The delicate business of bringing people back into society… – Slugger O’Toole

I texted an old school friend to meet up for a walk. He replied that he was in such bad shape after a year and a half in confinement that even a walk could be too strenuous.

The pandemic affects everyone differently. Some people live their best lives with more time with their families and a lot of savings due to the inability to spend at the same level. Others struggled with the loneliness and isolation that took their toll. Stories abound about the covid stone and the people hitting the bottle.

I think the general mood for a lot of us is a feeling of being stuck in a rut. Every day seems the same, a groundhog day of the same old man, the same old man. I eat out twice a week and have taken a few trips, but even I have the general feeling of meh. As we hope to near the end of the pandemic, that’s when many of us will feel the crash – a mild case of PTSD or adrenal fatigue. We’ve been living on our nerves for a year and a half, and it’s hangover time.

Humans crave routine: Tuesday night spaghetti bolognese, Friday night fish and chips. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced us to change our routines, some for the better, like going out for more walks. Other routines are more destructive, like sitting on the couch watching Netflix and sending us chips and beer.

A lot of people were very keen to return to restaurants and bars when they reopened, but I think we need to pay more attention to getting the balance right out of their heartwarming inertia. People got used to drinking at home. Why bother going to a pub when you can sit on the couch with a bottle of cheap beer or wine from the supermarket? Why go to the movies when you can watch Netflix or Prime? It may seem like such a problem to leave the house; why bother?

Well the reason is that it is good for your sanity to get out and move around. To meet up with friends and get away from it all. Even if you are not a drinker, it is nice to go to a cafe or have lunch. I never understand why more people don’t eat out for lunch; the offers are amazing. £ 6 for a pizza and salad at Little Wing, £ 10 for a 2 course Indian in Brasserie du Bengale, £ 6 for the lunch special at Camille Thai – they practically give the food.

We all need human contact; even the most introverted among us need community.

So what to do? Well, make an effort. Text a friend to meet you. Say yes if you’re invited to something, no matter how boring. If you’re stuck for friends, check out local meeting groups or consider signing up for an evening class at your local university or college.

The bottom line is that it’s not just you. Despite what you might think when looking at people’s edited lives on social media, a lot of people are bored and just as lonely. You are not intrusive in asking a friend to meet you; probably, they will be all too eager to break away from the old routine.

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