With restrictions lifting in Australia, shops and cafes are reopening, social gatherings are permitted again and things are slowly starting to head back towards normal. And while many people are jumping at the chance to get back out there, some of us are feeling rather reluctant. Even though being isolated for so long can feel lonely, people with social anxiety tendencies may feel pretty overwhelmed by the thought of seeing friends and family face to face again.
After months of lockdown, the opportunity has come for us to reemerge from our solitary cocoons. Don’t let anxiety hold you back, just put one foot in front of the other and follow these steps.
Step 1: Recognise The Need For Connection
If there is anything the vast majority of us are battling at the moment it is a loss of connection. Social connection is so important as it improves mental health and brings joy and purpose to our lives. Studies have found that it has a physical effect too, strong social connection improves our immune system and can lengthen our life expectancy. On the flip side, however, it’s been shown that a lack of social connection can be more detrimental to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. Yikes! So with all this in mind, it’s time to recognize the importance of connection and prioritize it. Even though we are so lucky to have the technology we have right now, nothing compares to actually being with someone in person.
Step 2: Make Plans (And Keep Them!)
Reach out to a friend and make some plans to catch up. And most importantly, don’t cancel! Even if social anxiety is kicking in during the lead up to the date, just commit to showing up and see what happens from there. Chances are your friend might be really needing this connection too.
Step 3: Keep It Short And Sweet
For sensitive people, being around others can be quite intense at the moment as we are so used to being in our own environment. Make the catch up just for a short time and focus on an activity to do together -bonus points if it is in nature. You could organize a bushwalk, a picnic, playing frisbee in the park, or doing something crafty.
Step 4: Come Home And Relax
Just like the importance of Shavasana after a yoga session, don’t forget to relax and decompress once you come home. Take some time for yourself and do something that helps you come back to your center: run a bath, read a book, watch a comforting show, diffuse some oils, put on your favorite playlist or cook a nice meal.
Don’t plan too many social events in a short space of time, just take it slow for now and allow plenty of white space.
Step 5: Natural Medicine
Another thing that can really help social anxiety is herbal and nutritional medicine. Magnesium and B vitamins would be great to supplement during this time as they help to support the stress response and promote relaxation. If you want to utilize herbal medicine, Withania is an excellent place to start as it is calming, adaptogenic, and is great for building resilience and reducing stress and anxiety. Always feel free to contact a naturopath or other health professional for extra support.