Friday, 7 May 2021

Socialising after lockdown with social anxiety

The past year has been challenging for many of us. Not being able to travel freely, restricted in how we spend our free time, not spending time with the people we want to. One of the main things that has changed significantly for all of us, is our social life. 

Although this element can be challenging in many ways, there are many people who will not be looking forward to our social lives getting back on track.

Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorders in the UK, affecting as much as 12% of the population. 

Living with social anxiety can impact different areas of our lives, one of these being our social relationships. It can be especially challenging when we want to be able to hang out with our friends, but our anxiety gets in the way.

Here at First Psychology, we meet individuals every day who are struggling with this, but are determined to find a way to manage their anxiety and take part in the social activities they want to.

If this sounds like you, here are some helpful ways to start understanding and managing your own social anxiety, that you might want to try before your next social event.

Remember to go slow

The more pressure we put on ourselves, the harder it will be to feel relaxed in any social interaction. If you don’t feel ready to socialise, that’s ok. Instead, use the time to do things that you enjoy. Just because socialising in groups is now more of an option, does not mean there is any need to rush. It is your decision to make.

Write it down

Take some time to notice, and jot down the thoughts that are coming up for you when you imagine stepping into a social situation. Once you’ve done this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there any evidence that contradicts this thought? 
  • What are the costs and benefits of thinking in this way?
  • Is there another way of looking at this this situation?
Try to answer these as honestly as possible then notice how you feel.

Visualise and embody your social self

Sometimes it is the negative way in which we imagine ourselves in a social situation that can put us off, even if that image is unrealistic. A more helpful way to approach social anxiety, is to visualise ourselves in a positive way.

  1. Ask yourself- how do I want to appear in this social situation? There may be certain words that can describe this (e.g. confident, focused), or perhaps a drawing captures it more accurately (e.g. posture, facial expressions).
  2. Now that you have this positive image in your mind, think about what you can do to make it more of a reality. While you do this, remember to be kind to yourself, focusing on self-motivation and encouragement, rather than criticising or making unhelpful demands of yourself.

For more information about social anxiety and some techniques to help manage it, sign up to our webinar 'Understanding and Managing Social Anxiety' taking place on Friday 14 May 2021. 

Elspeth Quinn works as an Applied Psychology Practitioner at First Psychology Edinburgh. She will be presenting the webinar 'Understanding and Managing Social Anxiety'

No comments:

Post a Comment