As restrictions ease, anyone with social anxiety may be struggling with the idea of reconnecting again. Counsellor Sarah Barr has helpful coping strategies to try in the weeks ahead:

Social anxiety isn’t just being nervous or uncomfortable around other people, it can be a debilitating mental and physical struggle.

People who live with social anxiety have an intense and persistent fear of embarrassment, humiliation, or rejection from others. Leading them to avoid social situations.

It may be something you have lived with for years or perhaps lockdown has triggered it after never experiencing it before. You may be struggling with the prospect of reconnecting socially.

For anyone living with social anxiety, the lockdown/lockdowns may have come as welcomed break from daily social interactions. Unfortunately, they also enabled your social anxiety. 

Anyone who lives daily with social anxiety will know all too well the mental and physical strain it can take on them. They have a constant worry and fear that there are being judged and therefore can feel under pressure to always show their best self.

What are the signs of social anxiety?

  • Feeling anxious in social situations (physical symptoms include racing heart, sweating, nauseous, dizziness, shortness of breath).
  • Feeling pressured to do things ‘right’ in social situations.
  • Feeling self-conscious around other people.
  • Worrying that others will judge you.
  • Replaying how you acted in a social situation over and over again in your mind afterwards.
  • Trying to keep quiet or not to draw attention to yourself.
  • Not doing things you want to do because you feel anxious.

Coping strategies for Social Anxiety

  • Challenge your negative thought patterns, have you any evidence to say these are actually real and will happen?
  • Try to imagine positive outcomes for upcoming social events or situations.
  • Talk to a supportive friend or family member about your worries.
  • Do something that you enjoy to take your mind off the social event or situation.
  • Go out for a walk or do another form of exercise.
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes seeing them in black and white can help you to process.

If you are struggling at the moment, please reach out to a local counsellor or contact your doctor. There is help and support available.

Take care, Sarah.