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Dealing With Social Anxiety As The Pandemic Wanes

    Dealing With Social Anxiety As The Pandemic Wanes

    The pandemic drove us to stay inside our homes and limit interactions. For those of use who are introverts, we welcomed the idea with open arms. But regardless if you’re an introvert or extrovert, too much time spent indoors can have negative effects. Some people find themselves experiencing social anxiety as they slowly spend more time outdoors with other people. In this article, we’ll be looking into the condition as a disorder and as an effect of the global health crisis.

    What is social anxiety disorder?

    As the name suggests, this condition is when a person fears that other people are watching or even judging them. Social anxiety disorder is more than just being shy or naturally nervous when meeting new people– it is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other daily activities.

    Situations such as public speaking, meeting new people, job interviews, class participation, dating, or even just speaking to a store worker can cause anxiety. It can make finding new friends difficult. It can even manifest in physical symptoms at times:

    • Blushing, sweating, or tremors
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Mind going blank, feeling nauseated
    • Stiff body posture and soft voice
    • Difficulty making eye contact
    • Self-consciousness
    • Avoiding crowded places

    Social anxiety coming out of the pandemic

    Experts say that fear or anxiety in social situations is to be expected. After all, anxiety is the body’s innate response to a perceived threat. Indeed, it can be very tiring to relearn etiquette and pick up social cues. This can prove to be challenging especially since you haven’t been able to practice this all during the quarantine period.

    In the context of the pandemic, social anxiety could come from uncertainty in interactions with other people after an extended period of time. You might not be sure if it’s acceptable to hug another person (or for them to hug you), or if you should opt to shake their hand. You might also choose to offer a fist bump instead.

    Ways of coping with social anxiety

    There are some ways to alleviate this condition as we move away from the worst period of the pandemic.

    • Take time to get used to the return of social events or situations. Try to pinpoint what part of the event worries you and come up with techniques to minimize those concerns. Ask yourself: What is within your power to control? What is your comfort level? Sometimes this might mean declining an invitation to a social gathering, or limiting time spent at one.
    • Ease back into social situations. Don’t be too ambitious and fill up your calendar all at once. If you plan on returning to the office, try coming in once or twice a week in the beginning. Once you gain some level of comfort, then you can increase the frequency of your attendance at work.
    • Practice coping mechanisms before the actual situation takes place. Using the same example (going back to work), you can prepare yourself physically. Get a good night’s sleep, eat a balanced meal, and avoid alcohol or anything else that might negatively affect you during the daytime. By learning ways to relax your mind and body, you can tone down the physical manifestations of anxiety and help manage it better.
    • Keep in mind that the social anxiety you feel is often worse than the situation itself. You might find yourself feeling better when you see that your worst imaginings have not happened after all.
    • Respect other people’s boundaries and set your own. If you are apprehensive about coming in contact with people due to concerns over COVID-19, don’t hesitate to say so. Being transparent with your own boundaries also leaves little room for others to misinterpret your actions.

    Key Takeaway

    The most important thing to remember when dealing with social anxiety post-pandemic is patience. Be patient with yourself. Adjusting to a previous routine can be mentally demanding. You might find yourself exhausted, but it’s necessary to take things slow. Sooner or later, you may get back into the groove of things and allay your fears.

    Learn more about Anxiety here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Managing Post-Pandemic Social Anxiety, https://www.cedars-sinai.org/newsroom/managing-post-pandemic-social-anxiety. Accessed 30 Mar 2022

    Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness. Accessed 30 Mar 2022

    How to Deal with Social Anxiety After a Year of Social Distancing, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-deal-with-social-anxiety-after-a-year-of-social-distancing/. Accessed 30 Mar 2022

    Coping with current times if you have social phobia, https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/COVID-normal/supporting-personal-wellbeing/coping-with-current-times-if-you-have-social-phobia. Accessed 30 Mar 2022

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    Written by China Logarta Updated Aug 31
    Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD
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