5 Tips for Post-Pandemic Social Anxiety
Updated: Jul 31
Feeling a little squeemish about in-person social events now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted? Notice that communication skills feel shaky in your initial attempts at face-to-face conversations?
Social awkwardness has become a common experience for many as they emerge from their homes and resume community participation. But take heart, most of us find that with a little old-fashioned "exposure therapy" (meaning, just do it), there is a quick return to former levels of social comfort.
Here are a few tried-and-true social skills tips for anyone feeling that post-pandemic social anxiety:
Think of three safe conversation topics before your event. With a few conversational aces up your sleeve, you can walk into any situation and feel more prepared to strike up a conversation with others, who are probably feeling some social anxiety and hesitance too!
Ask people safe questions about themselves. Not only is curiosity a great way to cultivate friendship and intimacy with people, it also helps to calm the nerves of the person being asked! One topic we usually find easy to discuss is ourselves. Put someone at ease by communicating your gentle and sincere curiosity about the fascinating human being they are.
Be mindful of your body language. Keep your shoulders squarely facing the person you are talking to and you'll demonstrate attentiveness. Relax your facial muscles and uncross your arms to communicate ease and openness.
Use a person's name. We aren't all egomaniacs, but the truth is almost all brains really like to hear our own name and respond with positive feelings when someone remembers us, and uses our name in conversation! Pay attention to people's names, remember them, use them, and their brain will thank you for it with fondness!
NO PHUBBING - eyes darting to a screen communicate disinterest and register in most people's brains as a social rejection (scientific fact!); so set your phone to do not disturb and give your full attention to this very important social connection right in front of you!
Are you worried you might be experiencing something more extreme than common, transient post-pandemic social anxiety? If your social anxiety symptoms are causing you enough distress to miss important events or struggle to leave the house, please give me a call! For some, the pandemic has triggered a more acute case of social anxiety or agoraphobia, and I have specialized training and successful experience in treating both conditions.