Coping with Social Anxiety
As we start to ease out of lockdown with shops and restaurants reopening , society is beginning to be a little more social again . After months of not being able to see friends or family in close proximity , people are starting to slowly fill up their social calendars.
The prospect of returning to a somewhat normal life will be very exciting for some . But for others like myself this can cause anxiety .
If you normally struggle with social anxiety , lockdown has probably been a great relief for you. I personally relished the fact that there were no expectations to go anywhere or meet up with anyone . I liked that staying home alone and avoiding others when out in public became socially acceptable . It was basically a free pass to hide away and avoid my fears.
Although this provided a temporary respite , it made the thought of socialising again very scary at first. If you feel this way too and are panicking about the thought of socialising again , here are some things that have helped me cope . I hope they can help you too .
Ease into it slowly
Instead of jumping in head first and overwhelming myself , I took a slow approach when I started to interact with people face to face again. At first I only met up with 1 person at a time and planned in advance to allow myself to leave after 1 hour if I wanted to . When I got used to that , I increased it to 2 people and encouraged myself to stay a bit longer. I find that doing something little and often is the best way to get comfortable with it.
It’s also important to be able to hold boundaries for yourself during this time. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a bar or restaurant or meeting up with larger groups , stand your ground and just say no. Take things at your own pace and don’t let anyone rush you.
Accept that it may be a little awkward at first
I recently met up with a friend for an outdoor park workout and it was so awkward that I felt like I had just met up with her for the first time ever. I didn’t know how to keep the conversation going and felt really flustered.
I came home feeling that I had suddenly lost the social confidence that I had worked so hard to build . But I persisted anyway and thankfully it felt much more natural and normal the second time we met. She told me that she had also been feeling awkward the first time and was worried that she had forgotten how to socialise, which I think is something many people can relate to .
Talking to friends or family face to face may feel unnatural for a short time but don’t give up . This weird phase will pass, and quicker than you may think. Socialising is just like anything else, the more you practise , the easier it gets.
Share your worries with loved ones
I’ve never been a huge lover of crowds but I noticed that they have been making me even more anxious since lockdown began , especially while food shopping.
At first my partner got frustrated at me for rushing him around the supermarket at lightning speed. But once I told him that the crowds were making me uneasy , he was able to comfort me in these situations . So instead of freaking out and avoiding supermarkets forever and sending him to do all of the shopping , I now feel supported enough to keep going and push myself out of my comfort zone.
Sharing your anxieties with someone you trust will take some of the pressure off of you to get it right 100% of the time as life starts to get busier again.
Keep a positivity journal
One of the most helpful things I’ve been doing lately is keeping a positivity journal. When the first few times socialising after lockdown got me down I decide to start a journal to challenge my negative beliefs . My main beliefs were that I had no social skills and that I made everyone feel awkward.
Throughout the day, I would ( and still do! ) actively look for reasons to oppose those beliefs. Random stranger smiles at me and strikes up a conversation in the queue? There’s proof that I don’t make everyone feel awkward. Actively participating in a work meeting instead of just observing . That requires some kind of social skills!
The events you write about can be as big or small as you like . The main thing is to challenge your negative beliefs and prove to yourself that you are capable.
This blog was written by one of my clients who had suffered from crippling social anxiety before starting her sessions with me. If you have any questions or would like to speak to me then either contact me through my Business Facebook page A New Chapter Life Coaching or tel Donna on 07751959216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer a free 45 min initial consultation .