Community Psychiatry’s Allie Shapiro, M.D. is featured in Healthline providing tips on how to handle anxiety as we ease back into normal life following the end of quarantine.
5 Simple Tips to Help Manage Social Anxiety After Leaving Lockdown
By: Cathy Cassata, 06/15/2020 | Healthline
1. Ease back into it
For those who live with social anxiety, Dr. Allie R. Shapiro, psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry, says to slowly enter into a social life.
“This will help them to ease into situations that were previously uncomfortable. As quarantine ends, the auto-avoidance will also end, necessitating their introduction back into situations they deeply fear. That’s not a leap anyone should take all at once,” Shapiro told Healthline.
2. Visualize situations in your head
Shapiro recommends preparing for upcoming social events by role-playing specific worries or concerns with someone you trust, on paper or in your head.
Abelovska elaborates by explaining if you have an upcoming walk planned with a friend or are about to meet them at the park, try to mentally plan your meetup and how you’d like it to go.
“Visualize your friend when you see them and what you will say. It may be awkward at first, especially as we are not able to hug or touch friends, but you will soon adapt to the new way of greeting a loved one,” she said.
Another strategy Shapiro suggests is to challenge internal negative thought patterns with a reversal thought, either before or during anxiety-provoking situations.
For example, if you’re going to an outing where you’ll be around new people, she says, “Instead of auto-thinking, ‘These people won’t like me and will make fun of me,’ try: ‘They’ve been stuck inside for months just like me. We’ll trade stories. They will like me and I’ll probably find one new friend,’” she said.
3. Allow yourself to be scared
Even if it seems like everyone around you isn’t worried or scared to get back into the world, Shapiro says it’s acceptable to have your own reaction and anxieties about the situation.
“Remember, no one has ever been through anything like this in the modern world, so no one really knows how to do it ‘right.’ Even the experts don’t have all the answers, so it’s normal to have your own uncertainties and doubts,” she said.
Socialize at your comfort level, Shapiro adds.
“You’re not obligated to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or puts you at risk. There are a lot of different factors that will affect when you feel it’s the best time to start venturing out. Think about your age, health history, quarantine situations, and even your own anxiety when taking that next step outside,” Shapiro said.
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