becoming social again after covid
The impact COVID-19 had on socialization is immeasurable. As a society we experienced a lost sense of community due to being unable to effectively socialize. Health guidelines including social distancing and quarantining prevented the spread of COVID-19, yet took an emotional toll on many individuals. Being isolated from friends, family, and everyday routine is extremely difficult for humans. Socialization is a basic human need that helps ward off feelings of loneliness, sharpens cognitive skills, and increases one's sense of happiness and well-being. Although COVID-19 is still around, restrictions have lifted to effectively socialize with others and continue on with our daily routines. For some, this is an exciting time but for others this can prompt social anxiety and worry about health and safety. Improving one's comfort with socialization post COVID-19 is important to increase overall wellbeing.
One way to increase your comfort level with socialization post COVID-19 is to practice your social skills. This can be done through continuing daily conversations with those you feel comfortable with. Make an effort to practice your listening skills by asking open-ended questions and paying attention to what is said while being friendly. If you feel awkward during these conversations, know that this is a normal feeling experienced by many. Something to keep in mind is your social limits. These may have changed since before COVID-19. If at one point you were able to socialize for 4 hours and are now drained after an hour, reflect on this and try to find plans that fit your social limits. Avoid taking on too many social tasks all at once since your ability to manage social events has been reduced. Practicing self-care through journaling, exercising, or watching a relaxing television show is recommended to decrease stress after socialization.
Another way to increase your comfort level with socialization post COVID-19 is to address any safety concerns you may have surrounding social interactions. Although having these conversations can be awkward, it is important to have conversations to ensure everyone is on the same page. It is better to understand what will go on at the event than to arrive and be surprised that others are handling things differently than you. Keep in mind that it is acceptable to make suggestions or negotiate plans when you do not feel comfortable or safe. Doing so will allow others to know your concerns and provide support to minimize them.
If you are avoiding socialization and experiencing anxiety that is impacting your daily routine, it is time to seek the help of a mental health professional. With the help of a therapist, one can identify the root cause of the anxiety and develop coping strategies for when you are in difficult situations. Re-entering the world of socialization can create feelings of panic or anxiety. You are not alone.
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