How to cope with post-lockdown social anxiety
For most people, the easing of lockdown can’t come soon enough. We’re looking forward to hugging our loved ones, spending time with friends and getting back to our hobbies. But for those who suffer with anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, the pandemic has been even more difficult to cope with. We’ve written about anxiety related to COVID-19 before, but what about the anxiety-inducing situations we’re faced with as lockdowns come to an end, from spending time in crowds, shaking hands and meeting new people? We’ve compiled some of our top tips for helping you to cope as the world reopens.
Talk to someone you can trust
Sharing your concerns and worries can help alleviate them, so find someone you can trust and who you feel comfortable talking to. There’s a good chance that they are feeling a similar way, which will help you to feel supported and like your worries aren’t unwarranted. If your anxiety is making it difficult to do things in your everyday life, it can be beneficial to speak to a counsellor who can help you get to the bottom of what’s bothering you.
You know yourself best, so consider the situations where you’re feeling the most anxious and think about how you can ease the nervousness you feel about them. For example, if the thought of taking public transport and being surrounded by crowds fills you with dread, is there a different way you can travel that will make the situation easier for you? Maybe you can travel at a different time of day so as to minimise the number of people around you. Taking a proactive approach to your anxiety can help you feel more in control, which can reduce the stress you feel.
Misinformation only fuels anxiety and makes social situations seem even more terrifying, so remember that education is key. Make sure you’re armed with the facts from reputable, reliable sources so that you can be confidence what is safe and what isn’t. However, try not to become consumed by “doom scrolling” through social media or watching the news too much if this causes further anxiety. Limit yourself to once a day to gather up to date information and stay up to date on the latest guidance from the experts to ease your worries.
Show yourself compassion
The easing of lockdown and returning to normality is another big adjustment, after over a year of strict guidelines, so be patient with yourself. There’s an expectation that once social activities are available, everyone should be returning to pre-pandemic life immediately. But that’s not necessarily the case for everyone, especially those with anxiety. So, don’t feel pressured to get involved if you’re not ready – take it at your own pace and be honest with those around you if you need more time to adjust.
Focus on the positives
Anxiety can shroud the positive aspects of situations, making it feel like there’s nothing enjoyable to look forward to. But remember that this is the anxiety talking and not the reality. While there are likely to be social distancing measures and masks involved for some time yet, there are still positives aspects to lockdowns being lifted. From visiting family to getting coffee with a friend, seeing colleagues you used to chat to in the office and taking part in distanced group activities once again, focus on the things that used to bring you joy. You may find it helpful to list out the things you’re looking forward to, so you can refer to it when you’re feeling anxious.
Social anxiety can be difficult to manage, and it can be a lonely experience that leaves those affected feeling disconnected. If you need support with your anxiety, our trained counsellors can help. We offer a range of counselling services, including cognitive behavioural therapy, online counselling and life coaching to suit your needs. Contact KlearMinds today to learn more.