If there was one thing that everyone is looking forward to, it would be the moment where we could finally get back to our old normal; similar to the pre-pandemic days! However, let’s face it! This is not going to happen anytime soon, albeit with the widespread vaccination program — contributed by the paranoia and anxiety that the Covid-19 virus has created in the past year.
Instead, we’ll be talking about the new normal, where we’ll be free to go out under strict SOPs, of course. Therefore, social distancing and face masks are here to stay for quite some time. For some of us, going outside and meeting friends might be a nightmare, indeed. The pandemic has limited our world to phone calls and video calls and this has severely impacted our abilities to socialise. The tiniest thought of talking to people freely might trigger a small bit of uneasiness too.
This condition is classified as social anxiety. Now, with social anxiety, it’s very likely that you might get sweaty, feel breathless and get dizzy sometimes. Before you start filling up your social calendar when the lockdown gets eased, here are a few tips on coping up with social anxiety!
It might seem tempting to cram all your get-togethers and catch up sessions with friends every free time you get, however, this is a huge red flag. Give yourself some time to ease back into the constant flow of meeting up with people. Perhaps, you could start off by hanging out with the people closest to you. This is considered to be your safe space where you could be yourself. Therefore, this would be the place where you’d have the least social anxiety because you’re in your natural state.
You don’t have to dress to the nines or put on a facade to please others. Limit the duration of the meet-up, to either 2 hours or 3 hours. This would be essential in preventing you from being exhausted mentally. When you’re completely comfortable with having tiny chit chat sessions as such, now, you could confidently talk to others for a longer period of time. It’s also important to spend some time with yourself.
Visualise Situations In Your Head
This is essential to get yourself prepared for the meetup or social event. Many of us end up having social anxiety because we’re just unsure about the unexpected. We’re too concerned about the events that are going to unfold in the future that we forget to just live in the present and enjoy the moment. Role-play the worries and concerns with someone you trust, on paper or in your head. It would be helpful to mentally plan the meet-up and how you’d like it to go. It might give you the ease of mind if you plan out your greetings.
During pre-Covid days, you could just hug someone as a greeting. But, with the possibilities of strict guidelines imposed once the lockdown is lifted, we might have to find other creative ways to greet others. You could also try challenging internal negative thought patterns with a reversal thought. If you were to be in a social setting with new people, instead of assuming that they might not like you, challenge this perspective by telling yourself that they’ll possibly have some stories of their own to share too from their lockdown days.
It’s Okay To Feel Scared
Usually, so-called negative emotions such as anger, sadness and fear are shunned by society. However, these are normal things to feel. Focus on your feelings and tell yourself that it’s completely okay to feel scared and uncertain about things. It would be great if you could stop focusing on other people’s emotions and their readiness to socialise after facing a long time in isolation. It’s best to socialise according to your capability and only start coming out of your comfort zone when you’re ready to. This would prevent you from being exhausted. With the paranoia of the virus, the need to feel safe is supposed to be your utmost priority although you’ve been fully vaccinated. Trust your instincts, and take some time off to feel scared. After a tumultuous year, your emotions are completely valid.
Practice Self Care
The need to socialise seems to be amplified, now that the whole world is going through the vaccination process. Therefore, it’s easy to get lost and find yourself in a pothole of stress due to the constant hangouts and meetups with friends and family. There might come a time where you would start appreciating solitary and being alone — one of the most precious lessons the pandemic taught us. Therefore, it is extremely important to practice self-care. Take some time off your devices and hectic social calendar, to prioritise your physical health, meditate, journal, read books, listen to podcasts and take deep breaths. Keeping your mental health in check is extremely crucial to get your mind and body prepared for the unknown, and in this case, socialising!
Get Mental Health Help
Therapy is extremely essential for people from all walks of life. Having someone to talk to about your stressful life and the problems that arise, without them judging you would seem like the light at the end of the tunnel for many of us. Going for therapy doesn’t mean that you have mental health issues. It’s also useful for those that don’t have any. This would ensure that your mental health and sanity is in check at all times. Two sessions per month could do wonders especially if you’re bogged down with anxiety-induced thoughts.
Here are some affordable psychological services in Malaysia:
In a nutshell, socialising might be allowed but it’s not necessary if you’re not ready for it mentally. If you need some time alone, please do so! Your mental health is supposed to be your priority. You might feel left out, seeing everyone else going out and having fun, but your feelings of anxiety are extremely valid too.