5 Tips on How To Cope with Post-Pandemic Social Anxiety
We are slowly beginning to see the world open up as vaccines start to become more available.
While safety precautions still need to be followed, it is exciting to know that we can safely see our friends and become social again. However, you may have noticed an edge of anxiety in your excitement. You may feel anxious about socializing as we had such a long break from in-person socializing, it can feel foreign to get back into it.
The most important thing to know is that this is normal! Many people are experiencing this and we're all learning how to cope together. If you're struggling with this, here are five tips for how to cope with post-pandemic social anxiety.
1. Start Small
It might be challenging to join large gatherings after spending so much time alone and you don't overwhelm yourself by going to a busy environment or joining a large social group. It may be a good idea to start small by scheduling a hangout with just one or two close friends. You can pick a quiet environment, like your house or a spacious outdoor location. You will feel much more comfortable and less anxious.
2. Pace Yourself
There will be so many planned social events this summer. We missed an entire year of hanging out with our friends and we want to make up for that time. You might feel compelled to say "yes" to every invite you receive, but this can cause social burnout. You are allowed to say no to some events and schedule your hangouts at the pace that feels most comfortable to you. If you feel fine going to back-to-back hangouts, that's amazing, but it's okay if you still need alone time to recharge.
3. Challenge Negative Thoughts
What negative thoughts begin to arise when you feel anxious about social situations? Take a moment to pause when notice a thought like, "What if they don't like me?"Acknowledge the negative thought and then create positive counter-thoughts to challenge these false beliefs. You're worried that you're too shy to make new friends? Challenge this thought by saying, "I'm amazing and people will want to be friends with me. It can be scary to start conversations, but they will love me once people get to know me!" It takes a lot of practice and patience to challenge all your negative thoughts successfully. Still, you will feel so much more confident when you begin to focus on positive reinforcement rather than your fears and criticisms.
4. Be Honest with Your Friends
Your friends love you, which means that they just want you to feel happy and comfortable. Opening up to our friends about social anxiety isn't easy, and it can be even more complicated when your friends have never experienced anxiety themselves. However, if they're good friends, they'll be happy you trusted them with the information. You don't have to tell everyone—even just telling a few friends can be helpful because you know they can help in stressful situations. It's always best to best open and honest with our friends. It means we don't have to struggle alone, and you may even be surprised how many of our friends are experiencing the same feelings.
5. Show Yourself Compassion
The pandemic isolated everyone and it's daunting to reenter the world. You may be frustrated at yourself because you feel like you should be able to socialize without any fears or worries—but that's not fair. You are doing the best you can! It might take a little time and patience before you're able to socialize as you did before the pandemic. Be kind to yourself as you challenge negative thoughts and step out of your comfort zone. Give yourself time and space to recharge and introvert when you need. Treat yourself like you would treat a friend.
As a reminder, it's okay to ask for help if you're struggling with anxiety! Sometimes anxiety can be too difficult to handle alone and it's always okay to talk to a professional, so you can receive a little more guidance.
Need some style inspiration for your future social outings? Check out Emma Chamberlain's Summer 2021 style guide, so you look your best to feel your best!