First Weekend Inside Pubs: Getting Back to Socialising From a Hospitality Expert

Brits are being offered the ultimate guide to getting back to socialising indoors after months spent out of social settings and in some cases, alone.

After being kept out of indoor venues, clubs, bars and restaurants for the best part of a year, the team at Groubook know the idea of returning to these spaces might be daunting.

Whether you are eager and excited to get back to the local pub, or if you have apprehensions, these tips can calm any anxieties about emerging from lockdown, after limited contact with friends and family for over a year.

Founder of Groubook, Bradley Gough said: “As we start to look forward to sunny days spent in beer gardens, meals in restaurants, and nights out with our friends, it is important to be conscious of how alien the first few trips out might feel.

“It is totally normal to feel nervous, apprehensive or less engaged with the idea of going out. After all, we have all been stuck in the house for an exceptionally long time!

“It is important to get on top of these issues and begin to understand them before our friends start inviting us out.

“The impacts of minimal socialising over the last year or so will range from person to person, but some will really struggle with the idea of the world opening back up, after a year or so in their own bubble.”

Getting back to socialising:

1. Start small

It is a good idea to start small after long periods of lack of contact. Start by meeting one person in a quiet spot for a coffee, or lunch to build confidence gradually. Reminders of previous enjoyable social situations, like pictures or old messages, can help to ease people back into the swing of things. It is okay to say no to situations or gatherings that bring about uncomfortable feelings but avoiding social situations entirely will be detrimental.

2. Pace yourself

After such a long time away from friends and family, it might seem like a good idea to make plans with all the most important people in your life as restrictions on indoor venues are eased. Whilst squeezing in as many lunches, drinks, and coffees as possible, will make for an exciting weekend, it might also become overwhelming. Try pacing out plans, so you can fully enjoy each reunion and avoid feelings of being socially burnt out.

3. Vary routines

It is best to try and vary routines and the places you visit, to experience more things ahead of the world opening back up. Make plans to go to places away from the usual lockdown spots or meet people in real life, who you have only recently seen virtually.

4. Consider others

When it comes to social anxiety, it is easy to become overly self-conscious when solely focusing on yourself. Take a moment to think about the people out and about around you, as they are probably feeling slightly uncomfortable too. Even the most extroverted people will be out of practice when socialising post-pandemic. It is also helpful to remember that social interactions are a two-way street, meaning it is not one person’s responsibility to carry all the conversation.

5. Be present

Regulations are changing frequently and there are lots of conflicting conversations being had in the media currently. Focusing on the present is a great calming technique for when future social plans become overwhelming. Practising mindfulness meditation can help us focus on the moment we are in, alleviating stress about imminent changes.

6. Get planning

Having solid plans can help to ease some people’s social anxieties. People feeling excited, but also a little apprehensive about the hospitality sector reopening should start by going out at quieter times, such as weekday daytimes where possible. Being prepared will also eliminate some health-related anxieties, so remember to pack plenty of hand sanitiser, spare masks and a contactless way to pay.

7. Be kind

A lot of people working in the hospitality sector have only worked a couple of shifts over the last year, meaning they might be a little out of practice and may need more patience than usual. The pandemic has also taught us that no one truly knows what strangers are going through privately. Hopefully being stuck in the house for such long periods has made everyone check their manners, but in case it hasn’t… here is a reminder!

8. Book in advance

When the day finally does come, and restaurants and bars reopen, lots of people will feel nervous or out of practice when it comes to ordering food or drinks. A great way to alleviate feelings of anxiety and avoid long waits when out and about is to make a booking or tell the venue your plan way in advance. Take advantage of online booking systems and apps like Groubook, which lets groups of friends, families or colleagues book and arrange their nights in one place, while taking advantage of discounts and rewards.

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