After over a year of social isolation for most of us, it’s natural to fear going back into society. Even if you’ve never had social anxiety, which is anxiety caused by being in social, crowded, or group situations, you may experience some level of social anxiety from re-engaging with your previously “normal” life. For those of you that transitioned from an office or in-person work setting to working at home, the transition to go back to work in an in-person setting may trigger some level of anxiety. Or maybe even in-person get togethers with your friends in a group, when you haven’t been around more than just a few people all year, may be a cause of anticipated worry. Even just a change in routine, from what you’ve been doing all year, to what you used to do for years prior, can cause a spike in adrenaline for some of us.
Perhaps you’re worried that you’ve lost your social skills, or you no longer desire to make “small talk” with others who you have no interest in getting to know. Or, for many of us, we experienced some level of depression or loneliness over the past year and we’re different people than we were prior to the pandemic. Maybe you’ve developed different interests or passions over the past year, and no longer have things in common with your usual friend group. Many of us have relocated, and found it difficult to meet new friends or colleagues due to the social isolation of COVID restrictions and you’re fearing having to meet new people all over again. Whatever your situation, your life is changed from what it was a year ago, and going back to anything may cause you some anxiety and this is very normal.
However, there are some things you can do to mitigate your anticipated social anxiety once you re-enter society after COVID is over.
Be Confident in What You Choose to Do
One thing this past year has taught us is that it’s ok to be more intentional with our choices. Many of us have more time on our hands, due to no commutes, and so we’ve had more freedom to choose to do things that we enjoy, not just that we have time to do. Take this same concept and apply it to your re-entry into society. Choose first to do the things that you are most confident in doing. If you got really good at playing foosball in the past year, then make this activity one of your first options. Confidence in what you do can help temper your anxiety. Maybe picking up knitting was your passion this past year, in which case joining a knitting group can give you something to do with your hands that keeps your mind off your social anxiety.
Practice Social Skills Online First
Another good option is to practice your social skills in an online setting prior to returning to in-person activities. You may feel rusty interacting in groups, so why not try an online support group to help you get back into the mode of socializing with others? Online support groups are great options for practicing skills because they are a safe setting, often confidential (when led by a licensed therapist), and you get the added benefit of making connections with others that you would not normally meet. Check out our prior blog on Support Groups in Denver – Are They Effective? to learn more about different support groups in Colorado and how they can help you manage social anxiety.
Learn Some Relaxation Skills
It is completely normal to experience some social anxiety after this pandemic year as you start to go out and about some more. Crowded places or situations in particular may be unusually triggering as we haven’t been in any of these situations in over a year. So just take your time, do some preparation work by following these three tips, and that should help you get back to your previous worry-free life.
How We Can Help
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Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, guest blogger, and owner of Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.