Despite all the great things the pandemic has brought in, things moving online and the convenience it has brought, there's no comparison to even the best technology for rich human connection. The staggered vaccine roll out will likely lead to a gradual return to normal, so we have some time to readjust to seeing others and socializing in groups. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you stop avoiding social situations:
1. One way to ease back into socialization is to start by seeking out little moments of connection, like chatting with a stranger at Tim’s while waiting the line up or giving a compliment to a store employee. Speak to your neighbors, talk to the taxi driver, talk to the amazon delivery driver if they come to the door, stop pretending you aren’t home. These conversations are moments of shared humanity that help you build your skills. It helps us feel connected to other humans around us which we all need. If there is a break in the conversation or it’s feeling a bit awkward you can’t go wrong with asking the person a question about themselves, people usually love a chance to talk about themselves and it’s a nice feeling that someone cares.
2. It can feel uncomfortable but stop avoiding social situations. Avoidance is what fuels the anxiety. It's hard to believe but there will be a day we will all be together again. We will be in each other’s homes and we may even be in a crowded room without a mask again someday! Try not to go more than a few days without human connection of some kind.
3. There's no “perfect” way to be social so let go of trying to always sound intelligent, interesting, or entertaining. Also, not everyone has to like you so lower the bar and be yourself. There is nothing wrong with you, be kind and show others when you like them. Plus, the more you focus on others the more you can be hyper focused on your own appearance or actions.
Take baby steps towards getting back into it with the suggestions above and see your confidence slowly return. Remember that how you feel is not how you look. If social anxiety continues to overwhelm you, therapy can help.