social anxiety | Terezia Farkas | Beliefnet | depression help

 

It’s the Christmas season, and party invites are flying through the air. But you have social anxiety. Do you accept the invites or, do you give some convenient excuse not to attend?

Avoiding the crowd is okay.

In some cases, it might be better to avoid the large social crowd. Especially if anxiety about the event is much bigger than anything positive you’d get out of it. Instead of making up some excuse, try telling the host the real reason you don’t want to attend. While social anxiety may be embarrassing to you, the issue itself is relatable to many people. You’ll probably find a sympathetic ear. Tell the person to keep it confidential, unless of course you’re okay sharing.

Get your social anxiety tool kit ready.

However, there are some social events you can’t easily get out of. Like the family get together. For these, you need to have some coping skills in your mental health tool kit. Let’s take a quick look at some things you can do.

Breath regularly.

Take regular deep breaths. Anxiety gets the body ready for defence and escape. Your breathing gets short. Taking long, deep breaths opens up airways and gets more oxygen your mind. More oxygen means you don’t feel faint or light-headed. Also, giving regular amounts of oxygen to your muscles won’t tighten them up and make you stiff.

Have a support buddy ready in case you emotionally collapse.

Have someone at the party who knows about your social anxiety and is ready to lend a helping hand. The person doesn’t have to hover about you. But, the person should be ready to take you to a safe space to calm you down, or to drive you home if necessary. Have a key word or phrase agreed upon ahead of time, so that if you’re at your limit, you can just say that word or phrase to your friend and he/she will know you need help.

Keep contact limited to a few people at a time. 

Don’t try mingling with the entire crowd. Pick a few people you feel comfortable with. Talk individually to the person, or if the person is in a crowd, wait for the crowd to get small. As for the rest of the folks there, a friendly nod or smile can go a long way in non verbal communication. Don’t hang out in the corner, because you’ll only attract unwanted attention. Hang at the edge of the crowd, but always with someone near you.

Don’t let anyone bully you.

If you hear your name mentioned in conversation, don’t assume it’s something bad. If it is mean or hurtful though, get in touch with your support buddy and let that person know how you feel. Sometimes the support buddy can step in and be your advocate. Otherwise, you need to be your own advocate. Stand up for yourself. Don’t let anyone bully you. Tell the person how you feel. It doesn’t matter if you get laughed at or mocked, because that bad behaviour means the person has no other way to hurt you. Knowing that gives you enormous power and strength of character, and shows you’re the better person.

Take time out if it gets too much.

Take a bathroom break. Or, go outside for a smoke or breath of fresh air. If the anxiety becomes too much, you need to go somewhere you feel safe to collect your thoughts and calm down. Drink some water, because anxiety dehydrates the body. Wiggle your toes, make a fist and then clench and unclench your hands. These things get blood moving again to your outer body parts. Check your breathing to make sure you are taking long, deep breaths. Only when you feel good enough do you go back to the group. If you can’t manage to calm down, then simply say good-bye to your host and leave.

Congratulate yourself.

Finally, don’t forget to congratulate yourself. It doesn’t matter how long you were at the event, or how many people you interacted with. What matters is that you went in the first place. You managed your social anxiety. Whoot-whoot! Pat yourself on the back.

Remember, social anxiety has a lot to do with what you believe about yourself. One of the toughest things to do is believe you can get along well with other people. You will tell yourself that all of these suggestions are hard to do, maybe someone else could do it, or it takes too much effort. That is negative self-talk. You need to believe in yourself. Believe you are emotionally strong. Because the truth is, you are a strong person.

Find me on twitter @tereziafarkas

 

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