Social Anxiety in a Pandemic World

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Social anxiety is tumultuous enough to cope with on its own. However, with the continued effects of the coronavirus complicating social events, anxieties surrounding social gatherings can be further exacerbated, even compromising once-effective coping strategies.

It is normal to feel one’s social anxiety symptoms increasing. However, it is also important to understand how this ongoing pandemic can further compromise one’s learned strategies. Creating an effective plan for dealing with social anxiety in a world still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus is vital.

Understanding Social Anxiety 

Social anxiety is a common anxiety disorder that can affect anyone. Each person may have their own unique symptoms and threshold for resilience. However, those who suffer from social anxiety are largely affected by feelings of fear surrounding large gatherings or meeting new people. Those suffering from this kind of anxiety may have irrational or illogical thoughts or feelings regarding these kinds of events. While it is possible that one is aware of their illogical nature, these feelings of anxiety are still very real.

Some of the symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Fear of meeting new people
  • Thinking one is being judged
  • Perpetual fear of embarrassment
  • Jumping to worst-case scenarios
  • Avoidance of social gatherings
  • Hyperfocused on perceived flaws or imperfections
  • Sweating/shaking

There are many more ways in which social anxiety can affect a person. Even the fear that an individual is expressing symptoms of social anxiety in the first place can itself be a source of further anxiety, which can feel overwhelming.

However social anxiety affects an individual, the continued social and emotional implications of the pandemic may have had a negative impact on one’s ability to cope with these effects.

The Continued Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has had a massive impact on everyone’s life, from financial and personal effects to traumatic experiences, and especially the social impact. While closed storefronts and restricted social gatherings may seem like a blessing to those for whom large gatherings would otherwise be a major source of anxiety, the detrimental effects of COVID-19 cannot be understated.

For some, social anxiety may have even developed as a result of the pandemic. Lockdowns and the life-threatening nature of the virus may have made meeting with friends difficult. They also introduced a very real source of fear, leading to anxiety around populated spaces or meeting new people due to the uncertainty and danger.

Others who have suffered from social anxiety in the past may find that their once irrational fears are being reinforced, establishing a dangerous precedent for jumping to worst-case scenarios. Even smaller gatherings may have been compromised, making it difficult to continue practicing social skills.

Fluctuating restrictions depending on the state and local community can also create a sense of unease or inconsistency, adding to the plethora of anxieties that already exist. With all of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very easy for social anxiety to present itself while avoiding the necessary avenues for dealing with it.

Unfortunately, this can also make for a very anxious reintroduction as an individual is asked to return to the workplace or attend social events. As restrictions are lifted, it is also possible that those who have been feeling stuck inside will want to throw larger celebrations to try to “make up for” the lost social time, making one’s already stressful reintroduction even more difficult.

Taking the First Step and Hosting Yourself

Recognizing that this unprecedented situation has affected social anxiety in a unique way is paramount. While that does not mitigate one’s feelings of anxiety, it can help inform an individual better address their feelings of social anxiety in a new way. One’s previously effective coping strategies may not have been developed with the global effects of the coronavirus in mind, so it may be necessary to start learning new strategies.

Going to events can be filled with fearful uncertainty. Hosting one’s own gathering can be the best way to ensure that guest lists remain manageable and safe. Inviting only a few others who have been fully vaccinated and taking necessary precautions can help mitigate some feelings of fear. One’s own home can feel like the safest place to begin working through these new stresses.

However, it is common that the anxieties produced by the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic can be both overwhelming and incredibly complicated to cope with due to this unprecedented world event. Reaching out to professionals may be necessary depending on each individual’s unique symptoms in order to develop a plan that addresses social anxiety related to the coronavirus and COVID-19. Acknowledging the unique and ever-changing state of the world can reinforce the need to develop new, informed coping strategies alongside professionals who understand the effects that COVID-19 has had on anxiety, isolation, and sociocultural norms.

Social anxiety is a prevalent issue for many, even before the COVID-19 pandemic complicated those suffering from the condition. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we understand that this pandemic has had an incredible impact on many aspects of each person’s life, including social anxiety, addiction, and more. If you or a loved one are struggling with social anxiety, or are dealing with its effects for the first time as a result of the coronavirus, we are ready to help create a personalized plan for you today. Our staff is prepared to help you create a home-like and recovery-focused atmosphere, surrounded by like-minded peers and backed by a plethora of personalized and proven therapeutic strategies that are pertinent to your needs and goals in recovery. For more information on how we can help or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (866) 338-6925.

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