Earlier this week, I lay awake obsessing over how much of a rubbish friend I had been over the last couple of months. Despite having more spare time than ever before, virtually keeping in touch has felt so much more difficult during Lockdown 3. But why?
It started in January. Not only had I been taking ages to reply to WhatsApps, but when I did muster enough f*cks, I struggled to find anything remotely interesting to actually talk about, and just the thought of organising yet another Zoom quiz made me want to hide under my duvet.
Ironically, despite all the lack of socialising, it seems social anxiety still very much exists in the covid era.
It's surreal to think that not too long ago, we were organising several Zoom quizzes a week or gushing about the Houseparty app.
But now, the longing to have a face to face interaction is so overpowering that anything else feels exhausting.
And it turns out I'm not alone in the chronic social fatigue.
"Now we're on our third lockdown, I can barely muster the enthusiasm to text my mum back, let alone take part in a Zoom quiz," Anna*, 31, tells me.
Becky, 28, agrees, adding: "As much as I love my friends and miss them all dearly, every time my phone pings with a WhatsApp message, I barely have the energy to lift up my phone. It's not that I don't want to speak to them or see how they're doing, it's more than we literally have nothing more to say to one another as neither of us have done anything."
One pointed out that actually, after a day of doing nothing but messaging, Zooming, and chatting on the phone for work, it's the last thing she wants to do come 5pm.
"When it comes to texting, I really don't want to do any of it after a long day of instant messaging for work because we are all WFH. Typing from the crack of dawn until midnight is no fun and I swear I'm getting repetitive strain injuries in my fingers," she said.
But why are we feeling like this now, one year in? To find out what's going on, we chatted to chartered psychologist and author Andrew Bridgewater, who gave us the lowdown on our so-called social fatigue.
"As human beings, we're wired for connections. We need to be connected and to connect," Andrew tells Tyla.
"Being on show on video calls, back to back, can be extremely tiring and very stressful - more so than being in a room with people.
"Ultimately, we're weary about the whole thing, we need to go easy on ourselves because it has been 12 months of this and there's still huge levels of uncertainty. We think we can see the light at the tunnel, but there is still that unknown. It's been a year and people are exhausted."
Andrew - who hosts the Mood & Food podcast - explains that the last thing we need to be doing is beating ourselves up about our communication skills.
"There isn't a blue print on how to deal with it and people shouldn't be giving themselves a hard time for finding it difficult to keep in touch with people," he said.
"Many of us have got used to a level of overthinking that we don't even realise what we're doing. This can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, palpitations, headaches and difficulty sleeping."
Andrew explained that, instead of fretting over long messages and phone calls, there are other ways to show loved ones you're thinking of them.
"Just letting people know you're thinking about them doesn't have to be anything dramatic. Try just a little gesture, a thought, or an indication that you haven't forgotten about them. Why not send someone a letter? We love letters because they're something to cherish and keep."
Friends, if you start receiving an influx of letters, you'll know why!
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