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How Can I Cope with Post-Covid Social Anxiety? Part 2

In part 1 of this blog post we discussed what social anxiety is, why it may be happening and whether or not we may be experiencing it. As a refresher, social anxiety is when anxious feelings are present as a result of interacting with others. The presence of social anxiety has grown due to spending 12+ months barely speaking to or interacting with anyone, leading to the thought of socializing becoming incredibly daunting and overwhelming for many individuals. If the thought of conversing with people at a restaurant, making small talk, meeting and engaging with strangers, having the attention of others, or being assessed/judged by others makes you anxious, it’s likely you’re experiencing some form of social anxiety.

One Step at a Time

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has heard some form of “this year we need to make up for the year we missed last year”. While this is a lovely sentiment, it also puts an incredible amount of pressure on people to double their typical number of yearly plans in addition to newly developed or worsened social anxiety. This past year has been incredibly difficult. We’ve utilized it in different ways than we would’ve spent the past year if not for a global pandemic. It’s important to check in with who we are now, post the onset of a global pandemic, and act accordingly. It’s okay if one-on-one coffee dates outside is what can be managed now. We know social media can lead to negative comparisons in many aspects and socializing is no different. We may feel fomo or that we’re not taking advantage of “post-vaccine life” but there’s no right or wrong way to re-emerge into society. Setting small goals of social plans and modifying accordingly is a great way to ease back in.

Utilize Visualization

Many of us may not realize the impact of social anxiety until we’re in a public setting, surrounded by people. If we start to become overwhelmed, it’s helpful to use visualization exercises to take us to a place we find calming. By visualizing a serene, happy space, we allow our heart rates to slow and our bodies to relax.

Rely on Your Breathing

Breathing comes up in pretty much every blog post about every topic and that’s because it really works! “Since we experience anxiety in both the body and the mind, real relief comes about when we focus on relaxing both.” Taking the time to learn some breathing techniques can arm us with a tool we can use in any situation. Focusing on our breath brings us into the present moment and can be very grounding.

Communicate Honestly

While we may feel alone or isolated in our feelings of anxiety, I can guarantee you others are feeling the same way or similar. Professionally, about 98% of my clients have mentioned some form of social anxiety that has developed over the past year. Personally, the same sentiment has been shared amongst friends and family. Covid-19 has been incredibly difficult where to keep ourselves and other’s safe we’ve had to remain isolated. The feeling of social anxiety is not one that benefits in any way from keeping to ourselves. Being honest and telling others how we’ve been feeling opens up the door for them to tell us as well. It’s been an incredibly challenging year that has changed us all and will require us to get to know our loved ones again. Taking the first step in being vulnerable can give permission for others in your life to do so as well.

Reach Out to a Therapist 

Beginning to see a therapist is a great way to have guidance in exploring our feelings, emotions, anxieties, and the changes that have occurred over the past year. Mental health struggles are at an all-time high and there is absolutely no shame in reaching out for help.

If you’ve found yourself struggling to manage your anxiety or reacclimate to socializing as we approach a post-covid world, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists in Chicago today!

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