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Home / Advice / / So is that it? Adapting to lifting of restrictions

So is that it? Adapting to lifting of restrictions

By: Shauna McNamara

Updated: 10 March 2022

So is that it? Adapting to lifting of restrictions

For almost two years, we have been living in fear of this virus and some of us have struggled more than we have ever thought imaginable. As restrictions are lifted, it is completely normal to feel some level of nervousness or anxiety, particularly if you’ve been isolated or in a small social bubble and are now starting to mix in larger groups.

We all have feelings of anxiety, worry and fear sometimes. These can be normal responses to certain situations. For example, you might worry about a job interview, or about paying a bill on time. These feelings can bring an awareness of threats and what we need to do in a difficult or dangerous situation. This reaction is known as ‘fight or flight’. Our brain responds to a threat or danger by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Even if the danger is not real, these hormones cause the physical symptoms of anxiety. When you are removed from the particular situation, your body will usually return to normal.

People with anxiety disorders often have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. There are many different types of anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder and specific phobias.

What does social anxiety mean?

Social anxiety can be defined as the persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which one is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others, and where exposure to such situations causes intense anxiety. It can have a massive impact on our day-to-day lives and can impact on our interactions with others, relationships and sometimes our work. Social anxiety doesn’t necessarily pass when removed from a social situation and we may find that we contemplate things we’ve said or not said, things we did or didn’t do, often questioning our actions. It can have a massive impact on our day-to-day lives and can influence our interactions with others, affecting relationships and sometimes our work. The anxiety often doesn’t end when the socialising finishes and we may find that we contemplate things we’ve said or not said, things we did or didn’t do, often questioning our actions. Currently, social anxiety is believed to affect approximately 14% of Irish people, but the announcement of further easing of restrictions, may trigger social anxiety in others for the first time.

Common symptoms of social anxiety:

o   Feeling extreme stress and anxiety in social situations

o   Fearing that others will notice your anxiety

o   Discomfort in being the centre of attention

o   Feeling others are watching or judging you

o   Feeling rude or unfriendly

o   Rehearsing or reliving conversations

o   Avoiding asking people for help

o   Assuming people think badly of you

o   Making up reasons for not attending social situations

o   Not showing or being your true self

How to prepare ourselves to start socialising again? What will help ease the anxiety?

If you feel like you may have some or all the above symptoms, you are not alone, and many others will be experiencing the same thing. Taking our time and easing ourselves back into socialising will help. We don’t have to rush back into social events or feel under pressure to do so. Reaching out to others within your social circles should help to ease the anxiety you may be feeling. Similarly with work, if you have the flexibility to do so, start by going into the office a couple of days a week, to see how you feel. When you feel more comfortable, in control, and ready to step into a social or work environment, take your time and take it easy the day or night beforehand.

Social anxiety fuels on the anticipation that the worst-case scenario will happen, and often the thought is worse than the situation itself. You may start to feel better after a couple of days in the office or after the first few social events, when you realise that the worst-case scenario has not happened.

If you find that your anxiety doesn’t ease, starts to interfere with your day-to-day life. Or even becomes worse, it may be time to reach out to your GP, counsellor or psychotherapist, as there are treatment options available, including medication and counselling or psychotherapy. Counselling can help by using a technique called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), through which a therapist will help you to identify your negative thoughts and start to change them.

None of us will forget this pandemic, especially those who have experienced so much hardship and grief, but we will adapt and find new ways of managing.


‘’Change is never easy, but always possible’’


Michele Bianchini Psychotherapist Location: Online

Approach: Psychodynamic Therapy , Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Person-Centred Therapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Depression , Bereavement / Loss , Anxiety

Next avaialble appointment: 16:00 29 September 2022

Katarzyna Sowinska Psychologist Location: Online

Approach: Person-Centred Therapy , Solution-Focused Brief Therapy , Mindfulness

Works with: Individual Session , Couples Session , Extended couples session

Specialities: Personal Development , Depression , Anxiety , Relationship issues , Self-Esteem , Stress , Work Issues, Work/Life balance

Next avaialble appointment: 13:00 28 September 2022

Naomi Black Psychotherapist Location: Dublin 6

Approach: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) , Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Person-Centred Therapy , Psychodynamic Therapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Work Issues, Work/Life balance , Stress , Self-Esteem , Self Care , Relationship issues , Personal Development , Isolation / Loneliness , Anger , Anxiety , Bereavement / Loss , Trauma , Depression

Next avaialble appointment: 11:00 29 September 2022


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