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Dealing with Post-Lockdown Social Anxiety

08. May 2021 by Valerie Walker

Red haired young woman looking thoughtfully out of the window

As we all prepare to emerge from our homes and venture back out into the post-lockdown world, not everyone’s response to this will be the same. For some the reopening of shops, cafes, gyms and ultimately restaurants and bars will be met with eager anticipation and joy at being able to meet and mingle with family and friends in public places once again. However, for some it will bring with it a huge amount of fear and anxiety, perhaps even greater than the pandemic itself created. Social anxiety was an increasing problem even before we locked ourselves away for an entire year and it is unlikely to have disappeared in that time, sadly the opposite. For those of you who suffered from this disorder before the pandemic, you might find that it has been heighted, largely due to your inability to socialise with other people and therefore challenge your fears on a regular basis. Also, for some of you, it may be a phenomenon you had not previously experienced, but when pushed back into more frequent face to face social interaction, will do so for the first time.

Who can be affected by Social Anxiety?
It is a fact of life that most of us do occasionally worry about attending social situations for a variety of reasons. A first date, meeting new people, a work event with the ‘big’ bosses or even meeting the future in-laws are but a few situations where you may, understandably, feel slightly nervous before the event. In fact, I fully expect most of us will feel a twinge of anxiety at even the simplest of social outings in the early days of easing back into a more interactive existence. However, as anyone who has suffered from Social Anxiety will tell you, the feelings they have extend far beyond feeling shy or a little bit nervous in a group or even one to one social situation. Rather, it is an overwhelming, crippling condition in which social interaction, even a catch-up coffee with a friend, fills them with anxiety and panic. For many, this intense fear does not dissipate at any point during the social interaction. In fact, if you have experienced it, you will know that it can extend way beyond the actual event itself and affect your everyday life, your self-confidence, your relationships and even your work or school life.

What happens during a Social Anxiety attack?
The symptoms you experience due to social anxiety can range from acute physical symptoms such as a racing pulse, palpitations, shaking, blushing, dry mouth, nausea, sweating to psychological signs such as the mind going “blank.”

What can you do to help yourself?
The good news is, that whether you are suffering from a short-term fear of socialising, arising from the prolonged lockdown of the last year, or you recognise that you have a pre-existing social phobia, help is available. Both hypnotherapy and NLP have proven to be successful in reducing the impact of social fears and anxieties. Working with a qualified therapist and using helpful tools and methodologies yourself at home, they allow you to begin to desensitise your negative reaction to social occasions and develop more positive behaviours or reactions. Ones that will allow you to get on with and freely enjoy your post-lockdown life...and who doesn't want to do that?