If you're feeling anxious about Valentine's Day this year, these tips could really help 3 months ago

If you're feeling anxious about Valentine's Day this year, these tips could really help

Brought to you by IACP 

If you're feeling anxious about Valentine's Day, these tips could really help...

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After two years of cancelled plans and missed milestones, many of us are looking forward to celebrating this year's Valentine's Day in full.

But for some, this holiday can be a source of anxiety, particularly if you're finding the return to social activities challenging.

With that in mind, we're taking a look at the many reasons why you or someone you love might be finding this year's Valentine's Day difficult, and some steps you can take to ease your anxiety.

And if you need someone to talk to, the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) have a really helpful online directory of therapists to help you get in touch with an accredited therapist today.

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The IACP have also launched a new podcast, Essential Conversations, a series that features different experts and inspirational guests, with the aim of helping us to better understand mental health, wellness, and therapy. You can listen HERE.

Why am I feeling anxious about Valentine's Day?

Once again, we can look forward to attending events in person; meeting up with friends, going for drink or a meal, going to the cinema or to the theatre attending a sports event, even planning a holiday away - all social events that have been denied to us for the last 20 months.

While most of us welcome and are excited that we can plan social activities again. However for others, who feel uncertain about their safety, experiencing a level of anxiety about venturing out to socialise. These feelings are very normal to have under the circumstances and many people who have never experienced social anxiety prior to the pandemic are now very aware of feeling anxious and wondering why they feel this way.

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Our world for the last 2 years has felt very unsafe, full of uncertainty and particularly for the many people who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19 it makes sense that we have to process this new environment and to risk assess for ourselves. Think of the tortoise who feels very safe in their shells, but when they want to move they peep out and risk assess how safe their environment is - is there danger? They move slowly, which for some us is the way we need to adapt also, going at our own pace, not comparing ourselves to others who appear to have no difficulty socialising.

Anxiety is a normal human feeling that we all experience to a greater or lesser degree before important life events; exams, job interviews, wedding day, driving tests and so on.

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Social anxiety can impact to a level that we have difficulty going outside, preventing us even from going to work. There are many who are currently feeling very anxious that we will have to return in person to the office or workplace, avoiding any contact with others.

These feelings maybe new for some people but if you are someone who has been socially anxious for a long time, fearful that they will embarrass themselves, say the wrong thing or not know what to say, so concerned what will others think of them, feeling so nervous that it appears to be easier to avoid the situation and isolate themselves.

What can I do?

The Covid-19 restrictions for many socially anxious people has been a relief; no pressure to go out, even avoid shopping due to online or “Click & Collect”. They are now having to navigate this more open environment they are filled with anxiety to an extreme level.

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When our social anxiety controls our lives to this extent, a consultation with your GP is necessary as these prolonged feelings may lead to depression.

There are ways you can help yourself if you are feeling anxious about re-engaging with this freer environment:

  • Remind yourself that these anxious feelings are normal
  • Remind yourself that many others are feeling the same way
  • Talk to a good friend about your feelings
  • There is no shame in feeling this way it does not mean you are weak
  • The more we share our feelings may help others also
  • Learn relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises
  • Join a meditation group.
  • Stop judging yourself, remind yourself how well you have coped
  • Try exercising in the fresh air, invite a friend along with you.

It is important to set your own boundaries, after 20 months of social distancing our social skills may be slightly rusty - you have a right to your own autonomy whether you wish to resume shaking hands or not. Pace your own return to this freer environment.

We are social beings, we are all a mix of extravert and introvert personalities, it is important to know when to connect and when to take time to reflect. Be brave trust your own wisdom.

Mark Valentine’s Day this year with a gift of self-love and compassion towards yourself and others.

Need someone to talk to? Find an accredited therapist today at iacp.ie.

Brought to you by IACP