I’ve had a bit of an issue in the last couple of weeks that I was hoping you could give me some guidance on.
Since the pubs and restaurants opened back up all my friends are mad to go for drinks and food.
I was feeling a bit flustered and panicky. I felt really awkward
To be honest, I thought I would be too. Well actually, I was, until I was in the situation or just beforehand, when I started to get a weird feeling.
It’s hard to find the right words, but I suppose I was feeling a bit flustered and panicky. I felt really awkward, like I didn’t know what to say or do with myself. I was conscious about what I said. Which is weird, because I was with friends after all, most of whom I know well.
This is unusual for me, as I’ve never really experienced anything like this. While I’d never be the absolute centre of attention, I haven’t really experienced issues being in crowds before.
I’ve not accepted any other invitations to go out
I assume it’s linked to the fact that, like everybody else, it’s been ages since I’ve been around lots of people. The pub’s beer garden where we were sitting was busy.
It’s just now I’m getting a bit self-conscious about being in a crowd. I’ve not accepted any other invitations to go out and I’m a little worried about going out again to be honest. Now the feeling did go away after a while, but what if it happens again?
Have you any advice on what I can do to get over this, Miriam?
I really want to get back out having fun,
Dear Worried Wexford,
Thank you very much for your email. From the outset I want to say that even going by my own social circle, this seems to be a very common reaction to “getting back out here” after lockdown.
Many of my friends, who would have had no problems in crowds before, said they felt slightly uneasy the first time they were around people again. Even Miriam herself (when she managed to get a break from writing this column) had a few minutes of awkwardness when she went for dinner with a group recently.
It is quite normal to feel apprehensive
I am not saying this in any way to take away from your issue, but just to let you know that many people are in the same boat as yourself. It is quite normal to feel apprehensive in this situation, we are not used to being around people any more.
I also think it is important to say at this point, that I can give you some strategies to try, but if you feel like this is a very debilitating issue at any stage, I would suggest you see a counsellor.
Regular readers of this page will know that I am a big advocate for putting your hand up when you need help. If you had strep throat you would go to the doctor. It should be the same with your mental health, if you are feeling unwell see a professional.
Taking deep, slow breaths will calm you down
So, on to the advice. Firstly, going out again I would suggest that you tell a couple of your close friends you are going with how you are feeling. Even knowing that they know will help and they will be able to offer some support.
Next, and it sounds quite simple, but don’t forget to breathe. Taking deep, slow breaths will calm you down.
If possible, suggest a place to your friends that is a little less busy. That way you can ease yourself back into crowds.
Practising mindfulness and meditation around these events can also help. But remember, don’t suffer in silence. The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has a list of people on their website, www.iacp.ie/page/therapists
Wishing you all the best,