With social restrictions loosening, the thought of increased socialization can be both exciting and anxiety producing. Many of us have longed for the day we could go back to pre-covid socializing. Despite this longing, you may notice some anxiety surfacing around socializing. This blog explains why social anxiety is increasing and provides several coping tools as we begin our “re-integration” into society.
I’ve Been Longing to Get Back to “Normal,” So Why Am I Feeling Anxious?
You might be asking yourself that exact question. Know that you are not alone- Healthline notes that “long periods of social isolation can increase social anxiety.” The article notes that even those who have never experienced social anxiety before are struggling. The struggle to adjust to pandemic life this last year can be easier to understand than the struggle to adjust to pre-pandemic life. You might have expected the transition to pre-pandemic life to be seamless; however, “now that we’re used to isolating so much, it’s going to be yet another transition to engage with others socially in person again.”
So How Can I Make My Adjustment Easier?
Now that you know why you might be anxious, you might be asking how do I make all of this easier? The best way to transition is taking gradual steps towards socializing. You might be itching to throw a party or go on a trip, but small steps may feel less risky.
It might be a good idea to meet a friend or two for coffee or a drink first. Depending on your anxiety level after that, lunch or dinner with a friend or small group of friends might be a great next step. Healthline also notes that it is helpful to “make the initial interactions short” and “gradually increase as your comfort level improves.” If taking small steps is not possible, know that you are not alone in feeling social anxiety. It might be helpful to acknowledge your social anxiety with friends before getting together. Chances are some of your friends might be feeling similarly.