5 Ways To Overcome Social Anxiety While In Quarantine & Practicing Social Distancing

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5 Ways To Overcome Social Anxiety While In Quarantine & Social Distancing
Self

If there’s one thing we should have learned from quarantine by now, it's to never take our freedom for granted. But every day there's a new theory being spread across media outlets on how long we will have to stay inside, about how coronavirus is mutating, and how it's being spread in ways we didn’t even consider.

The fear this has ignited is keeping us indoors as much as possible, and it breeds increased feelings of anxiety with each outing.

Can we learn how to overcome social anxiety when these thoughts plague us?

While these thoughts are new to many of us, for others, this debilitating fear of going outside or interacting with people is a daily experience.

What is social anxiety?

RELATED: What It's Like To Struggle With A Social Anxiety Disorder Every Day

Social anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety, affecting approximately 15 million adults in America, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

The ADAA states that a defining feature of social anxiety is in an intense fear of being received negatively in social situations. Interactions that are daily, mundane occurrences for many can cause extreme distress for a person suffering from social anxiety. This can cause people suffering from the disorder to retreat from daily life.

Poet, healer, and community organizer, Salaam Green, spent 8 years without leaving her house, except for work. “The idea of walking towards my front door and wrapping my hand around the knob brought a numbing pain throughout my body,” she described.

The constant state of distress that Green describes is replicated in how many are reacting to the pandemic. She refers to the thoughts of death and catastrophe that racked her brain even prior to the pandemic.

For those who were already suffering from such a condition, or might be showing signs of it now, being forced to stay indoors is more harmful than you might think.

You could be mistaken into thinking quarantine eases social anxiety by removing the pressure to socialize, but overcoming social anxiety requires a consistent engagement with meaningful social activities.

The current social climate allows anxieties to fester, meaning those attempting to overcome social phobias are challenged now more than ever. So, if you or someone you know is suffering from social anxiety disorder, here are ways to improve mental health.

1. Think of "social distancing" as "distanct socializing."

Adapting to the current situation is key to staying in control of your recovery. This is a unique opportunity to combine the comfort of home with the challenge of socialization.

Initiating social contact is intimidating but rewarding. Start by reaching out to one friend or family member and arranging a video call. Once you’ve practiced this a few times, consider making it a group call with some more people.

Rather than surrendering to your fears, use this time to encourage yourself to socialize.

RELATED: 7 Ways To Use Mindfulness To Calm Panic & Anxiety During The Coronavirus Pandemic

2. Interrogate your own fears.

Getting to the root of your anxiety helps you understand your triggers.

Take some time to reflect on what exactly you are afraid of. Set yourself up with challenges to see if your fears are really worth getting worked up over.

For example, if you’re afraid your friends will reject you or judge you negatively, ask yourself after your calls if that happened. If you’re worried about messing up while on a conference call at work, why not make a small mistake deliberately and see if it’s as bad as you think?

3. Remember your long-term goals.

This is a trying time for all of us and it’s easy to get caught up in the pessimism of the media.

Though it doesn’t seem like it right now, this situation is temporary. We must hold on to the hopes and goals we had before quarantine and continue to work towards them.

Ask yourself: When lockdown rules are lifted, what do you want to be able to do? Go out and meet up with friends? Go on a date? Present an idea at work?

Continuing to practice socializing and challenging yourself will bring you closer to those goals. 

4. Recognize your accomplishments.

Doing even the smallest task that causes anxiety is a huge achievement, and nothing is too small to celebrate.

You should expect to feel anxious every time you push yourself out of your comfort zone — and that’s okay! Make sure you notice these moments and recognize that things get easier with practice.

Every time you say to yourself, “That wasn’t so bad,” take it as a win. You’re growing and becoming more brave.

5. Stop being so hard on yourself.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought new worries for even the most calm, sociable people. With your routine out of sync, and more concerns around health and finances, you might be feeling a little extra anxious. That’s normal.

Take advantage of this time to practice short-term soothing like self-care or meditation. Then, pick yourself up and look to the future.

Don’t be afraid to talk to others about your anxiety, too. Now, more than ever, people will understand and want to support you as best they can. 

RELATED: 4 Ways To Help Your Partner Overcome Their Social Anxiety (Without Seriously Damaging Your Relationship)

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Alice Kelly is a writer that is passionate about lifestyle, entertainment and trending topics.

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