5 TIPS TO HELP MANAGE SOCIAL ANXIETY AS LOCKDOWN EASES
It is no surprise to anyone that anxiety levels have risen since the first lockdown one year ago. Not only are people anxious about the rates of Covid-19 increasing, but our social skills have been on pause for the last year. You may feel totally alone in your anxieties about lockdown easing, but these worries are shared globally. Here are our tips to help you cope with social anxiety as lockdown eases.
Take it a day at a time
As exciting as it seems to get back to the pub, go to festivals, and spend time catching up with friends – this can be very daunting for some people. We will be going from one extreme to the other, so nobody can be expected to transition back to normality immediately.
The key is to be patient with yourself and others. You don’t have to go to every social event to make up for lost time, and you cannot allow others to pressure you. There’s a lot of healing that needs to be done, so don’t set any expectations of milestones of yourself. Take it a day at a time and normality will gradually return – but at your own pace.
Talk to friends
We understand that talking to friends, even via text messages, can be draining. However, friends are there for a reason, and there’s a high chance that they are in a similar situation to yourself. This could be very reassuring as you both work to take baby steps into normality.
On the other hand, your friends may be able to provide tips to slowly help your anxieties decrease. They shouldn’t pressure you into a situation where you feel uncomfortable. A true friendship is where you can sit in comfortable silence together, after all!
Be kind to yourself
We have been/are in a global pandemic that has been completely out of our control. Give yourself some credit for surviving! You cannot go through this period kicking yourself because you don’t want to socialize every day. Practice kindness to yourself – instead of telling yourself that you are a burden in social situations, treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. You can allow yourself to be scared and nervous, and still be kind to yourself.
Practice self-care activities
Social situations can be draining even without a pandemic. It’s important to make time and space for yourself to rejuvenate and reset yourself. Try setting aside an evening to make or order your favourite meal and watch your favourite film. Buy a paint by numbers. Listen to new music and make a playlist that makes you feel good. Go outside for a walk by yourself to take in some fresh air.
Search for help
If you are struggling, you can always find professional help. Private counselling can be costly but will be almost immediate, and NHS local counselling services are a great way to get free help. There are online services such as Samaritans who run a free calling service to talk to a stranger anonymously. There is never any shame in asking for help, because everyone deserves it.
As lockdown eases, anxieties are bound to be high. Don’t pressure yourself to make up for lost time with everyone. Of course, some people will naturally want to make the most of normal life again, but that doesn’t mean that you have to. Be kind to yourself and put your own mental health first.
By Imogen Killner
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