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Survey finds increased social anxiety over in-person interactions

Posted at 9:49 AM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 12:49:39-04

A recent survey by the American Psychological Association finds about 49% of adults are feeling uncomfortable about returning to in-person interactions.

Even those who’ve received the vaccine reported feeling uneasy, according to the survey.

Chris Segrin, a behavioral scientist and head of the communications department at the University of Arizona, says it’s normal to feel anxious about the return to normal.

“Begin with some easy targets,” Segrin said. “So, when people get back to socializing, don’t go to a party with a group of strangers. Meet up with a friend or a family member who you’ve been separated from for a while, you know two or three of you in a small group. People who you already know well. Those will be more comfortable and easier interactions to build up to.”

As for social interactions, like if someone reaches in for a handshake, Segrin says it’s best to talk it out.

“Be open with them. Maybe when you’re meeting with someone to say, 'normally I would shake your hand,' and just talk it out,” Segrin said. “Be open with them and they’ll know exactly what you’re saying. Sort of to articulate, 'I’d like to do some sort of close form of greeting but right now we better just not do it.'”

Segrin says kids may also be suffering from social anxiety after a year of virtual school. He says it’s important to talk to them about being safe, but explain things are getting better. He also recommends easing them back into socializing with a few one-on-one play dates.