Social Anxiety: You might think that the COVID-19 lockdowns were a happy time for people who like to be alone, and for the most part, that was true in the beginning. Therefore a while, folks were enjoying peace and quiet in exchange for scary, unpredictable times. But now, nearly half of all adults in the United States say that their mental health has suffered as a result of the corona quarantine.
In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation recently conducted a survey where they asked American citizens how they felt before, during, and after the lockdowns. According to their responses, most suffered through extreme stress and isolation the entire time. That, in turn, had a major impact on their ability to cope, socialize, and participate in normal society.
Meanwhile, 92% of U.S. respondents reported working from home or cancelling travel plans because of the coronavirus. Another 82% of people said they sheltered in place for months, not leaving the house for anything non-essential. So, despite their mental health condition before it all started, many people now deal with social anxiety disorder because of the unexpected pause.
What is social anxiety disorder?
Social anxiety disorder is a chronic condition that affects a person’s ability to feel, think, or behave rationally in social situations. For sufferers, even casual interactions are cause for extreme stress. Many times, someone with social anxiety will exhibit signs of self-consciousness, nervousness, or embarrassment while performing mundane tasks in public.
People who have developed this disorder almost always feel like they’re being judged by others. They may assume that they’re somehow offensive or become concerned about being humiliated. And with over 40 million people already diagnosed with an anxiety disorder each year, this sudden influx of cases doesn’t help. Thus, it’s important to find ways to cope.
NOTE: Social anxiety disorder is treatable by a mental health professional. So, find out if you have it by taking a Mind Diagnostics test and then seek counseling if you exhibit the signs.
5 ways to overcome social anxiety disorder
Whether you suffer through anxiety in social situations or deal with generalized nervousness because of the pandemic, learning how to overcome this disorder is crucial to your survival in the coming years. So, here are five easy ways to cope:
Focus on your present strengths.
It’s normal for someone with social anxiety to start worrying about things long before they have to. And overthinking situations is quite common as well. Instead, approach everything with your strengths in mind. Think about what you “can” do as opposed to what you “can’t” and try to concentrate on the present, not the past or future.
Clean out your negative filter.
Social anxiety can cause you to say some pretty negative things to yourself and/or about certain situations. That sort of historical recall may make your issues worse, so try to catch discouraging self-talk when it’s happening and flip the script on yourself to gain more confidence.
Move the spotlight.
Stop giving all of your attention to the bad feelings you’re having. Overanalyzing your appearance, performance, or emotions will only make you feel more self-conscious and anxious. So, try to think about something else by shifting your focus onto encouraging or interesting things.
Stop fearing failure.
Understand that nobody and nothing is perfect, and that means you’re going to make mistakes. Meanwhile, most people are more forgiving than you realize. Thus, you can’t continue to fear human error because you’ll become paralyzed by the realities of it sooner or later.
Work on yourself.
Learn to love your quirks then create opportunities to develop better interpersonal skills. Use your alone time to confront mental health issues and emotional barriers. If necessary, book an appointment with a licensed therapist or sign up for group therapy sessions in your neighborhood.
Understand that social anxiety disorder can present for several reasons, not just because of COVID-19 lockdowns. Moreover, it can lead to other issues like substance abuse disorder, clinical depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) if it’s left untreated. So, don’t feel ashamed if the coronavirus quarantine has negatively impacted your life. Simply learn how to cope and start to heal for real.
There were at least 200,000 new social anxiety cases each year before the COVID lockdowns. Those numbers have risen significantly over the last year because of isolation and unfamiliar societal norms. But there’s a way to get back on solid ground, and it begins with your willingness to change perspectives and seek help when it’s needed.