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To help combat this, comedian Jo Brand is encouraging us to get ‘socially fit’ again: “Forget training for a Couch to 5k, it’s all about getting from Couch to 5 conversations now… and what better place to start than on your doorstep?”
The 63-year-old is an ambassador for The Big Lunch – taking place June 5-6, it’s a National Lottery-supported initiative from the Eden project and a “chance to celebrate community connections and get to know one another a little better”.
If you feel like your social skills are a bit rusty after more than a year of Covid-related restrictions, here’s how to flex those muscles again…
To really ease yourself back into IRL conversations, why not practise on the phone? And no, texting doesn’t count – it has to be an actual chat.
Next time you’re talking to a friend, ask open-ended questions to really get the conversation flowing.
Pop over to see your neighbour… A socially distanced cup of tea won’t take much time out of your day, and could be a great way to get some fresh air and reconnect with someone from your area.
After months of hanging out with just your household, it’s probably been a while since you met anyone new. Outdoor sports clubs are open in many areas, so why not join a recreational team? You’ll get some exercise in, while remembering what it’s like to meet new, interesting people.
Shops and supermarkets are a good opportunity to sharpen up your small talk by chatting to staff.
If you’re worried about having absolutely nothing to say when you see your mates (who actually has news other than what they’ve been watching on Netflix?), consider swiftly taking up a new hobby or challenge. That way, you’ll have a topic of conversation ready to go when you’re out and about – and it’s a lot more interesting than endless Covid chat.
Sitting down with a friend and chatting for a few hours might feel a bit intense, particularly if you’re out of practise. Instead plan your meet-ups around activities – maybe playing frisbee or football in the park – to take some of the pressure off, and so it doesn’t feel awkward if there’s a lull in conversation.
If you’re feeling particularly anxious about your social life restarting, take it as slow as you need to. Maybe meet up with close friends first, and plan in plenty of time for yourself. You’ll probably find it’s like riding a bike – you’ll be back in the groove in no time.
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