A regular health and lifestyle column from Corinne Yeadon, of the Being Better private therapy practice based in Newmarket Street, Skipton

NUMEROUS people I am in contact with both professionally and personally have reported feeling fretful about venturing out and seeing folk.

In some respects there is more trepidation now than at the outset of lockdown.

At the beginning options were limited due to strict restrictions, for many, being “allowed” to do more does not necessarily mean it feels safe to do so. Add into the mix an abnormally extended period of social restrictions, it is no wonder anxiety is rife and people are wary.

The feelings associated with going out into the big wide world and being amongst all who sail in her are akin to those of people who experience social anxiety.

I can certainly identify with feelings of social awkwardness when receiving socially distanced garden visitors.

Not only did my ability to engage in social chit chat appear to evade me, my world had shrunk to such a degree, I struggled to come up with things to talk about.

Fortunately, by my third visitor, a bit like pancake making, I had practiced and achieved some modicum of acceptable social interaction.

The impact of altered physical appearance is not to be minimised and plays its part in matters of self confidence

There is much merriment about lockdown weight gain or hair. However, people have hairstyles, nails done, follow diets and fitness regimes to feel better about themselves.

Dental appointments have been and continue to be in short supply resulting in radical tooth extractions or no treatment at all. In this case the wearing of masks can be a saviour when feeling self conscious.

Irrespective of views about risk and staying safe from the virus, there are steps that can help social anxiety:

• Wear a mask – this can feel like protection/armour

• Carry a bottle of water – in case of dry mouth, also something to hold

• Carry hand sanitiser – for use and something to hold

• Be prepared with stock questions and conversation topics

• Make an early exit plan to use if needed.

Everyone is finding their feet, go at your own pace.