Have you been riddled with social anxiety since the pandemic? The pandemic and social distancing has made socializing seem impossible. What used to be a routine trip to the grocery store can seem intimidating. Meeting up for lunch with friends can feel nearly impossible. Not to mention trying to go on a first date after surviving a global pandemic can be terrifying.
Feeling fearful, embarrassed, or nervous about socializing is normal, but it shouldn’t be debilitating. There are so many great experiences awaiting you when socializing with others. If you’re trying to find ways to get back out there, use these five ways to help manage your social anxiety.
1. Adapt Routine Activities
If you struggle with running errands or going to appointments, you don’t have to do them the way they’ve always been done. Adapt your routine activities to make yourself more comfortable. If you’re nervous about going to the grocery store, try curbside pickup, delivery, or consider more frequent trips to smaller stores. You don’t always have to force yourself to go into stress-inducing places.
If you experience social anxiety or a fear of doctors’ offices, an online doctor is an excellent idea. You can visit a professional without the anxiety-inducing trip to the doctor’s office. You can meet with a doctor in the privacy of your own home. Your doctor can also prescribe any medications that are needed. Social anxiety is daunting, but a professional can also help.
2. Try Grounding Yourself
There are many different grounding techniques that can help you manage your social anxiety. Grounding techniques get you to focus on something other than your anxiety. Recalling your grocery list or favorite movies distracts you from anxious thoughts. It’s not likely that every grounding technique will work for you, so continue to try new ones. This is a simple, yet helpful way to manage social anxiety.
Practice breathing through your anxiety. Breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, and breathe out for five. This breathing exercise can help you manage any symptoms of anxiety you are feeling. If you are feeling overwhelmed in the situation, find a quiet place to practice your breathing.
3. Create a Healthy Routine
Having a routine can help you feel more in control of your social anxiety. You can decide that on Fridays you schedule one social activity. This can be as small as meeting a friend for coffee or something big like going to the local fair with friends. Scheduling these activities in advance can allow you time to mentally prepare. However, try not to socially overload one part of the week, or you might stress yourself out.
Incorporating exercise into your routine should also be a priority. Mental and physical health are interconnected, as improving one improves the other. Make sure to exercise on a regular basis, and eat foods that fuel your body. If you don’t tend to your body’s basic needs, then it will likely exacerbate the symptoms of your social anxiety. If you are not mindfully feeding your body, then you are mindlessly feeding your anxiety.
4. Write it Out
Writing is a powerful tool to explore how you’re feeling. Journaling any anxious thoughts may help you break down any triggers or patterns. Intentionally analyzing past social situations can help you find what coping mechanisms work for you. Writing can also help you release those anxious feelings onto paper.
Writing can also be a way to keep your mind focused on priorities, rather than anxious thoughts. You can write a script for any phone calls you need to make or list conversation topics before going on a date. If you are nervous about calling in a take-out order, writing down what you want can be helpful. Then when you’re on the call, all you need to do is read what you’ve written.
5. Challenge the Way Your Brain Works
Social anxiety is a mental condition, and in order to manage it, you have to manage the way you think. Positive affirmations can help challenge negative thoughts. When experiencing social anxiety it’s common to have a negative thought process. Use positive affirmations like, “I am capable of more than I think” to challenge negativity. Affirmations can help change the thought process of the brain by creating new neural pathways.
Another way to challenge your thought process is to set aside time to worry. Though this may seem counterintuitive, allow yourself a limited time to worry. When you notice you are starting to worry, shut it down by reminding yourself you have time to worry later. A lot of the time you will not remember these dismissed worries later. And stopping these worries will allow you to focus on being present in the social situation.
Remember You Are More Than Your Anxiety
While these tips can help with social anxiety, remember there are people to help you cope. Therapy can help you find what triggers your anxiety. Exploring this can help you find where your social anxiety stems from. You can also learn tools like deep breathing and other grounding techniques. A therapist can also teach you how to stay present and analyze social situations. You can learn from the past and plan for the future.
You are not alone in experiencing social anxiety. The pandemic forced many people to self-isolate. You can manage your social anxiety by seeking treatment, learning tools to cope, and setting goals for yourself. Allow yourself a set time to worry and practice positive affirmations. Gradually introduce activities that will force you to face your anxiety. You can make it through this.