6 ways to overcome social anxiety and ease back into it

"Breathe" neon lettering on ivy

FOMO used to be a real thing, and now many of us are dealing with FOGO (fear of going out). Does almost everything you do feel awkward right now? If so, welcome, many of us are feeling it too. Even spending time with best friends and close family feels off sometimes. After spending an entire year missing our loved ones, we imagined the reunion to feel all so sweet, so there may be some guilt related to our desire to ditch and crawl back into the comfort of home. After a year of isolation, stress-free hanging-out should feel heavenly, but many of us are now gripped by a unique type of social anxiety. 

Let’s break it down: there’s the anticipation of socializing, there’s the actual socializing, and then there’s the come-down from the socializing. Each of us may have a different social bandwidth than we did before. Maybe the group dinners that we lived for pre-pandemic are now the source of stress. And maybe when we do go out and about, we need a lot (like, a lot) more decompression and recovery time afterward.

The Apollo Neuro team put together a list of our favorite tools and tricks we’re using along with the Apollo device’s Social and Open mode to work through social anxiety in the before, during, and after phases.

Apollo’s Social and Open mode is like a secret power when it comes to keeping your energy up and your creativity flowing — it’s that extra boost to help you relax into a more present you. Apollo Neuro co-founders, Dr. Dave and Kathryn, love Social and Open for networking or professional settings where they want to bring their A game — it eases nerves without chilling you out too much. It’s like a cup of coffee without the jitters, or a glass of champagne without the hangover. 

Note, none of these brands are paying for this content; these are just recommendations from our diverse community. We all gravitate towards different solutions, so we suggest perusing a few free options first and see what works for you!

1. Don't ditch your routine

Many of us slowed down and adopted small routines over the pandemic that kept us going. A favorite ritual? That morning cup of joe. Kion makes the absolute cleanest blend out there. We love their Whole Bean Clean Coffee, but we keep their Decaf Clean Coffee blend close-by when we want the flavor without the jitters (and still tastes like the real thing!).

2. Wind up and wind down with music.

Music is an incredibly powerful tool to help you get in whatever mood you’re after. It doesn’t have to be classical music or smooth jazz. Use music to pump you up before, or chill you out after. Amy, VP of marketing at Apollo, is all about her Spotify playlists - “I started building one years ago when I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve been adding my favorite songs to play for friends and family ever since. The playlist instantly puts me in that comfortable, friendly mood when I play it before stressful social settings.” For chilling out after socializing, Golden Hour Calm Mix by Kygo is worth bookmarking.  

3. Breath work, the tool you always have with you.

We know, we know, you’ve seen the advice “just breathe” before. And it can feel a bit cringey. But breathing exercises are the back pocket trick that require absolutely nothing and you have with you no matter what. Our favs? Alternate nostril breathing or box breathing. We recently came across Inward Breathwork and we’re loving it  — they have fantastic breath work classes for stress, anxiety, sleep, energy, and more. 

4. A shared focus to avoid small talk on loop.

Having friends over? Our not-so-secret weapon is games. Taking the focus off of small talk is the key to feeling present, and we love games for this very reason. Whether it’s a board game night or a movie watch party, we’re there for it. Our favorites are Codenames, Settlers of Catan, Taboo, and Scattergories

5. Avoid overindulging.

If you’re looking for a special something to sip, but want to avoid booze, try Curious Elixirs. They’re infused with adaptogens to help you unwind in the face of socializing. Whether you’re off the booze entirely, or just looking for an alternative, look no further. There’s a few different types to try, and they’re perfectly herby and sophisticated — it’s definitely not dressed up soda.  

6. Prioritize recovery.

You know when you come home from an exhausting event, tunnel vision on laying down in bed, and you just lay there frustrated and still exhausted? Some of our favorite ways to take it down multiple notches and get ready for sleep are: Apollo on Relax and Unwind, light stretching, Artis CBD, herbal tea, and relaxing music. New environments = different food and germs than you’re used to. To stay healthy and feeling good, we absolutely love Just Thrive probiotics with an immune and gut boost. Socializing can be tiring, so give your body the proper recovery and support it needs, and that includes pulling out all the stops for a grade-A slumber.