Leaving lockdown anxiety? Try focusing on improving social interactions instead.
Updated: Jul 25
Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology said “Social relationships do not guarantee high happiness…but high happiness does not appear to occur without them.” Whether we’ve preferred a respectable social distance, or are straining at the mask to invade space with hands and face, social interaction is good for our health.
But if you’re anxious about leaving lockdown, focus less on “managing it”, and instead in the skills (all under your control!) to go out there and rock it!
Try these tips which focus more on how to improve your social interactions, rather than manage anxiety - and live the new normal you want to achieve!
1. Assume an attitude of gratitude
Rather than thinking about the things that you don’t want, really appreciate the things you do. It’s actually a blessing to be saying you don’t want x y or z, because it means you are still afforded those options. Gratitude practice reduces anxiety and even stimulates the motivation and emotion centres in the brain propelling us to positive outlook and action. Try the following 4 step gratitude process and reflect on:
- One thing you are proud of in yourself
- One thing you have learned today (personally or professionally)
- One person you love having in your life (and tell them)
- One thing in your life you appreciate
As a bonus tip, if you regularly engage in gratitude practice, say, asking those questions for a week, you will recognise specific things and people will always pop up – spend more time with them doing those things…because they are clearly what will enhance your new normal!
2. Decide if YOU want to make it a conversation:
Remember you do not have to give more time to others than you choose. Try the following to politely continue, or close a conversation:
- Active positive response: Oh that’s so interesting, why/what/how did you do that…?
- Passive positive response: Oh that’s so interesting, thanks for sharing.
3. Learn to listen from lockdown
Rather than interrupt a conversation with what you want to say, learn something from video call etiquette. Having to pause before the other person stops speaking on a video call is something that serves us well to retain “IRL”. For the speaker it allows them the opportunity to complete their thought – and in response we are better informed before we reply. This will deepen the quality of our interactions – which in turn can generate oxytocin helping us feel good without further intervention.
4. Dress up!
Dressing up can boost our mood! Not only do we walk taller when we are feeling appealing – boosting our sense of confidence, but regularly practicing good posture it is great for our breathing and calms the nervous system improving our sleep quality and overall bodily functions. So dig out all those outfits that haven’t had a chance for an airing!
5. Boost your happiness naturally
Who says you even need to see others – just embrace the fresh air. Sunlight naturally stimulates the production of vitamin D revitalising our immune system, and exercising in the sun produces serotonin (which helps regulates our sleep and appetite) and dopamine (the “feel good” neurotransmitter), and can help produce endorphins (our body’s natural pain relievers). Topping up your energy tank makes the moments that drain your energy far more bearable.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For coaching tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt