How To Deal With Social Anxiety As Communities Ease Lockdown Restrictions

Man sitting at a table looking out a wondow.
Unsplash | Yasmina H
Health

After a long year of dealing with the problems caused by lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, many states are lifting restrictions and allowing people to return to socializing. While that should seem exciting to many who have been dealing with the uneasiness of isolation, it creates another kind of social anxiety.

In fact, some individuals have grown accustomed to being alone, and the idea of being social feels like a tough challenge.

There are ways to deal with those anxious feelings though, and they offer quick, positive results.  
 

Start Slowly

Just like with other challenges in life, getting back to being social needs to be approached with the right mindset, and going slowly is perhaps the best way for individuals to deal with social anxiety.

Psychiatrist Allie R. Shapiro suggests connecting with those close friends first. The idea is that being around those you can feel “most like yourself with” will help eliminate any stress (via Healthline).  

After gathering with close friends, Shapiro suggests hanging out with other friends a little at a time. 
 

Try Breathing Exercises

Woman practicing deep breathing on a sofa.
Shutterstock | 1020994

Taking deep breaths is one of the best things you can do to relieve tension.

Mark Debus MSW LCSW, told Bustle magazine that focusing on breathing relaxes the body and mind simultaneously. In addition, focused breathing can be done anywhere, and it offers incredible benefits.

“The beauty of these approaches is that you can begin to experience real relief in just a few minutes, even sitting in your car,” he said.

Many apps offer mindfulness and guided breathing techniques to help calm frayed nerves.
 

Visualize Peaceful Surroundings

Along with deep breathing, visualization can go a long way when it comes to handling a stressful situation. Taking a moment to close your eyes and visualize a calm, peaceful place can be done just about anywhere. 

Whether that spot is your bedroom, a quiet place in the forest, or a sunny spot on a deserted beach, taking a picturing yourself there has a calming effect. Debus suggested staying in that place until you feel your body and mind release tension. 
 

Accept That You Might Be Afraid
 

Despite all of the advice and calming techniques out there, sometimes anxiety and fear are just going to be a part of life. Feeling those emotions is perfectly fine.

“Remember, no one has ever been through anything like this in the modern world, so no one really knows how to do it ‘right.’ Even the experts don’t have all the answers, so it’s normal to have your own uncertainties and doubts,” Shapiro said.

Those feelings might be uncomfortable, but accepting them helps eliminate anxiety about having them in the first place.