Navigating the New Normal: The Rise of Social Anxiety Post-COVID

life, psychology
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Navigating the New Normal: The Rise of Social Anxiety in Post-COVID America

Navigating the New Normal: The Rise of Social Anxiety Post-COVID

life, psychology
life, psychology
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hey there, fellow human being. Can we talk about something that’s been hanging heavy in the air lately? Social anxiety. Yep, you know it. It’s that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach when you think about stepping out into the world, even after COVID-19 has started to fade into the rearview mirror. It’s like the pandemic’s aftershock, leaving us a bit shaken and uncertain about getting back into the swing of things.

Let’s face it, pre-COVID, social anxiety was already a thing. But now, oh boy, it’s like it’s gone through a growth spurt. The pandemic, with all its lockdowns, social distancing, and mask mandates, seems to have taken a toll on our collective social skills.

Think about it: for what felt like forever, we were cooped up inside, mastering the art of social distancing and Zoom calls. Human interaction became this rare gem we only stumbled upon during masked grocery runs or virtual happy hours. And now, as the world slowly reopens, it’s like we’re emerging from hibernation, blinking in the sunlight and wondering if we still remember how to talk to people without awkwardly clearing our throats. The pandemic shook up our lives like a snow globe, and now that things are settling, it’s normal to feel a bit shaky about stepping back into the social scene.

Navigating the New Normal: The Rise of Social Anxiety in Post-COVID America
The fear of catching a potentially deadly virus is still very real for many of us, even with vaccines doing their superhero thing. So, what happens when you add that fear to the already existing cocktail of social anxiety? You get a whole lot of sweaty palms and racing hearts. Social anxiety is about this underlying fear of judgment, of not being “enough,” of saying the wrong thing and feeling like you’re the odd one out. Social anxiety and even agoraphobia are on the rise and fairly prevalent in today’s Post-COVID world.

Social anxiety is a persistent fear of social situations, especially those involving unfamiliar people. Individuals with social anxiety worry excessively about being judged, criticized, or rejected by others.

And let’s be real, COVID-19 didn’t exactly do wonders for our self-esteem. The constant barrage of bad news, the isolation, the endless scrolling through social media comparing our lives to everyone else’s highlight reels—it’s enough to make anyone feel like they’re not measuring up.

But hey, it’s important to remember that feeling anxious in social situations right now is totally normal. We’re all trying to find our footing in this brave new world, figuring out how to interact with each other without the constant threat of an invisible enemy looming over us.

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”

Albert Camus

So, what can we do about it? Well, first off, cut yourself some slack. Seriously. Beating yourself up for feeling anxious won’t do anyone any good. Acknowledge your feelings and give yourself a mental high five for even showing up. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that it’s okay to not have all the answers, and give yourself permission to take things one step at a time.

Secondly, take baby steps. You don’t have to dive headfirst into a crowded bar or a bustling concert venue right away. Start small. Meet up with a friend for a coffee date or take a leisurely stroll in the park. Ease yourself back into social situations at your own pace. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a therapist, having someone to talk to about what you’re going through can make all the difference. Sometimes just knowing that you’re not alone in feeling this way can be incredibly comforting. The more you practice putting yourself out there, the easier it’ll become.

And hey, if you need a little extra support, that’s okay too. Therapy, support groups, meditation—there are plenty of resources out there to help you manage your anxiety. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.

Above all, remember that you’re not alone in this. We’re all feeling a little wobbly as we navigate this new normal together. So, let’s cut each other some slack, lend a helping hand when needed, and maybe even share a laugh or two along the way. After all, isn’t that what being human is all about? Here’s to navigating this brave new world together, one awkward interaction at a time. And hey, if all else fails, there’s always puppies and pizza to fall back on.

Think you might have social anxiety? Take the “Social Anxiety or Shyness?” Quiz here.

anxiety, anxiety disorder, covid-19, generalized anxiety disorder, pandemic,

Photo credit: Unsplash

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