Social anxiety is THE most diagnosed form of anxiety. Before the pandemic, this was probably one of the more common issues I treated in therapy. However, post-Corona social anxiety is especially cruel. It causes your social anxiety to feed on itself, because avoidance of what you fear creates more anxiety. Guess what we are not supposed to be doing right now? Socializing! Unfortunately corona gives those with social anxiety a new (very real) reason to avoid social contact and thus, the anxiety grows. Here are some common ways that you might be struggling with Corona-Social-Anxiety and what to do about it.
- You might be afraid to go on dates. Most people have a level of normal anxiety about dating, but due to our current pandemic situation, this anxiety is amplified. You are forced to start online dating profiles when you would rather meet potential partners in person. Not only that, but it can be challenging to find something to talk about in the initial stages of dating when you don’t have much going on in your life. You and potential partners must decide very quickly if you see the relationship being serious in order to determine if risking exposure to the virus via meeting up in person is worth it. What to do: while difficult experiences such as being ghosted are now probably more common, you also are less likely to waste time on someone who wasn’t ready for a commitment. You are able to sift through the “frogs” much faster in order to find your prince. The risk of contracting STDs is also much lower, as the trend is that people are holding off longer on having the initial in-person meeting in favor of getting to know one another online. When the physical aspect of the relationship comes into play, you’re more likely to have already built a great deal of trust with your partner than you would if you had just met at a bar and had a hookup.
- It might be more nerve wrecking to find a new career. Forget pre-interview jitters. Most people with social anxiety struggle with fears of finding the “right thing” to say. This anxiety is amplified if you are trying to stand out among other candidates vying for the same position due to much of the country experiencing lay-offs due to the pandemic. Many are being furloughed. Many people are stuck sitting at home with a bunch of time on their hands. While financial concerns are very real, there is help if you seek it out. What to do: Use this time. Take time to reflect on yourself: are you meeting your full potential? Is there something you have always wanted to do, but have put it off because of a lack of time? Take the RIASEC test (free version online) to determine if you are in a career field that suits you. Never before have you been given the freedom to reflect and take stock of your life. Think of this time as a training ground for the next stage of your life: the BETTER stage. You may never get this opportunity again. Use it.
- You might find your social skills are a little rusty. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Staying in isolation can wreak havoc on even the social skills of an extrovert. You may find that you are at a loss for words during your online meeting. You may stammer more when talking to someone on the phone. This point will especially apply if you have had to go through this pandemic alone. You may be tempted to avoid socially distanced meetups with friends. It might become easier to just not reach out, but this just feeds social anxiety. What to do: depending on your social needs, make sure to have at least weekly social contact, whether that be on the phone, through a zoom chat, or a safe and socially distanced meetup with friends. Keep your social skills fresh. If hanging out in person for a long period of time feels like too much, start smaller and build. Remember: avoidance of what you fear breeds more fear.