The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a mental toll on almost every individual. Some people may have experienced a degree of social anxiety during this time with the changing social dynamics. In a coffee shop or a hypermarket store, you are now expected to strictly follow protocols, wear masks all time, stand at a distance and if you faulter at complying with any of these protocols, you might end up feeling anxious or ashamed. During the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an added list of social requirements that seem to evolve on a daily basis. It’s enough to make anyone throw up their hands and retreat in defeat, whether socially anxious or not.
While some individuals with social anxiety issues may have been relieved by the social distancing protocols, some of them have experienced increased anxiety due to isolation. Transcontinental Times spoke to Coach Rebe, Career and Transition Coach to seek more insights on the issue of social anxiety.
What causes social anxiety in youth?
As humans, we all look for a sense of certainty and control over our lives but Covid-19 pandemic has imposed a lot of uncertainty and everyone is forced to deal with the ‘Fear of the Unknown. The uncertainty pertaining to health care, job loss or financial distress causes added pressure and hampers the mental well-being of people of all age groups. There are certain social triggers responsible for this anxiety, especially in youth. Social anxiety is a threat response. The fear of being judged at every point in life can make it worst for the person struggling with this feeling. The feeling of being unheard by the near and dear ones can cause more damage to the mental health. Dealing with continuous peer pressure of proving something or trying to pretend to be someone else just to fit in with a certain group of people can cause a lot of distress.
Another key aspect to be considered is the sense of high resistance towards handling rejections in various personal and professional situations.
How to manage social anxiety during the pandemic?
The Pandemic has a substantial impact on people across all walks of life. Many are struggling with the harsh circumstances and eventually learning to deal strongly with unprecedented circumstances. It takes courage to accept the uncertainty but it’s the most impactful way to deal with your anxiety. People are forced to live in isolation which can be very frustrating. The chances are high that you can feed your fear during this phase of uncertainty; Stop feeding your fear!
Self-help strategies to manage the social anxiety.
- Observe your thoughts, what triggers social anxiety – By identifying your anxiety triggers which are causing unwanted stress and worries, you will get more conscious about your thoughts and be prepared to start to deviate the attention towards a more positive conversation or activity.
- Right companionship: Keep yourself surrounded by people with positive outlook and socialise more with them. Interacting with people who are non-judgemental will open new avenues for learning for you without being fearful of getting judged at every point. You will soon start feeling that you don’t have to prove yourself to everyone and your personal characteristics are genuine and you are no longer faking it.
- Self-love: Low self-esteem can put you at the risk of social anxiety which can re-inforce your negative self-image. According to a study published in Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, people with social anxiety have ‘Low social self-esteem’. They seek negative social feedback through a process called ‘self-verification’. One must try and learn to be happy about themselves. Make it a point to learn something new every six months and stay grateful for everything you have. The perception of looking at life changes drastically and has the power to impact your life positively.