Social anxiety is a killer on normal day-to-day life, throw in a pandemic where we’ve become used to being shut away from social activity and then the social anxiety has increased massively.
What used to be everyday for us, perhaps even mundane, now has us hiding at home, afraid to enjoy the activities which once brought us joy.
Personally speaking, when I first moved to Harrogate I couldn't even go to a coffee shop alone or out for dinner.
At first I couldn't understand why my brain wasn't allowing me to do this, but with time and a CBT course, I understood that I would soon have to learn to live with my social anxiety.
Of course now I can do this all the time and not feel any anxiety but after lockdown and having to stay away from people, I've found that even trips to the supermarket were becoming overwhelming.
I've found that I don't want people in my space anymore and will actively move out of the way so that I don't have any contact with them!
I've definitely become more anxious about being in crowded places than I was prior to the pandemic. But thankfully there are ways to help if you too have been feeling nervous about re-entering society after the pandemic.
Practical Tips To Overcoming Social Anxiety
I’ve put this post together to offer advice on what to do as lockdown restrictions are easing to help with social anxiety.
Firstly, and most importantly, social anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of.
So, if any of the below steps don’t work out straight away or you don’t feel up to it – please don’t knock yourself down. There’s always next time.
Here are a few ideas to help you overcome your social anxiety after the pandemic.
Start off on small outings alone – whether it be going for a walk in a local public nature reserve to ordering a coffee and sitting in the corner of your favourite coffee place. Take small steps to become familiar with places you can go and the sort of people you might meet there. It will be much easier to engage more with others in the future if you start to make yourself comfortable in certain settings.
Arrange 1-2-1 hang outs with close friends or family members who won’t pressure you into settings you’re not yet comfortable with, baby steps are important here. Being with someone who is happy to engage in a less public setting with you until you feel comfortable.
Accept the invites. If you do get invited to an event, say yes. If the anxiety starts to overcome you a little, check in with who else is going that you’re close to, get them to be your anxiety wingman and go with you so you don’t feel nervous about going somewhere alone.
Honesty. If you do have discomforts about social settings, be honest with people about it. your true friends will understand what you’re going through and offer support. Not pressurising you into anything you don’t want to do.
Talk to a professional. If things don’t seem to be working for you, try Cognitive behaviour therapy or something similar. CBT has proven to be beneficial for conditions such as social anxiety and can help you address your fears in a new effective way.
Don’t pressurise yourself into anything that is likely to give you a bad anxious reaction, sounds obvious, but the number of times we program ourselves to say yes to things and then panic about the situation later is crazy! Which brings me to another final point.
Be comfortable saying NO. If you don’t want to do it, say so.
Social anxiety takes a lot of time and courage to overcome various areas, make sure you are always taking things as slowly as you feel comfortable with. And as I say above, don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t always work out the way you wanted it to. There is always next time! 😊