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How to Deal with the Pressure of Socializing in a Post-Pandemic World When You Have Social Anxiety

The pandemic allowed us to hone our bread-making skills and develop a close relationship with

Netflix, but it also reinforced social anxiety for many of us.

With the holidays shortly approaching and the push for more vaccinations, there might be

looming pressure to reintegrate back into society. Many of us felt the sting of social isolation

from quarantine, but those who live with social anxiety felt a reprieve. People with social

anxiety were gifted with worldwide grace in the form of stay-at-home orders. Some of us may

be excited to reunite this holiday season with our loved ones and celebrate a new year making

up for lost time. Others who live with social anxiety may be dreading this social pressure to

reintegrate and socialize.

Quarantine-Induced and Reinforced Social Anxiety

Our homes became our sanctuaries from an unknown and deadly virus. We were

encouraged by public health officials to limit contact and make our homes, which doubled as

workplaces, more comfortable than ever before to ease the pain of quarantine.

Society became so adept at following these orders that it led to an experience known as

cave syndrome, in which people feel anxious to leave their homes.

Those who live with social anxiety are familiar with living a reclusive lifestyle long before

the pandemic. Seeing the world live in a similar manner brought relatability to a mental health

condition that was once thought of as non-existent. We began to see the benefits of drawing

inwards, having more time for ourselves, and less time for socializing. Social anxiety became

reinforced and protected by the many threats brought upon by the pandemic.

Post-Pandemic Pressures

Healthy and long-lasting relationships are fundamental to human life. We are wired for

connection and the pandemic highlighted this basic need. However, popular media and societal

influences inadvertently place high pressure on having a robust social network made up of

romantic partners, friends, and family, especially on individuals in their 20s.

A post-pandemic world amplifies this pressure to be social and make the 2020s the

roaring 20s. Those who deal with social anxiety already have a perception that people have

allowed people to shield from their social anxiety by offering a bullet proof excuse to avoid


Unfortunately, avoidance exacerbates anxiety and as the world slowly shifts from virtual

to real world, it is inevitable that we will be reconnecting with others again.

Fortunately, there are ways to honour the benefits and feeling of safety that we

mustered from hiding away in our homes, while bravely walking into a post-pandemic world.

How to Deal with the Pressure of Socializing in a Post-Pandemic World When You Have Social Anxiety:

1. Practice Self-Compassion and Set Your Own Expectations

The pandemic has been extremely rough on the world and it is okay to not have used this time

to create a list of accomplishments. Those who live with social anxiety struggle with a

perception of expectations from others. These expectations are actually self-made and can be

shifted anytime. So, while you may feel pressure to fill up your social calendar now that you

have the option, the choice and expectation is actually set by you.

2. Go at Your Own Pace

Others may be quick to rush to the next party in fear of more restrictions but set boundaries for

yourself and let others know your boundaries. Say yes to activities that you feel safe and

comfortable with and feel strength in being able to say no.

3. Self-Reflect

Use self-reflection time to consider your priorities and positive qualities rather than

perseverate on perceived expectations that others have of you.

Self-reflection could also help you identify your values. Perhaps, you value the connection that

you gain from an intimate gathering vs. a lively party.

4. Be Selective & Gradually Expose

Your social anxiety could be context or relationship specific. Having time to self-reflect could

help you discover any subtle toxic traits in your friendships, which could be the simple source of

your social anxiety.

Gradually expose yourself to people and situations that you feel more trusting and confident.

Keep your conversations within these situations light and easy. A polarizing and intense

conversation may be too much for you right at the start.

5. Accept Yourself

Not being in a romantic relationship or having a large network of friends may leave you with

the feeling that you are behind in life or socially inadequate. However, having perfectionistic

standards of yourself will only leave you feeling paralyzed and anxious. Aim for self-acceptance

of where you are right now and value the relationships that leave you with a feeling of safety

and acceptance, no matter how few they may be.

Most importantly, develop a loving and accepting relationship with yourself to ease the fears of

never being good enough for others.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change” – Carl Rogers

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