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Ask a Therapist: I'm Feeling Anxious About Being Social Again

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Every month, our Ask a Therapist series answers your most pressing questions about mental health. Have a question you'd like answered by our therapists? Send us an e-mail at community@mindbeacon.com. We'd love to hear from you!

While many of us continue to stay isolated from friends, family and colleagues, the idea of going back into the world and connecting with others again might make us feel anxious and afraid. We may feel like we've lost our social skills and thoughts can arise that make us experience the fear of judgment from others. So, what do you do if you're feeling anxious about being social again? 

Here's what Dr. Khush Amaria, PhD, CPsych, Senior Clinical Director and Clinical Psychologist had to say: 

I understand, you’re not alone. It’s normal to feel anxious given the novelty of what we’ve experienced over the past year.

Social anxiety usually involves having negative thoughts about the impression you think you make on others or worrying you will be embarrassed in a social situation. For some, quarantine allowed a form of ‘escape’ from social events, which in the short term might provide relief, but in the long term, makes getting back to being social again more difficult. For others, the quarantine may have instigated some new distorted views or worries that didn’t exist before – such as “I’ll look like a fool” or “people won’t want to spend time with me.” Getting back to real life will involve challenging those types of beliefs and slowly taking steps to face those situations one experience at a time, instead of continuing to escape.

As things open up, you can use this chance for some self-reflection about who you are as a result of the pandemic experience. Think about what you want to retain from your social experiences during the pandemic, how you want to grow and what you’d rather leave behind once the pandemic is over.

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"Social anxiety usually involves having negative thoughts about the impression you think you make on others or worrying you will be embarrassed in a social situation."

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Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.