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August 24, 2020

Managing Anxiety As We Go Back Into The World

Shift Team

A woman walking outside with a mask on looking down at her cell phone in hand.

Social Anxiety

Canada is slowly opening up again and with the changes you may find yourself experiencing some anxiety as you consider how to navigate the social world once more. 

For many of us, the only in-person social contact we’ve had for the past 4 months is with a handful of people, and the concept of ordering or being served food while in the presence of friends feels positively ancient.

When you have limited social contact for an extended period of time, it can reduce your tolerance of the novel stimuli that come with socializing (like loud laughter, dogs barking, cutlery clinking) which can make these situations feel overwhelming. 

Below are some tips to help you navigate this anxiety.

1. Know your boundaries 

Ask, who and where? Reflect on what you are comfortable with before scheduling social plans. Are there certain friends you are comfortable to invite into your bubble, and others you would prefer to see with a mask on? Are you comfortable visiting patios where plexiglass separates the tables but masks aren’t worn? Would you prefer socializing in quiet parks or are you comfortable visiting a beach with many other people around?

2. Start small 

If you’ve been inside most of the day most days for 5 months, a day spent shopping or seeing a friend for hours might feel like a big change, even if it used to feel normal. Consider planning one social event once or twice a week, with just a small number of people.

3. Practice coping in advance of socializing 

Use strategies that work for you to ground yourself for a few minutes before you head out to meet your company. Some examples could be belly or box breathing, exercise, or checking your thoughts. 

If you’re not sure what strategies would work for you consider speaking to your therapist to learn some new strategies or brainstorm.

4. Take coping strategies with you 

Reflect on what strategies you could use in the moment if anxiety arises. You’ll be prepared if it does arise and the confidence that preparation brings can help keep anxiety at bay.

This article was written by Hayley Darychuk during their time at Shift Collab.

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