Written by the Renew & Revitalize Life Coaching Team
Social anxiety is a mental health issue that many Americans deal with every day. Still, the extra stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic increased the anxieties that we all feel. Even people who never felt social anxiety before are suffering from it now. The most common mental illness in the country is an anxiety disorder, which the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says affects 40 million adults in the U.S. The good news is there are ways to address social anxiety in a healthy way both during the pandemic and in the future.
How Has COVID-19 Increased Social Anxiety?
The changes that have occurred around the world in the past four months have been drastic. Self-quarantining, stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and sheltering in place have made people feel more isolated and alone than ever. Jana Abelovska, a medical advisor with Click Pharmacy, said, “The change from having a highly social work and personal life to nothing at all can be really detrimental to a person’s mental health, and may cause many people who are normally extroverted to feel like they are becoming introverted and not wanting to mix with others,” in an interview with Healthline. New sources of stress that people are feeling may include:
- Isolation and loneliness
- Financial/job worries
- Access to toiletries, food, and medical supplies
- Worries about personal safety and health
Social anxiety is marked by a fear of being rejected, criticized, or judged by others, and the dread that one feels when filled with this worry. With all of the tensions being displayed on the news and social media regarding these new stressors, many people are feeling this type of anxiety.
How to Deal With Social Anxiety
To build resistance to the fear of being judged by others, one must follow a few strategies to deal with the mistakes they make during these difficult times. Here are a few tips to combat this fear.
- When feelings of embarrassment or shame creep up on you, stay open to these emotions, even though they are uncomfortable. They will dissipate with time. These negative emotions don’t mean that you have done something wrong, and you must accept that.
- Be willing to accept criticism, as it will help you accept that you can’t please everyone and will help to build your confidence. Do not seek reassurance that you are always doing the right thing, as this will lead to a false feeling that you can avoid criticism.
- When you go out in public, do your research on best practices first, and proceed with confidence that you are taking the precautions that you feel are best. Follow the rules that make the most sense to you, even if others disagree.
Whether you have dealt with social anxiety for your entire life or it is something you are just now experiencing due to the pandemic, you can face your emotions and deal with them appropriately. Social anxiety doesn’t need to be a crippling mental health disorder; you just need to be equipped with the best ways to deal with it.