Relearning and Readjusting Post-COVID Share +

Posted by: coronadosafe 1 month, 4 weeks ago

An Emotional Intelligence 5-Part Series

Part 4: Social Skills

There’s a sense of excitement in our island community. Stores are reopening, events are returning, and summer will soon be in full swing. But even as things start to look more like normal, some of us might feel anything but. 

Post-pandemic social anxiety is both a source of comical memes and a point of serious research. The latter suggests that real changes in brain function and structure from prolonged isolation could make us feel awkward in social situations that used to be second nature. Essentially, social skills can decrease just like muscles when they are not used.

“We’ve been forced to be asocial, at least in physical terms, for a year now,” the BBC writes. “As a result, many are finding that any in-person social interaction is awkward – it feels like we have to re-learn how to sit in a room with another human.”

So, how do we get back to normal social interactions? Here are a few tips:

Embrace Emotional Intelligence

Social skills intertwine with emotional intelligence, or the ability to recognize and respond to emotions. In previous articles, we’ve discussed several concepts along the continuum of emotional intelligence—self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-motivation—that build stronger social skills naturally. Read each piece at CoronadoSAFE.org. By seeing the big picture and sharpening the skills that define emotional intelligence, you will gain a stronger sense of self and, in turn, feel more confident navigating social interactions.

Practice Self-Compassion

During the strictest lockdowns and most rattling outbreaks of the pandemic, we were told to be kind to ourselves. The same mantra applies now to social anxiety. Instead of telling yourself, “I’m so awkward,” try, “I’m a good friend.” If you tend to ruminate after an interaction, remind yourself that you have been through a lot and are once again adapting to a new environment. Parents especially may have some adjusting to do, both for themselves and with children whose social skills might have regressed during distance learning.

Envision Interactions Ahead

If you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming social situation, play out the scenario in your head step by step. Picture yourself leaving your house, stepping out of your car, and entering the building. Who might you talk to? What are some things you can say? Anticipating the social dynamics of a setting not only helps shed fear, but also functions as a form of mental preparation to minimize those subtle but seemingly monumental moments of awkwardness. This same exercise can be effective with children as well.

Keep Perspective

What do you appreciate in a conversation? What kinds of questions do you like to be asked? When you share something, how do you like other people to respond? Identify your ideal interactions and prioritize them as you slowly reclaim your social life. And remember, children might be feeling anxious, too. You can impart emotional intelligence on your kids from an early age by walking them through their own emotions as well as those of others. 

As examples, you might ask a child, “When your aunt comes over, what can you say or do to make her feel welcomed?” or, “I saw that you shared your toy, how do you think that made him feel when you did that?” 

Little learning moments go a long way for you and your children alike. Access a world of mental wellness and parenting resources, right in your backyard, at Coronado SAFE. Visit CoronadoSAFE.org, sign up for our e-newsletter, and follow us on social media @CoronadoSAFE.