The pandemic had disrupted the normal rhythm of life for most people almost in every way, CNN reported. People were working differently, playing differently, and going about their lives in ways unrecognizable from pre-pandemic days. Some might have even taken to alcohol or junk food or alcohol or other stuff to carry on. Furthermore, the pandemic had stressed many like never before, with worries frightening and acute at first, then exhausting and chronic over the past several months.
For The Socially Anxious The Pandemic Restrictions Offered A Comfort Zone
However, there were people for whom life outside the home in pre-pandemic times was at times frightening and extremely stressful. Such people who were socially anxious had become proficient at keeping their symptoms hidden, which could include irrational fears. They were also overly self-conscious while presenting themselves in social settings. In such circumstances they constantly feared embarrassment or humiliation and worried excessively over social interactions.
Living a sequestered life, keeping social contact at a minimum had come as a blessing for people who were socially anxious.
Staying home bound, interacting through texts and video calls with entertainment provided by puzzles, Netflix, and books had served them very well, they told psychologist John Duffy. They were in no hurry to return to normal life and business as usual.
It was returning to pre-pandemic life that stressed them out.
One could imagine oneself like them if one was not among the crowd. One would live with fear everyday, fearing chance personal encounters, interacting in a group of people, or feeling lonely in crowded spaces. Then there was that nerve racking self-conscious feeling whenever one was in the presence of others.
Consider that a foolish statement one made or any awkward moment one was involved in, returned to haunt again and again. The socially anxious group must be feeling immensely relieved freed as they had been from stressors and demands, which most people had little trouble dealing with.
Social anxiety was not rare, rather 10% to 12% of people over their lifetimes, were diagnosed with social anxiety disorder in the United Kingdom and United States alone and it was feared the number might increase steeply as some people struggled to return to society as it reopened.
Furthermore, many people had to live with agoraphobia in which they nursed a chronic fear of places which could lead to feelings of helplessness, panic or humiliation.
Many individuals who suffered from agoraphobia were essentially homebound, living lives restricted by their anxiety. Duffy said he had worked with many kids who were so anxious even pre-pandemic, they feared going to school.
According to a socially anxious client who spoke to Duffy, personally she had done very well in the pandemic. She added, the Covid-19-related deaths and illnesses were awful, but at a personal level she felt much calmer, much better. She added, it this feeling were to continue for years, that would be fine for her.
With vaccines becoming available and restrictions on workplaces and distances beginning to lift, the socially anxious were experiencing the return of their latent anxieties.
Duffy said he had been concerned about the group returning to a new normal for around a year now, as they had been so steeped in their comfort zone.
A year ago, none would have believed that they would be forced to live in a world in which they would not be allowed to go to school, concerts, restaurants, and churches, and even less any activity would be barred. Duffy said his socially anxious clients had been enjoying a totally false sense of security for a year and more.
Duffy said he had been encouraging his clients to step out of the house daily and pressed them to go shopping, buying meds from the pharmacy, virtually anything to keep them outside the home and taking their fears head on.