struggling with social anxiety post-lockdown
I'm from victoria and over the past few weeks, restrictions have been easing more and more. We're now able to see more people and there are less limits to what we can do and where we can go, which is great and i've been looking forward to this for months! But I feel like I'm still in lockdown. I haven't been going out very much. It's not because of fear of covid, it's more so due to anxiety about being out in public and socialising. I do have anxiety but previously have never really experienced social anxiety too badly.I love going out and socialising. But after how many months of lockdown, I feel so anxious about being seen, worried about saying something stupid or whatever.
It doesn't really help that a couple days ago when I was at the shops with my mum and my brother's girlfriend, a strange middle aged guy approached me and asked for some of my hair and was complimenting my hair as he stroked my hair. It was very uncomfortable. As a young woman I have experienced uncomfortable and unwanted male attention before, but until now I had never experienced someone getting in my personal space like that. I'm 18 and I want to be going out and having fun but after that incident I feel more anxious about going out.
I'm less anxious about going to my friends house, but when it comes to going to the shops or going to a restaurant, I can't get myself to do it. I feel miserable that after months of isolating, I'm still kinda isolating myself. I want to be able to go out and enjoy life. Recently I've also been feeling insecure and anxious about not being good enough (not being a good enough friend, not being good enough for the guy i like to like me back, etc). I was so excited about lockdown ending, I'm so confused where all this anxiety came from!
Hi spontaneous sunflower,
You're not the only one! All over Australia (and parts of the world), as people come out of lockdown they are finding themselves in the same puzzling situation you are in: having the legal freedom to get out and about again, but anxiety about doing it. I've been struggling with it every day so far, and like you say, just feeling more sensitive in general about my other insecurities.
My best guess is that socializing is like a muscle, and when you let it get a bit weak or atrophied you're hesitant to use it again. Slowly but surely as you exercise it (go out, see more people, return to social life), it will get stronger and start to feel like second nature again.
In regards to the incident you referenced from the other day, that is obviously completely inappropriate behaviour and a violation of your personal space (during a pandemic no less!). It's no wonder at all that it's made you even more anxious about going out, and no doubt it was a reminder of some of the less pleasant aspects of public life that you simply don't have to deal with at home. I think the advantages of having a controlled, contained environment at home have been come familiar and comfortable to all of us, perhaps a bit too much.
Recognizing that you're self-isolating puts you miles ahead of the pack in terms of getting yourself back to normal. Just gently try to notice when you're doing it, and simply take a walk, set up a small, low-pressure get-together, or some other brief outing. It will come easier in time, it's been a wild experience for everyone.
Hello spontaneous sunflower,
Gems has already given you great advice. I may sound repetitive here, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm going through the same thing (and I also know of others who are struggling with the same anxiety about going out). Even when I'm outside, I try not to make eye contact with anyone these days! I can't imagine how awful it must have been to have that middle aged guy behave so inappropriately, especially now when it already takes effort for you to be outside, interacting with people.
Gems is right, socializing is like a muscle. Try heading to nearby shops (particularly those you used to go to frequently) and buying something. Slowly increase the time you spend shopping, progress to eating out in a restaurant (or if that still gives you anxiety, try doing a take away order at a restaurant first). You'll soon get used to the idea of getting out and socializing again. Don't lose hope 🙂