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How do I deal with continued pandemic-induced social anxiety?

As Omicron continues to sweep the country, it would be no wonder if you felt that persistent, scary internal freak-out.


You’re not alone.


It seems as though a lot of us are still feeling unsure about what to do, what to think, where to go and how to behave, two years after the first variant. We probably had no idea, when we got into this for the first time in 2020, that two years later we’d still be trying to navigate changing new restrictions and strange new norms.


For those who live with social anxiety, the pandemic has certainly introduced us to a whole new level of it. But there are things we can do to minimize the effects of that anxiety. Here’s how.


Minimize social interactions


There was a point in time it seemed it was frowned upon that we see anybody – businesses were closed, inter-household interaction was restricted, and even hugs felt illegal. No one is under such tight restrictions now, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to keep our circles tight and social interactions minimal. Due to the fact that the more people you see, the greater the risk of possibly contracting or spreading the virus, it’s best to stay in intimate groups.


Communicate


If you’re socially anxious, you may not typically jump at the chance to talk openly or ask a thousand questions for fear of being judged. But it’s so important that you are open now, especially if you’re particularly affected by the pandemic, so that people know that you’re being careful and just trying to stay informed. It’s okay to ask questions like “Will there be masks at the event?” or “Will everyone be tested before attending?” or “Is it okay if we just spend time one-on-one instead of in a big group?”


Have a plan


It’s always a great idea to have and rehearse your plan before going anywhere, so you feel ready for what’s to come. For example, if you’re going to a venue, you can call ahead of time and ask what their social distancing protocol is, and if you’re comfortable with it, great! If not, that’s okay too. You might be indecisive, and that’s also okay. Pressuring yourself to follow through with a plan just because you have one may not be the kindest thing you can do for yourself, so remind yourself that you can always change your mind. Make breaking your plan part of your fallback plan.


Respect your boundaries


This is a very sensitive time for a lot of people. You know how important boundaries are for you, and that’s so important to respect, especially now. You also know what you’re comfortable doing and what you’re not, and those around you must have compassion and empathy for your choices – just as you must for theirs.

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