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How to deal with social anxiety post-pandemic

Many people have developed anxiety being around others and returning to social gatherings during the pandemic, which is a normal feeling.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — We've spent a good portion of the past year making sure we're far enough away from people and properly distancing.

As more and more events open back up to large crowds, a lot of us are excited about the prospect of returning to "normal." Often, you may feel overwhelmed or anxious when you find yourself in those big crowds again.

The American Psychological Association surveyed people about returning to in-person interactions. Nearly half of all Americans they spoke to, 49 percent, said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends. 

Forty-six percent of the people they surveyed say they don't feel comfortable going back to living life like they used to before the pandemic. That means as we head back to large social events like the Florida State Fair, the Grand Prix and sporting events -- as well as back to work in the office, a lot of people are going to feel nervous and anxious.

Psychologist Dr. Jessica Borushok says that's a normal, common feeling. She suggests giving yourself time.

"You might be someone in the past who would go to brunch in the afternoon, another event in the evening...make sure you leave space before and after a big event to emotionally and physically prepare yourself for the energy drain for exhaustion in addition to the excitement," Borushok said.

She also reminds you to take a breath when you're feeling overwhelmed in the moment. 

"When we're anxious, we tend to speed up. Take a moment, take a breath and slow yourself down," Borushok said.

Allow yourself kindness and take everything one step at a time. It's okay if you're not ready to jump right back into large social events or to head back to work in the office right away. Ease yourself back into the "new normal" we're approaching.

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