4 tips on managing social anxiety after isolation
Does the return to social situations make you feel uneasy? You aren’t alone.
The coronavirus lockdown has been a great time for many to focus on slowing down and looking after their mental health but as some states return to socialising and what is now the “new normal” it can be uncomfortable. After months in isolation some of us are slowly coming out of hibernation, and with new important measures such as staying 1.5m apart, liberally applying hand sanitiser and avoiding hugs, handshakes and high-5s it isn’t always an easy transition.
Research published prior to coronavirus suggested that 13 per cent of Australians experience social anxiety1, with experts now suggesting that social anxiety can present in people with no prior history before COVID-19. Psychologist and Director of The Social Anxiety Institute2 defines social anxiety as “the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people.”
Common symptoms of social anxiety include2:
- Physical symptoms of anxiety in social situations (sweating, a racing heart, dizziness, nausea)
- Feeling pressured to participate in activities
- Worrying about what others think of you
- Withdrawing from conversation
Here are a few ways to manage social anxiety.
- Start small
Instead of rushing to a large gathering start by visiting one or two friends at a time. Be honest with how you are feeling and don’t be afraid to turn down a social situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Everyone is different
It is important to not compare ourselves to one another. Everyone's experience during lockdown has been different and how we handle the “new normal” will be too. Don’t compare your social comeback to your friends and family and take everything at your own pace.
- Back to work
Returning to the office is fun for some but for others it is met with dread. Advice from the government3 recommends that people work from home where possible but for those who are returning to the office chat to your employer about your options. This could mean staggered start times, socially distanced office layouts, parking rebates or shorter work days in the transition.
- Ask for help
If you are feeling overwhelmed or just want to talk to someone don’t be afraid to speak to a professional psychologist or your GP. For more information, support and guidance from mental health professionals, contact Head to Health or Beyond Blue 1800 512 348. The Head to Health website provides resources and information specifically related to mental health and COVID-19.
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