort zone. You will be required to expand your circle.
To offset the discomfort of pushing out the walls of your comfort zone, here are a few tips to help you with that:
1. Just like Simba from the Lion King, remember who you truly are. What were your social patterns and habits pre-pandemic that you would like to keep? Keep those! And remember what those small shifts that you made during the pandemic that you appreciated and would like to keep in your routine are. Blend those habits together to make your new, better self. It’s small changes that add up to the big changes. Practice being that new, improved, better self every day until it’s routine.
2. Practice gratitude, with intention, every day. We can all say we are grateful people. However, if we do not have an intentional (scheduled) practice of daily gratitude a few times each day, we are not practicing intentional gratitude. And therefore, missing out on the good feeling in our abdomen (and spirit!) we get from authentic gratitude. Even 60 seconds, two to three times per day will start that habit. You keep hearing about the importance of practicing gratitude, and I know it is sinking in for you. Will this be the time you put your daily reminders in your phone or schedule? Is this the nudge you needed to get the free gratitude app on your phone? It is honestly that easy. And the uplifted attitude you experience within a few days of the daily intentional practice will have you saying, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”. Carry that attitude of gratitude with you through the day.
3. Journal. Reflect. Write stuff down each day. The magic of putting thoughts to paper is more than you realize right now. The practice of reflecting on your day and what you liked, what you didn’t, what you’d like to focus on the following day — it’s magical. And there is only one way to experience it, try it for a few weeks and pay attention to the shift you feel.
In fact, you could even combine steps two and three and journal your daily gratitudes as well. And at the end of the day, when you are writing down your final gratitudes for the day, include what worked well this day, what you would shift, and what you will focus on tomorrow. Maybe even acknowledge what feelings are lingering from the day (light or dark) and why you suspect that is. Even scratching the surface and one or two layers deep will give you so many gifts.
If you’re anything like me, trying something new is fun and exciting. Even getting back to something you did before that you have been missing will be fun and exciting. It is often overcoming those challenges that are right in front of us that gives us the most fulfillment.
Lean in to one or more of the tips above to create the momentum to re-build your social circle, to expand your comfort zone, and realize your best summer yet. See you out there! In the arena. Daring greatly.