Some of us were happy and confident that we would cope well with being in lockdown with our immediate families or on our own, especially if we have always relished our alone time or worried in social situations: However, the lack of any type of human interaction has, in some cases, made the stress of reconnecting worse.

The problem of social anxiety is now being noticed by more and more people who generally describe themselves as extroverted and socially confident.

It is not just the thought of catching COVID that is causing the worries of returning to society, many people are worrying about adapting to the new norms of human interactions. Here is an excerpt from an email we had recently from a patient asking for help with products for anxiety and stress.   

“recently I bumped into a friend in the supermarket, the interaction between us felt tense and awkward, not because we had nothing to say to each other but because I was conscious of people watching us having a chat, I was constantly thinking things like, am I stood far enough away for this to be acceptable? how long have we been stood here for? Are people judging me? And then when we finally said goodbye it just felt wrong, where I would usually give a hug to say goodbye, the solemn take care as I backed away just felt weird and I found myself going over it in my head as I carried on shopping and making myself feel anxious that I had offended her”.

These feelings of worry and anxiety can have many triggers, from simply participating in casual conversations to public speaking upon returning to work.

Social media feeds being flooded with memes and posts about plans for meeting up from 29th March and well-overdue nights out from 21st June can make the feelings of social anxiety worse for many people. Although these feelings are common and perfectly normal, dealing with them now in preparation for the future lockdown easing will help you feel better equipped to face society again.

Here are our tips on how to cope with social situations and human interaction.

  • Preparing yourself and others for the situation ahead can help you feel much more at ease.

If you are concerned about meeting a friend or friends and appearing standoffish for example, a little pre-meeting message to say “I cannot wait to see you and I know everyone is interpreting social distancing a little differently, but I will be being extra careful to keep you and myself safe ?” This simple message will not only put yourself at ease but may well reflect how other people are also feeling and help set the standard for the whole meeting.

Start slowly.

Start with small meetings with family members or someone you feel extremely comfortable with. Small steps to ease yourself back into socialising this way can help ease the stress of coping with interacting with others.

Do not be afraid to ask for help.

There are many organisations available to offer support and help with anxiety and stress and talking about the problem and getting advice can help you cope with the feelings you are having. Whether you talk to your GP or find a local online support group, reaching out is the first step to getting help.

Set yourself boundaries and do not be afraid to say no!

If you are concerned about the safety aspect of meeting up with someone face to face (or mask to mask) then make a list of things you feel comfortable with at first, like keeping the meetings brief until you feel more comfortable, start with meeting one person for a short walk before you attempt meeting in a group and do not be afraid to say no if you do not feel ready yet.

Returning to work

After a long period of working from home, the prospect of returning to an office or work environment can be daunting. Remember that your colleagues and managers may well be feeling the same way, so reach out and talk about how you are feeling with your line managers and workmates. Try to prepare yourself to get back into a routine by setting your alarm and getting back into the pattern of getting a good nights sleep, getting up and dressed earlier, and doing your usual morning routine such as making a cup of tea, having breakfast, showered, and dressed for the working day. It may also be beneficial to start planning by making to-do lists and deciding on how you will structure your days when you return. Finally, speaking to your employer about their plans to keep everyone safe and the support available for anyone who is struggling can help you feel more comfortable about the help available for you.

Consider supplements and products that can help with coping and anxiety.

There are many products and supplements available that can ease the feelings of stress and anxiety such as CBD oils, do not be afraid of doing a little research into products that can help you get back into a sleep pattern, help with anxiety and help calm your nerves.

Remember, the feelings you are having are perfectly normal and plenty of help to overcome your fears and help you transition back into a life with social interaction is available. If you would like to talk to us about the treatments and products we have available that may help, please give us a call on 01626 777027 or see the list below of organisations that offer help and support.