Severe stress can impact you physically and mentally. It can lead to symptoms like headaches, chronic health issues, and sleep problems, just to name a few. Our ability to cope with stress greatly affects the way it shows up in our lives.
As we move into the next chapter of this collective experience of the global pandemic, it probably feels daunting for a good amount of people – especially for those that live with social anxiety. Social anxiety can already be extremely debilitating without the added stress of a pandemic, and social interactions completely changed when everything began shutting down to try and keep citizens safe and healthy. Now that operations are beginning to resume back to normal, those that struggle with social anxiety may feel extra overwhelmed at the thought of the new social norms that will be in place. Reaching out to a licensed mental health professional can help an immense amount as we are going through these changes. Dr. Messina & Associates, located in Southlake, TX, are proficient in diagnosing and treating various anxiety disorders, so you don’t have to endure this shift alone.
Social anxiety is a condition that creates intense fear and stress surrounding certain social situations. Social anxiety can vary from person to person in its severity, and studies show that women are more likely than men to be affected by it. Those that struggle with social anxiety might have even been quite elated when lockdowns and isolation began, because this meant that there would be no social gatherings until things started to become safe again. For many people with social anxiety, though, this past year could have potentially hindered any progress that was being made in moving past the feelings of needing to avoid social scenarios.
Now that the numbers of COVID-19 are on the decline, establishments are opening back up, and events and gatherings are resuming – social anxiety is at an all-time high for many. On top of already feeling unease when it comes to social settings, there is now the added stress and pressure of feeling fully safe when out in public – especially when it took most of us a while to even become comfortable with the massive changes of not being allowed to see our friends, family, and coworkers in the first place. Being isolated for the better part of a year of course will have effects on some and their eagerness to go out and socialize, even if they didn’t struggle with their mental health and social anxiety before all this.
It’s safe to say that most of us are figuring out how to navigate everything now that we are easing into the post-pandemic stage in society, and it undoubtedly feels strange and unnatural to return to being in crowds and social settings after placing such an emphasis on avoiding these exact scenarios not long ago. It is an intricate situation to work through, and really the best thing you can do if you were dealing with social anxiety before the pandemic or have developed it because of the conditions is to be gracious and patient with yourself. The following tips can help you when it comes to handling social anxiety in a post-pandemic world.
A great way to remain comfortable in times that are anything but that is to only spend time with your closest friends or family – at least to begin with. Keeping your circle tight and only hanging out in places that you feel safe and comfortable is an awesome first step towards getting a better handle on your levels of social anxiety. You want to be around people that do not stress you out or that you feel like you have to put up a front while you’re around them, and this will ideally help you feel more secure with the concept of being in other social settings in due time.
A huge reason the last year has felt so difficult for so many is likely because there were very few things we were able to control, and this can lead to way higher levels of anxiety – and certainly social anxiety as we move into post-pandemic circumstances. When it comes to processing anxiety and learning how to successfully manage it, you’ll eventually have to come to terms with the fact that there is no way to completely control what life throws at you. Instead, focus on what you can regulate – such as your friend group, not going places at peak times, and how long you decide to stay at a given place if you’re worried about anxiety creeping in.
A vital element to keep in mind is that you should never diminish or devalue your feelings and experiences. It is completely okay to feel a higher-than-normal degree of social anxiety right now – after all, what we had to endure was very unforeseen and potentially even traumatizing. Have compassion towards yourself and remember that there will always be good days and not so good ones and bottling up how you feel will only end up making things more difficult. Allow yourself time to work through your emotions and anything else that might have surfaced during this time, reach out to a therapist, and try to accept that everything you’ve felt and experienced is real and valid.
It is easy to understand how a lot of people are facing social anxiety that is worse than ever before after the year we have been through. With the combination of being isolated, being told that it is extremely unsafe to be out in public and to spend time with others, and the stress of potentially falling ill, it’s understandably going to take some time to get back in the swing of things and feel better about being social. If you had preexisting social anxiety and feel like you’ve regressed in your progress because of the circumstances, you can without a doubt get back to where you were prior to all of this and continue to make heavy strides in managing your social anxiety.
If you or someone you love are in need of psychiatric services for anxiety, please reach out to our team in Southlake, TX. We specialize in handling anxiety and depression in children, adolecents, and adults through cognitive behavioral therapy and medication management. We currently offer in-person appointments to patients in our Southlake (DFW) offices. We also offer online appointments to patients in the Austin, DFW, Houston, and San Antonion areas.
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