Do you find yourself not wanting in interact with others since the onset of the pandemic? Did your social anxiety get worse during the pandemic? As strange as it may seem, some people did in fact experience an increase in their level of social anxiety during a time where we were actually alone and isolated from others. How can one develop or increase social anxiety by being isolated when the term actually means that you would rather be alone? There is a simple answer to this paradox. In order to overcome social anxiety, it is recommended that the individual spend more time interacting with others and becoming socially at ease. During the pandemic when we had to isolate ourselves, it is possible that one’s social anxiety could worsen because they are not around other people.
Social phobia or social anxiety develops as the brain alerts the individual to perceive others as danger. So with the pandemic and the threat of being exposed to the virus, people suffering from social phobia or social anxiety now have a valid reason to avoid others. This could increase the brain’s perception of danger and raise the levels of anxiety. There are a few ways to combat the increased levels of social anxiety during these times.
Stay in contact with family and friends using social media and video calls. To maximize the benefits of technology and really tap in to the experience of interacting, be sure to use the video feature and not just a text or voice call.
Visit places where you can talk with others at a safe and social distance, such as the park or walking through your neighborhood and having a brief (and socially distant) conversation with a neighbor.
If you have been vaccinated and have family or friends who have been vaccinated, try meeting for an outing. It may be difficult to add others to your group during these times, but you may be able to change the activities that you and your group participate in so that the social anxiety may begin to diminish.
Accept the way you feel and realize that you have the power to take appropriate action and overcome your fears. Change your mindset and instead of saying that you want to overcome social anxiety, set your goals on enjoying life, enjoying social interaction with others, and meeting new people.
Angela M. Powell, Ph.D., LPC-S, CSC
Dr. Angela M. Powell is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Progressive Counseling & Consulting, LLC., specializing in youth trauma, anxiety, and depression.