Okay, anyone that knows me knows that I'm not the most social person. There are two kinds of people.  Those that need to be social and around people a lot of the time and those that can take or leave being very social.

Middle aged doctor woman scared in shock with a surprise face, afraid and excited with fear expression
Getty Images, AaronAmat

It's not that I don't like people, it's just when it comes to social interaction, I can take it or leave it.  I guess the main benefit of my reluctance to socialize a lot is that the past year hasn't been that difficult for me.

Well, the vaccines are rolling out at a pretty good clip and restrictions are rolling back and a lot of Minnesotans are itching to get out and socialize again.

Until the pandemic hit, Tammy Rustad was a fight attendant who went from flying around the world to sitting on her couch. “I could work up to four flights a day that could be literally coming into contact with 400 people,” said Rustad. “I havent been on a trip since last February.”

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Rustad like a lot of others are feeling a bit apprehensive about re-entering society.  “I haven’t been in a restaurant for over a year. I haven’t been to the salon in over a year,” said Rustad. “There obviously is anxiety going forward as to what it’s going to be when I get back out there.”

According to psychologist, Dr Andrea Hutchinson, she is expecting to be seeing more clients in the near future as things head back toward some kind of normal. “We just lose that social muscle,” Hutchinson said. “I think we all had that awkwardness at the beginning of Zoom. Now we’ve lost the skills on the other handoff how do we interact in real life.”

Mayo Clinic's Dr Craig Sawchuk says the only way to fight anxiety is to face it.  “Excitement and anxiety can coexist. It’s actually going to take a bit for many of us to rebuild that social stamina,” he said. “One of the best treatments for this are social connections. It’s only through experience that we can start to push on those boundaries of the comfort zone again.”

He also advises that you kind of ease into the social life you had before the pandemic.  Start out small and build from there. “Each time you do that the anxiety is going to get smaller,” Hutchinson said.



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