Coping with Social Anxiety during Social Distancing

Expert Stories | Ms. Dinusha Wickremesekera, Lecturer In Psychology

For almost a year now we have been worried about catching the infectious disease Covid 19 from anyone who is within close physical proximity to us. The news has been filled with stories of the number of infections and the symptoms.

Wherever we go there is someone masked taking our temperature. You could now be in a habit where the mask is one of the things you reach for like you would your mobile phone or your keys. You may notice people for if they would or wouldn’t be wearing a mask. A cough or even just a clearing of the throat could make one immediately feels the threat looming.

Our fears are also absorbed by our children. They might not understand it exactly as we do. They do know that things have changed – they are seeing you more at home, or if they are of preschool age – they can no longer go to school. They might also be wondering why they are not seeing other family members or friends.

We have lived almost a year like this and there is a certain level to which we are accustomed to social distancing. And yet you would feel trepidation as you step outside as someone comes close. This anxiety and fear have lasted a long time with the long lockdown in March 2020 and the second lockdown. We must navigate this new reality with masks, resilience, and adaptability and more importantly with kindness towards ourselves and others.

We need to understand what we are experiencing and examine why to help us to cope with this new reality. We cope. We have been coping all this time. It is time we also thrive.

There is agreement all around that while the lockdown brought about a lot of anxieties, it also had hidden blessings. Parents got to be at home with their child(ren) for extended periods, to get to know their child(ren). The balancing act between work and the home was heightened pressure as work invaded the domain of the family. And with schools online it meant that as a parent you had to take on some of the supervisory activities that a teacher in a physical classroom would do.

What was the hidden blessing(s) for you? How many roles did you have to play?

Can you think of the nature of your interactions, be it even over the phone or in-person? How as the quality of your connections been? What helped you to curb the thoughts of fear that inevitably finds their way to the forefront of all thoughts.

What strategies did you use to adapt? And how did you thrive?

Reflection on what is going on in our thoughts and our body helps us to process complete the thought.

How did you talk of this with your children to help them to process it?

Let us know. Leave a comment on your experience through the lockdown.

And don’t forget to give yourself and those around you some appreciation you made it so far.