Share on PinterestIf you’re experiencing some discomfort when returning to social situations, you’re not alone. Many are feeling the same right now and experts say it’s perfectly normal. PER Images/Stocksy United
- Many people are feeling anxiety and distress as they reenter society after two years of taking safety precautions to stay safe from COVID-19.
- For some people, this may be the first time they’re experiencing symptoms of social anxiety.
- There are steps you can take to reduce anxiety and make social situations more enjoyable.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago, staying at home and physically distancing from others became necessary precautions to slow virus transmission and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
Now, as people are returning to the office, mask mandates are lifting, and we begin to reemerge into society, connecting physically with others is becoming more and more part of our daily lives again.
While some people may find this in-person socializing exuberant after being cooped up for so long, others may face anxiety and distress in these now new again social situations.
“Re-entry anxiety is normal for everyone,” said Hillary Ammon, PsyD, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Those that chose to socially distance themselves or were encouraged to complete school or work from home became comfortable with those shifts in their behaviors.”
“Now, as they reemerge and return to work and school or start to attend social gatherings, it is normal to experience some worry or discomfort for various reasons,” Ammon said.
Social anxiety can manifest in a number of ways.
“The most obvious symptoms to look for include experiencing severe discomfort in social situations and the choice to avoid social outings,” Ammon said. “Often this discomfort or avoidance is fueled by fears of being judged or embarrassed.”
You may also notice physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and feeling flushed in social situations.
Experts say people who have never experienced social anxiety in the past may be surprised to find they are feeling it now.
“I think a lot of people are experiencing unexpected feelings,” said Franklin Schneier, MD, co-director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at The New York State Psychiatric Institute, located at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Even people who aren’t particularly socially anxious may feel a bit awkward jumping back into activities that were previously comfortable for them.”
One reason for this is that a lot of people are simply out of practice. “Partially, …….