Taking Care of yourself - Going back to normal edition
"Let's meet up; we are allowed now!"
"Let's meet up; we are allowed now!" How many of us have sent or received this text in the last few weeks? It is exciting, adrenaline-inducing even, but my question is, at what expense? Where would we go? The endless places in London, beer gardens, cocktail bars, rooftop bars, restaurants with heaters. The possibilities are endless, and the buzz is very much present. Even though I have felt the desire to join this new chapter of going out to pubs and being social, I am also aware that mental health must come first.
For months, we have adapted to a new way of life in our own homes. The daily routine, at times, habitual, but I found it to be extremely comforting. I quite enjoyed writing down a routine where I could frame my days to my own wants. I found the perfect walking route, one where not too many people went. I found the perfect workout routine that kept me "fit", and I found the times in the day that worked for me to do my work. Does this simply all go out the window, now that everything is open. It is tempting, and I have found myself needing to say yes to those invitations to meet up.
The other day I went for a drink with a friend on a rooftop bar in Angel. Everything felt like a blur, but equally, I was in touch with every sense. We walked up these incredibly narrow stairs to the rooftop, greeted by a smiling barman. Everyone seems in sync with one another, and the atmosphere felt warm. We sat down next to these two people who were smoking, and the man reached out to the friend I was there with, asking for a lighter. The most simple interaction led to a light-hearted conversation; are vapes better for you or cigarettes? Although this sounds minor, these are the things that I have missed; talking to strangers that you will not likely see again. It stays in the context of the "night out". I wanted to stay for longer, drink more. I felt relaxed, and everything was easy. A waiter on standby to take orders, a comfortable chair and my vape fully charged. Slowly, I am seeing how easy it is to fall back into old habits - drinking too much and spending the same.
One year, I had not consumed alcohol. One year since being in the company of strangers and one year since going out had felt like a rare occasion. It's overwhelming, and I felt this the day after. I was sluggish doing my morning workout, I didn't wake up easily (7.00 am - my Lockdown ritual), and I didn't want to go out for a walk.
I suppose it is to be accepted. The aftermath will show in all areas, emotionally and physically. The routine I had formed during lockdown had been trampled on. The day after, everything was moving slower, and I was unmotivated. Should I allow these days of social nights out or stick to the safe, rigid routine that I have created?
Ultimately, I am, just like everybody else, going to have to find a balance. I should not be hard on myself or force myself to be constantly productive. I need to allow these social nights out, as and when it feels comfortable to do so, and expect that you will not always be on "top form". It's a working progress, but as we come to enjoy the normal events again, integrating those things that made us feel good during lockdown (even if they are little) should be the way forward.