The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a mental toll on many people, and some of them may have developed social anxiety as a result of the pandemic. While social distancing constraints and not having to engage with people in person may have soothed some with social anxiety, others have been tormented with increased anxiety around social interactions and have grown isolated while navigating through the pandemic.
This blog throws light on the impact of social anxiety and how the pandemic has been both a benefit and a curse for individuals who suffer from it.
Social Anxiety in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic
It can be stressful to be living in the midst of a health epidemic and attempting to learn about an unfamiliar disease while dealing with constantly changing regulations and restrictions. It is practically arduous to engage with others without experiencing some type of anxiousness.
Moreover, living as an expat in a country not your own, having a cultural and language barrier just adds to the anxiety.
Many people have experienced social anxiety for the first time as a result of the pandemic. For some who were previously at ease in their daily lives before the pandemic, fear and anxiety have become a part of life.
Individuals who previously relied on loved ones to help them cope with social anxiety now face seclusion and separation in the goal of staying safe and stopping the spread of the illness.
Communicating via the Internet—a Blessing
On the one hand, one can assume that the current tranquil social life, reduced social pressures, not having to attend a school or the workspace and the sports and hobby clubs may benefit these teens and adults. It is noted how not having to deal with life’s overstimulation is a relief for certain people.
According to recent research, socially anxious persons perceive the online communication sphere as a safe setting in which they may express themselves and communicate with others without fear of rapid rejection.
Read more about: Coping with Loneliness in Tough Time
Communication via the Internet—a Curse
On the other hand, it is possible that they would face the same social demands as they would in the actual world, but that the pressures will be stronger in the online world due to the ambiguity of such communication.
According to recent studies, the lack of nonverbal indicators in online communication via common social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, and Snapchat) can lead to more ambiguity, uncertainty, and self-consciousness than in offline circumstances.
In short, remaining social on the Internet is an equally demanding and difficult endeavor that socially anxious individuals are prone to avoid.
Coping with Pandemic-Driven Social Anxiety
Being realistic is the first step in overcoming social anxiety during the pandemic.
Keep in mind that we’re all going through major life transitions at the same time. Nobody knows how to do everything perfectly, and we all make mistakes.
Being gentle to yourself is the next stage in minimizing pandemic-driven social anxiety. Give yourself a break and realize that we’re all trying to adapt to the new social contact rules. If you make an error, remind yourself that when you are under stress and trying to cope with a situation as life-changing as a pandemic, mistakes are nearly unavoidable.
Allow yourself to forgive yourself without trying to hide or flee. Negative feelings will fade more rapidly if you do so.
Third, keep in mind that we are all socially awkward to some degree these days. We’ve let our social “muscles” degrade while we’ve been in hibernation mode.
Behavioral difficulties are widespread among the socially isolated. One may become more impulsive, less tolerant, and socially awkward upon returning to the reopened society.
Trying to Make Sense of a New-Mixed Social World
There could be a big rebound effect for socially anxious individuals as social distancing measures are gradually relaxed and people return to their normal social routines.
Even if this pandemic temporarily reduces anxiety, anxiety around re-socializing face-to-face could reach new heights if one’s social skills have rusted from lack of practice.
Readjusting to the New Normal
We all have to readjust as the world continues to reopen. Our social abilities aren’t as fluid in virtual encounters as they are in real-world ones.
Those who anticipate the world, their employment, and their relationships to remain as they were before the pandemic are likely to suffer the most.
There has been a discussion about how we will cope with the “new normal”. It’s unclear exactly what this signifies. Is it going to be a permanent mix of offline and online social media?
What does this bring to socially anxious human beings: will it allow them time to gradually reintegrate into the real-world social sphere while also encouraging such connections through online communication?
Consulting with Professional Mental Health Care Experts in The Netherlands
Given the present surge in digital and online therapy interventions for social anxiety and other mental health disorders, this could be an opportunity to dig deeper inside your mental health. Telemedicine is surging worldwide.
Consulting with professional therapeutic centers such as IMC can be helpful in the long run. IMC is the leading mental health care center in the Netherlands specializing in social anxiety and its various effects on one’s daily life.
Hence, what is evident is that teachers, employers, therapists, and policymakers should be aware of the challenges these persons confront and assist them in navigating the new (post) corona social society.Learn More