If you've been feeling more alone and isolated than usual lately, it's probably because you have been.
Human beings are wired for connection. We need friends, family, and social interactions to feel secure and healthy. But these last couple of years have been tough on all of us. Not only have we had to deal with the stress of being alone, but science tells us that long periods of isolation can also make re-entering social society stressful. A recent study of persons who have endured long periods of isolation—soldiers, astronauts, and prisoners—reveals that social skills atrophy just like muscles that are not used. When these skills atrophy we can find ourselves anxious and awkward in social situations or tempted to avoid them altogether. If this sounds familiar, take heart!
FIRST: CHECK IN WITH YOUR SOCIAL HEALTH
Social health is an important part of our overall happiness and well-being. But it can be hard to recognize social awkwardness in yourself because you might not even be aware of some of the social cues you aren’t picking up on. Instead, you might just notice that you don’t seem to fit in with your peers.
In a recent article, Heidi McKenzie, PsyD explains: “It can be hard to recognize social awkwardness in yourself because you might not even be aware of some of the social cues you aren’t picking up on. Instead, you might just notice that you don’t seem to fit in with your peers.”
To get in touch with your state of social health, spend a moment with this list of experiences from Very Well Mind. If one or more of them sound familiar, you may be experiencing some social awkwardness:
Common social awkwardness signs.
Feeling like you have become oversensitive or hypervigilant
Overreacting to things that do not seem to bother others
Doing things that seem inappropriate (e.g., oversharing during a conversation)
Wanting to be around other people but then finding it hard when you do spend time with them
Misinterpreting the intentions of others (e.g., thinking someone dislikes you or is angry at you because of the expression on their face)
Feeling more self-conscious than usual
Avoiding things that you used to enjoy such as phone calls or meeting up for activities
Making excuses for doing things such as saying that you are too tired
Choosing solitary activities over social activities (e.g., choosing to watch Netflix instead of answering a phone call from a friend)
SECOND: START LOW AND GO SLOW
If you're experiencing social awkwardness, it can take time to re-emerge as the social butterfly you once were. In that spirit, be gentle with yourself. Take a look at these suggestions and try just one or two at a time. When they become comfortable, try another. Keep going until your awkwardness starts to fade and your social circle starts to grow.
THIRD: TRY A NEW SOCIAL STRATEGY OR TWO
Re-entry into the social world doesn’t have to require difficult or dramatic strategies. Doing the small stuff with ease? Try something bigger.
Bite off more than you can chew? Try something smaller. The list below includes small steps and bigger challenges that can boost your emergence and reduce awkwardness over time.
Call a friend for a chat.
When you find yourself at a loss for words, be a good listener and ask open-ended questions.
Go to a museum or other place where there are people. Smile at a stranger.
Volunteer for a cause you care about.
Take a class.
Go to the farmer’s market.
Make time for a hobby you’ve long wanted to try.
FOURTH: SUPPORT YOUR EFFORTS WITH MONTHLY MASSAGES
Regular massage can help you cope with stress, improve your body image, and make social interactions easier.
Tini Healing Spa has seen that regular massage sessions can help bring people out of their shells time and time again. Whether it's relaxation, improved body image, or regular social interaction in a safe, clean space, something powerful is at work in the massages–and science agrees.
A recent study found that only 10 minutes of massage can activate the body’s system for overcoming stress. This can go a long way toward making social interactions easier. For maximum stress-relieving benefits, and all the other wellness benefits massage has to offer, consider booking a series of monthly massages with a trained massage therapist at the comfort of your own home.
Ready to book? Unwind with Tini here!