For those based in the United States, the end of the pandemic feels closer than ever before. Throughout this whole nightmare, we all experienced grief in complete social isolation. However, as more people get vaccinated, society is finally starting to get back into the groove of things, including hanging out with friends and family in public settings.
There is obviously an initial excitement and buzz around going out to eat with friends or watching a movie in a real movie theater. However, after being in social isolation for so long, will interacting in person be the same? Will there be judgment? Will people still like us?
This is exactly the stress and anxiety that Gen Z is feeling right now, and it’s called social anxiety.
What is Social Anxiety?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, social anxiety is a mental health condition that is the “intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others”. This affects a broad variety of people, but Gen Z in particular– 70% of teens across all diverse backgrounds state anxiety and depression are both crucial problems among those in their generation, which is much higher than previous generations.
This illness has been affecting individuals for centuries, but as awareness grew around mental health due to nonprofits and campaigns, like Mental Health Awareness Month in May, those dealing with this issue have finally been able to seek help.
But, unfortunately, this pandemic and vaccinations could be a potentially large trigger for this extreme fear of socializing.
Pandemic & Vaccinations
Though social anxiety has been around for a long time, the pandemic has directly contributed to many people developing this illness. Although put in place for safety, social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders deeply impacted mental health. People began developing a fear around others, internally questioning if the person next to them had COVID-19.
Not only did the pandemic create new strains of anxiety surrounding finances, health and safety, and other concerns, but it also made it easy for people to live comfortably without others. It allowed people living with social anxiety to continue along the same path and relieved their tensions for a short while.
However, vaccinations are here, and society is ready to start back up again. So, how are people coping with this?
Social Media Social Anxiety
Many Gen Zers have taken to Tik Tok and Twitter to express their concerns about social anxiety through humor. These memes have become a primary coping method to relieve tensions and laugh about the horror of having to meet new people.
How to Combat Social Anxiety
So, how can Gen Zers adapt besides through using humor?
Check out these Gen Z nonprofits and individuals doing incredible work in the mental health space! They have great tips and advice on how to reduce social anxiety, and many other mental illnesses.
Social anxiety is not something that can magically go away as soon as society starts up again, just as mental health does not magically go away. This Mental Health Awareness Month, focus on your own mental health. Check-in on friends and help spread awareness. It’ll take time, energy, and a lot of effort, but Gen Z can recuperate and adapt to this new era.
JUV Consulting is a Gen Z collective that works with companies to create purpose-driven and authentic marketing campaigns that engage young audiences. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn how to reach Gen Z, or sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Screenshot, to get Gen Z insights straight to your inbox.
Srilekha Cherukuvada is a 17-year-old Content Creator at JUV Consulting, and a planning-obsessed walrus-loving Netflix junkie. Based in Austin, Texas, she enjoys writing, reading, food, and is a huge coffee addict. Catch up with Srilekha on Instagram, @srileeka, or check out her portfolio at http://simplysrilekha.com.