How To Overcome Social Anxiety After A Year Of Isolation
The emotional drainage that occurs after a year of isolation can fuel social anxiety. It is okay if the idea of returning to your pre-pandemic social life – both work and personal – feels daunting to you. You have spent over a year adapting to an entirely new reality, one filled with fear and uncertainty. It’s normal to now feel uncertain about what you initially thought would feel more liberating and exciting.
Even those for whom social settings never triggered anxiety before, the sudden and drastic shift from social to social isolation is significant enough to adversely impact anyone’s mental health. If you are experiencing some fears or concerns about returning to your social life or social settings in general, here are a few ways to help you overcome them:
Go at your own pace
Just because the situation around you is improving and more people are beginning to socialize in public again, it does not mean you have to be on the same timeline. Stick to a pace you are comfortable with, and ease back in by hanging out with one or two friends more consistently.
If you must return to the office for work and feel overwhelmed about seeing everyone at once, arrive early and head to your desk. Ease into the workday. Allow colleagues to say hello as they pass by your desk; this way, you can avoid bumping into everyone in the hallways or breakroom. There is no need to force yourself into an uncomfortable situation.
Continue practicing self-care
Be proactive about your mental health by prioritizing self-care. Practice breathing exercises and journaling or try visualizing an upcoming meet-up with a friend, thinking about what you will say or how you would like it to go.
Any of these practices can help you become more aware that you always have a safe space to turn to and feel grounded when you get overwhelmed.
Part of engaging in self-care also means staying safe and doing what feels comfortable for you. If you are not quite ready to venture back out into the social world and move at the pace you once did, remember that it’s okay to say no to social invitations.
Be kind to yourself
Treat yourself with compassion and patience. The same as you do not have to force yourself to do certain social things right away, you do not have to force yourself to feel different things, either. Let yourself feel afraid, and don’t shame yourself for feeling a certain way. Remember that you aren’t alone if you aren’t feeling like a social butterfly right now. It’s been a long year and many have gotten used to being alone or in limited social bubbles.
Reach out for help
It’s important for anyone suffering from clinical anxiety, general or social, to reach out for support. If the fear and panic you feel are interfering with your ability to get back to your social routine after isolation, a mental health professional can help you work through it and ease your social anxiety.
Our COPE-supported centers are here to help. Reach out today for your complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.