Easing out of lockdown for the socially anxious
If the limit of your social engagements this last year has been to wade through Zoom meetings, discuss the same dinner plans with your housemates, nag your children or disagree with the cat, you may feel out of practice now that large gatherings look set for a return. Perhaps you’ve quite enjoyed this period of isolation and reduced contact from friends and family, and dread the idea that you may be expected to socialise. Perhaps you have social anxiety. Either way, if all goes according to plan, this era of social distancing may be starting to close. For those feeling a little daunted, here’s how to ease yourself back in.
The team at oVRcome have developed a programme which uses exposure therapy through virtual reality experiences to support those with social anxiety. We have also developed a free Social Anxiety Test which delivers a personalised report to see where you are at. Why not take it today?
For those with social anxiety, lockdown has been both a blessing and a curse. In a strange sense, it may have felt as if they were being rewarded for doing what they naturally gravitate towards - keeping to themselves. But there are downsides to this, too. The prospect of having to socialise with others again, after the best part of a year spent isolating, is absolutely terrifying for those with social anxiety. It is this challenge which they are facing right now, and one which can certainly be overcome. Here are three top tips to make the transition back to “normality” easier.
1. Set your own pace
While some people will want to take every opportunity to get out, others feel hesitant or reluctant about socialising. Just as it took time for you to adapt to a new way of living during lockdown, it may take some time to adapt to life changing again – and that’s okay.
It can be helpful to remember that it’s up to you what your transition from lockdown looks like. Sometimes small adjustments can be easier to adapt to than large, sudden changes. You can add activities and habits back into your routine at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
2. Create some boundaries
Take some time to consider what you feel comfortable with, when it comes to social gatherings. Perhaps you don’t want to be somewhere busy, with a large group. Maybe you don’t like the idea of a long meeting and something shorter would work better for you.
Self awareness in this regard is really helpful in establishing a set of boundaries which can allow you to thrive in readjusting to a life with social engagements.
3. Recognise you success
When the time comes to plan something with friends or family, and you are thinking about how it might all go, recognise that you are already succeeding in managing your social anxiety. Then, once you’ve had a social meet up or two, reflect on how much courage and determination you’ve demonstrated to yourself in following through.
In summary, if you haven’t been in social situations a lot recently, it’s normal to feel a bit anxious about going out again. It’s not surprising if socialising feels strange or more difficult when you haven’t been doing it, so be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much. Try to ease back into social situations gradually and think about what you do and don’t want to do socially, set some boundaries or goals for yourself. Some things may be different in future, like whether people hug each other, or mask wearing, but what is certainly true for now, is that there are other people feeling as unsure as you are. And hey, if you don’t feel ready for all of this, then that’s okay too.
If you are interested to read more about social anxiety, in particular what virtual reality has to offer those with the condition, why not take a look at this article posted on our blog earlier in the year. It outlines how 21st century technology is being used to support individuals with mental health conditions, such as social anxiety.