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Overcoming Fear Of Social Interactions After The Pandemic

While some people are elated that they will be able to resume some activities, there are still some people who are filled with fear, as they think about returning to their pre-pandemic life. You might be anxious as to how to adjust to the "new normal" as things continue to open up in phases. After all, we’ve all spent the last year in quarantine, the only thing happening in the name of communication was talking through a screen or from behind a face mask.

Being outside the bubble will feel overwhelming but there are few key points to keep in mind to help you ease that anxiety.

Name your emotions and identify them

It’s crucial to notice when you’re feeling anxious and also in which situations it happens often.

Research states that the naming of emotions can reduce their intensity. So you should ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now?” Whether it is just anxiousness, a little bit of fear, or terror, just labelling them might give you some instant relief. Maybe you’ve enjoyed working from home and being with the family, and the thought of being apart is causing some distress. No matter what you are feeling, it's important to identify it.

Perhaps it's just some bit of anxiety when you think of meeting people socially, interacting with them, which has not happened for almost a year now. Or maybe, you’re just stressed about all the things you’re going to have to do now that people are returning to the new normal, which includes even simple things like greeting people socially.

Taking a few minutes for yourself and trying to figure out exactly what you’re afraid of can help you develop a plan. If you’re afraid of getting sick, create a plan for increasing safety. If you’re just fearful in general, you might create a plan to take care of yourself and formulate a new routine for adjusting to the new normal.

Let go and reframe those negative thoughts

In times of distress, we often find ourselves focusing more on the negative part and indulging in catastrophic thinking. Identify such patterns and reframe your negative thoughts by reminding yourself of the things that might go better than you expect.

For example, life will be difficult getting used to the new normal- still in masks, still maintaining distance but think of how you can go out once in a while to your friend's place or even go out shopping taking all the necessary precautions.

Shift your focus towards things you can control and not what you can’t

Worrying about all the things you can’t control will only add up to the tension as you can do nothing to prevent problems from occurring. So, it’s important to stay focused on the things you can control. Focus on how you will see a new change in your life and how you can choose which social events to attend and which not to due to the social distancing. Learn to deviate yourself and keep the most focus on the things which are in your hands.

Take things at your own pace and decide for yourself and your family. Just because the cinemas are open or if the shops are open, you can still decide not to visit them. There can be a lot of times wherein you have to attend meetings physically as your boss wants you to. But remember, there are always things you can control. For example, you can control what you can eat, your schedule, how much you want to exercise. Staying focused on those things might help you manage the new change in a healthy way.

Use Healthy Coping Skills 

Don't indulge in negative habits like smoking and drinking to run away from reality by taking an escape route. Learn to manage your emotions healthily. There are many things you can do to take care of yourself. But what works for you might not work for someone else.

It’s important to test out a variety of coping strategies to learn what works for you. It’s up to you to decide what works best. It is advised to indulge in breathing exercises and also physical activity to keep the serotonin levels in check. Use thought records to keep track of your anxious thoughts and negative thinking patterns and try to turn those into positive coping statements.

It is important to realise that any coping strategy could become a disaster for us. Playing video games all night long, indulging in some hobby for long periods, so you can avoid tackling real-life challenges, or binge-watching your favourite show are few examples that will disturb the work-life balance. So while it’s OK to use a coping skill to temporarily distract you, be cautious that it is not creating havoc in your life by messing up with your routine and To-do lists.

Keep a check on your media consumption 

Consuming information about stressful events constantly can even trigger you and can keep you preoccupied. While it’s crucial to stay informed, monitor how much media you’re consuming. Make it a habit to only check news, once or twice a day and also mindfully use social media. Doing so will give your mind a much-needed rest from all types of news.

If you’re stressed as to how things would turn out after resuming normal activities, know that you aren’t alone. And while you might not feel comfortable sharing your fears with everyone out there, other people feel the same. However, that does not mean that it is insurmountable for you to return to your life that makes sense for you. That sphere of your life might not look the same as it was in the past, but has new lessons in store for you.

If the stress levels are tough and are making it difficult to function, consider taking professional help. You can access the self-help content available in our curated content library to learn more about coping with stressful situations in healthy ways. You can even reach out and drop a message in HappiCHAT whenever you feel like venting and sharing your feelings.