Why Social Interaction Might Feel Tiresome & Draining Post-Pandemic

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frustrated woman talking to friend
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The lockdown restrictions have been lifted and you can finally resurrect that dearly departed social life you once had.

Although, what I’m hearing from my clients and friends is that what they thought would be an exciting experience has left them feeling tired and drained.

Are you feeling the same?

There’s a reason why this social interaction has suddenly become a chore, rather than a pleasure.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just go back to the way it was? To experience the joy of conversation that fulfills your need for human connection?

A space where you feel important as you share your exciting news and all eyes are on you, listening intently?

Then, do you remember the time you had that massive stress dump because of a hearty belly laugh?

Is that something like it was for you before this lengthy lockdown?

RELATED: Why The Pandemic Has Destroyed Your Ability To Concentrate

Contrasting your Covid social experience.

If you think back over the last two years of who you interacted with and the types of conversations you had, there’s a great contrast to the way it was before lockdown.

You might have been limited to a personal cohort, which may have included no more than a few people — your roommate, spouse, or children. In any case, your social reach was massively reduced.

Although, if you live alone, you may have been permitted only one person to visit. This not only limited your social circle, but also limited the intellectual level, diversity, and depth of your conversations.

Aside from your personal cohort was the social media platforms. This may have been your only hope of anything even close to the value that your in-person social experience brought.

Social media is basically the equivalent of small talk and provides this layer of protection keeping you from diving deep into meaningful conversations.

Your communication was probably reduced to likes, emojis, and five-word comments.

Some of your deepest conversations may have gone on in your mind or, as with my friend, one-sided conversations with her cat.

You only have to answer to yourself, and with consideration and compassion absent, you didn’t have to put much thought into what you said.

None of this prepares you for the complexities of in-person social interaction.

Why learn to be socially interactive?

"Social literacy is an important key to success in work, happiness in relationships, and well-being in life," said Robert Holden in his book, Success Intelligence.

There are many benefits of being socially interactive that most people have missed while in the lengthy lockdown, and you might connect with some of them:

Enjoying the richness of thoughtful and supportive conversations.
Feeling the warmth and love from laughter and compassion.
Touching your heart with the generosity and kind words of another.
The conversation's nuances of tone and facial expressions that tell you far more than a social post ever will.

Nothing beats the experience of nose-to-nose or belly-to-belly conversations.

RELATED: How To Release The Social Stress & Anxiety Of Getting Back To Normal, Post-Vaccine

What makes having a conversation tiresome and draining?

Social interaction is like a muscle. Anyone can learn it but needs practice to get good at it. You need to strengthen those muscles until it becomes easier and second nature to you.

If you’ve been in an environment with limited interaction, you forget how to carry on a conversation. You can’t go from lifting 10-pound weights to 100 pounds overnight — that’s too much strain on your muscles.

The same is true for your social scene. You need to gradually get back into that environment — taking you from exhausted to charismatic.

Going from small talk to more involved, quality conversations needs a transition phase. Otherwise, you’ll get overwhelmed and stressed at the thought of meeting someone in person.

The idea that you can no longer sit safely behind social media posts is terrifying! You’re out in the open and there’s no opportunity to craft the perfect response or comeback to the conversation later.

You’re feeling vulnerable and fearing judgment.

This is a very uncomfortable state to be in.

Trying to carry on a conversation, while your inner dialogue demands your attention, is exhausting! Then, after, you feel drained and just want to go back to solitude and back to the comfort of isolation.

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Here are 6 helpful activities to make your social interaction less tiresome and draining, so you can stay energized and engaged.

1. Practice being present.

You can’t be engaged in a conversation when your mind is thinking of what to say next or waiting for a pause in the conversation to share something you did in isolation.

Competing to be heard is a lot of work.

2. Limit your exposure to fewer people.

One-on-one conversations allow you to focus on that individual, instead of juggling the conversation’s complexities that occur in a group setting.

3. Keep the setting simple.

Too many distractions will lead to unfocused conversations. Your mind is on overdrive trying to avoid the attention-grabbing activities around you.

Choose a relaxing, quiet place to enjoy your conversation.

4. Keep your engagements short.

Committing to interactions in under an hour allows you to practice your social skills in a more manageable timeframe.

Your mind will recharge faster and your ability to pay attention will refresh easier.

5. Be curious and ask questions.

This is a productive way to keep the conversation going. Instead of commenting or offering your opinion, ask questions to get a better understanding of what the other person is sharing.

Let your curiosity guide you.

6. Keep the conversation simple.

You don’t need to bring out the whole basket of goodies that you experienced during the lockdown. Share a couple of things that are going on in your life and explore those with your friend.

This encourages a back-and-forth movement in the conversation, making it more interesting.

Social interaction is draining and tiresome for most people.

Although with practice and gradual reentry to your social scene, you’ll be able to experience the beauty of conversation, once again.

RELATED: 6 Expert Tips For Planning Celebrations In An (Almost) Post-Covid Season

Christine Hourd, ACC, an international success coach, located in Calgary, Alberta, specializes in strengthening interpersonal communication skills. Head to her website at The Success Model where you can find more information about her programs and coaching and book a conversation with Christine.