Having social anxiety after lockdown? Everyone might experience it. Being locked down in your home and isolated away from your friends and loved ones might impact you more than you ever think. However, there are some things you can do to decrease the effect of anxiety and get you back on track. It is crucial to first understand the disorder and why it could be happening to you.
Social anxiety affected approximately 13.7% of Irish adults at any one point in time. This is approximately one in eight adults. Even with a large rate such as this, people are not being able to identify the disorder usually. As a result, they feel something is wrong with them, however, they do not know what it is. This means that one in eight adults are not able to reach their potential and continue suffering for something they can overcome with help. Let’s take a close look at what social anxiety is.
Being the third largest mental health care problem in the world today, social anxiety is simply identified as being scared of social situations involving interaction with other people. These kinds of interactions can range from meeting new people to doing everyday things such as eating in front of people or being in a job interview.
The person with social anxiety feels they will be judged, humiliated, or rejected and they feel the disorder is too strong for them to control it. Social anxiety might start in shy teens, but statistics indicate that it is also frequent in adults and young teens. Furthermore, it is more common in women.
- Blush, sweat, trembling, feel a rapid heart rate, or feel their “mind going blank”
- Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach
- Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice
- Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could
- Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward
- Be very afraid that other people will judge them
- Stay away from places where there are other people.
The Reasons for Social Anxiety
What causes the disorder is not fully comprehended since it is thought to be a combination of the effect of environment and genes together. The condition is common in families, but it has not been found an answer to why some members have it and some do not. Some scientists note it is associated with parts of our brain and its chemicals such as serotonin, a hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.
What Can Be Done to Decrease The Effect of Social Anxiety?
1- Take small steps
It is imperative to make small changes instead of big ones. No one is expecting you to act like everything is normal. We have a new normal. As a first step, try to meet with your close inner circle. This can be your family, your best friend, or whoever you choose. Just do not forget to go to a less crowded place since it can be a trigger. Likewise, keeping a social distance is still a must! If you feel comfortable in this setting, you might try advancing to an environment that makes you a little uncomfortable, until you get used to it. Eventually, you can expand your circle.
2- Visualize Situations In Your Head
Before going to your next meeting think about it. Where will it be, who will be there, what will it be about, and what you might say? These are questions you can answer and easily visualize. If it is a place you have not been, find pictures online! The key is to familiarize yourself with the situation and mentally plan it. This way you will feel in control in handling the situation.
3- Hold Back The Negative Thoughts
I am aware it is harder than it sounds, but you can examine your negative thoughts and turn them into realistic thinking. We are generally self-centred, so we think that everyone is going to talk about our stuttering or red face. In reality, everyone is focused on themselves. In addition, do not forget that they were in the lockdown as well. You can use cognitive behavioural therapy as a helper if you think you cannot get a grasp of your negative thoughts.
4- Do Not Be Afraid To Go Back Home Early or Talk About It
Your health should come first at all costs for you. If you are feeling overwhelmed and it has not passed, tell this to the person you are with and go home. You can talk to them about what you are feeling as well. Do not be afraid to open up.
5- Use Breathing Techniques or Meditate
There are several breathing techniques you can use to calm down yourself or meditations for gathering your thoughts. There are also visual videos to help with posture, and you can copy in real situations.
6- Get Back Into Your Routine
Try getting up early and do not go to bed late. In the late hours, our body produces melatonin, which is a chemical that controls your sleep cycle. The deficiency of melatonin may result in insomnia, tiredness, depression, and anxiety. Moreover, try to do physical activities. Go for a walk in the neighbourhood, do some gardening or yoga. Numerous studies have noted that physical activity improves one’s self-esteem and suppresses anxiety symptoms. Establish an easy routine for your day, this stability might give you a sense of control.
7- Use a Journal
Journaling may help you identify where your stress stems from and consequently allow you to recognize your triggers. It provides a way to open your feelings and turn negative ones into positives. Write what is on your mind or what you will do tomorrow. There are various journaling techniques available online.
Studies show that complex carbohydrates are metabolized more slowly, which results in having a calmer feeling after eating them. A diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits is a better option than eating simple carbohydrates. Likewise, do not skip meals. It may create a low blood sugar level, which can create a jittery feeling.
You can increase your serotonin levels by eating foods such as salmon, turkey, nuts and seeds, cheese, and eggs.
Anxiety is thought to be correlated with a lowered total antioxidant state. Antioxidants such as apples, plums, blackberries, artichokes, and spinach can also help you with your anxiety as well.
9- Receive Help
Receiving help is always the best option if you are in a continuous state of anxiety. Professional treatments can create a better impact. There are also various support groups available online in Ireland.