Lockdown, caused by the coronavirus pandemic has turned the commonly chosen option of isolation into a mandatory step, where we’ve spent the last year at home, with limited face to face interaction.

Such impacts have increased the rate of social anxiety diagnoses, where limited interaction has become the norm, painting the readjustment of life as an anxious step.

For those with social anxiety, lockdown may have provided respite from the trigger of socialisation. However, as we ease out of lockdown and social distancing restrictions, the concern is placed on the response of those with pre-existing symptoms of social anxiety.

Readjustment will be tough for the entire population. Life as we once knew, now epitomising freedom will not return for a while, where we will need to readjust to the easing of UK lockdown restrictions.

Here’s how to ease your way out of lockdown when you have social anxiety, providing safe and proactive steps to protect your mental health while regaining a sense of control, choice and familiarity.

 

What is social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is a form of anxiety that surrounds fears and worries of social exposure, meeting people, interactivity and mass engagement. Symptoms showcase themselves through common signs of anxiety, physically through increased heart rate, trembling and nausea, and psychologically through worry, irritability and insomnia.

Such symptoms, paired with concern over leaving the house, visiting new places, speaking to people, avoiding socialisation and struggling with self-belief and confidence are signs of social anxiety disorder.

As humans, socialising is a big part of our lives, yet for those with fears of social situations and engagements, such natural responses have usually been deterred by trauma, consequential associations, excessive isolation and genetics.

 

Social anxiety and lockdown

Living with social anxiety can be extremely tough, as it wipes away our natural response to engage and interact. Both are very healthy and important to relationships, which is a physical and psychological need of self-fulfilment.

Without such engagement, loneliness is known to heighten, feelings of isolation can become the norm, and mental health issues can emerge, such as social anxiety.

Such a degree of isolation has involuntarily been experienced by the world through recent lockdowns. Delving into a new type of norm, such consequences have likely offered respite for those with existing symptoms of social anxiety. Socialisation has been reduced to a bare minimum, which has also decreased the presence of social expectations.

However, while experiencing social anxiety and lockdown together may seem like a good thing, by reducing triggers of socialisation, social expectations and norms are returning, causing even greater panic for many individuals.

Lockdown has also seen the emergence of new social anxiety diagnoses, as many individuals worry about the coming months, favour the option to be at home, struggle to readjust to consistent exposure and find it hard to break the habit of low engagement.

As the easing of UK lockdowns will therefore impact those with pre-existing signs of social anxiety and those with newly emerging signs, it’s imperative that management steps are communicated. Here’s how to ease your way out of lockdown when you have social anxiety, symptoms of or worries over returning to norms.

 

How to ease your way out of lockdown when you have social anxiety

We are creatures of habit, where our environments and exposure have a significant impact on how we feel and look at the world. As lockdown has forced change, many of us have also experienced adaptations in our outlooks and how we respond to social situations. If you’re feeling anxious as lockdown restrictions lift, here are some tips to follow, to alleviate worry.

 

Take small steps

Just as restrictions have been lifted slowly, take this time to personally take small steps when considering the readjustment of life. This is the time to be patient, to build up your social exposure and to truly focus on your mental health.

 

Gain perspective and presence

Living inside one’s head is very common for someone with social anxiety. While easier said than done, one way to ease your way out of lockdown will be to gain perspective and presence. Consider your feelings, digest them, consider the choices of others, and most importantly, be present and take in your experiences.

In your mind, social situations may be scary. Yet, in reality, small steps towards socialisation can be positive and fulfilling.

 

Acknowledge your worries

Many individuals will hide away from social anxiety. Instead of this, it’s important to acknowledge and share your worries. There will be a lot of people in the same position, concerned about returning to normality, about catching covid-19 and about reverting to the expectations of society. There’s a high chance you will not be alone with your symptoms of social anxiety.

 

Promote self-care

How to ease your way out of lockdown when you have social anxiety should surround self-care. You should care about yourself; you should think about your feelings; you should promote a lifestyle that encourages health, positivity and growth.

Finding positive coping strategies and incorporating them into your lifestyle will ease your way out of lockdown, with a focus on self-care, worth and confidence.

 

Surround yourself with positivity

Those around you should empathise, should care, should accept you for who you are and your experiences of social anxiety. By surrounding yourself with positivity, including the environments you visit, to the people you engage with, your worries over socialisation should begin to diminish.

Focus on the good, instead of the bad, to readjust slowly at your own pace, instead of following the structure and pace of everyone else in the midst of normalisation and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

 

Consider social anxiety therapy

If you are truly struggling, therapy will be worthwhile to work through your symptoms of social anxiety. A mixture of online resources face to face therapy sessions and management tips can be obtained and experienced to understand and ease your symptoms.

 

Sourcing support for social anxiety

The majority of society may be happy to return to normality, by visiting social areas, by returning to mass engagement and by following usual schedules and routine. However, you do not have to follow this similar pace, when considering your social anxiety diagnosis should be the first priority.

If you’re struggling, at Asana Lodge we’re here to offer reassurance and guidance as the world returns to a sense of normality. How to ease your way out of lockdown when you have social anxiety should be personal, should consider your needs, and should be at your own pace. However, it’s also encouraged that you do take action and avoid the long-term impacts of social anxiety.

We’re here to take small steps with you to ease yourself back into a comfortable state, post-lockdown.

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