Summer has started, the sun is shining, and our schedules are filling up. With the start of the sunny season, it seems like plans and invites for social gatherings are coming from everywhere. Birthday picnics, Pride month festivities, and Fourth of July parties are all safer now thanks to COVID-19 vaccines – and it’s so exciting! But, it can also be overwhelming at times.

I remind myself that I always have the power to choose where I really want to put my time.  So if your busy schedule is making you feel more exhausted and stressed out than happy – make sure you’re also making plans to take time for yourself.

We had a lot of time with ourselves during the pandemic, so it makes sense that it’ll take some time to readjust to faster-paced, entire lives again.  So while it’s great to see friends and family again, it’s OK to pace yourself.

I’m taking things one step at a time and making sure I’m doing something I genuinely want to do – not just making plans because it feels like I “should.” That approach has helped me feel more at ease and in control.

Losing friends? It’s not just the pandemic’s fault.

Maybe you’re struggling with the opposite problem: an empty calendar because of a post-pandemic decrease in friends. My colleague Jenna Ryu says you’re not alone.

Before the pandemic, many of us held onto our sacred friendships — nurturing these relationships with weekly brunches, happy hours, hangouts, and reunions. But now, even social butterflies are seeing their circles shrink, Jenna writes.

Friendships are declining in America. According to a recent American Perspectives Survey, people reported having fewer close friends than in previous years, roughly half of Americans citing three or fewer. Instead, they’re turning to parents and romantic partners for support.

“People have lost their fringe friends or those friends they saw once in a while. So it’s unsurprising that surface-level friendships have decreased since we haven’t been out and about as much,” psychologist and friendship expert Dr. Marisa Franco says, citing social distancing measures and lockdowns.

Shasta Nelson, friendship expert and author of “Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness,” adds that many people faced significant personal challenges during the pandemic, and as a result, became more selective in deciding which friends were worth confiding in. More than one in five survey respondents said the past 12 months have been “much more difficult for them than usual.”

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