Many with social anxiety feel overwhelmed with the idea of interacting with others as the world reopens. You may have become accustomed to staying home. Or, you felt relief knowing you didn’t have to interact with others due to the pandemic. Now, you don’t have an easy excuse for social distancing. You’re left worrying about how you will cope with your social anxiety in a post-pandemic world.
Social Anxiety In The New Normal
I understand that your social anxiety may lead you to feel extra overwhelmed at the moment. It’s hard to think about putting yourself in uncomfortable social situations. Especially after dealing with them all the time before the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, a recent 2021 study shows that many adults with social anxiety reported an increase in symptoms during the pandemic. Before, you may have pushed through those fears and the discomfort they brought. But, during the pandemic, you had an excuse to be more introverted. Social distancing allowed you to avoid your fears. In the end, this only reinforced them and made them more frightening.
Social anxiety is one of the more common anxiety disorders. In fact, approximately 12% of the American population has been diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of a social anxiety disorder include:
- Extreme fear of being judged
- Worry of being embarrassed or humiliated
- Anxiety about offending someone
- Preoccupation with being liked or worry over being disliked
- Catastrophising (always imagining the worst possible situation or outcome)
- Preoccupation with past social events and analyzing things you said/did
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle tension
- Feeling breathless/lightheaded, etc.
These symptoms may make social situations unbearable. You have to worry about what’s going to happen before, what’s happening during, and what happens after the event. Something like a school drop-off, coffee break, or going to a happy hour event can make you anxious and upset.
Now, more adults (and some teens) are becoming vaccinated. As a result, schools, offices, religious institutions are reopening. You’re likely being asked to socialize with others more often. You had a nice break. But, now it’s time to get some help coping with your social anxiety. This way, you can feel more comfortable in the post-pandemic world.
Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety
Take a deeeeeeep breath and repeat
To even begin to cope with the anxiety you’re feeling you first need to be able to think in a clear and calm way. You can’t do that when your adrenaline is pumping. Anxiety causes your body to go into fight or flight mode. Although it can be helpful in times of true danger, it’s unhelpful when overcoming social anxiety.
The quickest way to overcome social anxiety and regulate your body is to breathe deep. Breathe in and out slowly. Repeat this until your pulse begins to slow, your muscles become less tense, and the calm begins to wash over you.
Realize that some anxiety is normal
Everyone gets nervous at times. Certain social situations like public speaking scare most people. But, worrying about your worry only makes it worse. It’s okay to have concerns about what others think about you. But, we don’t want this concern to become so large that it prevents you from interacting with others. Part of dealing with social anxiety is recognizing it and normalizing it. Know that you’re not alone in your fear and help is available.
Accept that your anxious thoughts may not be grounded in reality
Do you worry that everyone dislikes you? Or obsess about people judging you and talking about you behind your back? If this sounds like you, ask yourself if those thoughts are true. If you’re still unsure, it can help to ask your partner or a trusted friend. Explain that you’re feeling anxious about ____ and would appreciate their input.
You may have worries around the fear you’ll have an unpleasant time in certain social situations. Or you worry about who you may run into. In this case, ask yourself if your worry has a basis in evidence or if you’re worried about something that you have no control of. It might even something that may not become reality.
Focus on the actual social task you’re being asked to complete
Ask yourself, what’s the goal of this? Here’s an example: you go out to dinner with a client you’re trying to impress. This makes you nervous. Take a breath and ask yourself, what’s the end goal here? Your goal may be to build credibility with your client. Or, it’s to close a deal.
Try shifting the focus away from wondering if they’ll like you, or if your joke was bad. Moving it towards something goal-orientated can actually disrupt your anxiety cycle. This can help you get through your discomfort.
Practice tolerating discomfort
In this case, you have to expose yourself to situations that may be outside your comfort zone. To move forward and overcome the anxiety that’s making your life difficult, you must face your fears. Accept that this is an opportunity to grow.
If your anxiety feels like too much handle on your own, please know that a trained therapist can help. The thought of calling and talking to a therapist that you don’t know might be off-putting to you. I imagine you’ll find that once you take the chance you’ll begin to feel relief. Furthermore, your therapist had likely heard it all. They will not judge you or your social anxiety.
Begin Anxiety Treatment in Roswell, GA
If you live near Atlanta or anywhere in the state of Georgia, our anxiety therapists would love to talk with you about the ways they can help you through this tough time. A skilled therapist is ready to provide the support you deserve from our Roswell, GA-based therapy practice. Follow these steps to begin anxiety treatment in Roswell, GA:
- Contact our Roswell, GA practice
- Meet a caring anxiety therapist
- Start overcoming your anxiety, and feeling calmer!