Being social is hard with anxiety. It created paranoia and stress. Learn these easy tips on not letting anxiety stop you being social!
Today we have a guest post by the lovely Caroline. I’ve enjoyed reading this and I hope you do too!
There’s no worse feeling than stopping yourself from socialising and growing in life due to fear. Social anxiety is prominent in today’s society, and it’s no wonder since the media puts so much pressure on how successful people look, act and live their lives. Teenagers and young adults are extremely vulnerable to this media coverage, as they’ve grown up in the digital age, making it nearly impossible to avoid.
For people who are susceptible to social anxiety, the world can seem like a scary place. Going to interviews, meetings, dates or social gatherings can seem as daunting as jumping out of a plane. The feelings of anxiety we experience are related to our ideas and concepts created in our minds about social conditions and interactions.
Simply knowing these facts isn’t always enough to change them since we already know we have a problem and can’t seem to control the emotional responses we have to certain situations.
Below are some effective techniques you can use to start tackling your feelings of social anxiety.
Our imaginations are truly incredible; we can conjure up any images, sounds and mental movies we wish in an instant simply by thinking about them. Everything that isn’t a natural element of the earth that’s in front of you right now began as an idea in someone’s imagination. We can use this creativity tool to help us overcome our social fears.
Through practising visualising ourselves having a great time in situations we’d normally be anxious in, we can take away the worries and nerves we’d have about them. In initial visualisation sessions, you may feel yourself becoming anxious simply because you’re programmed to do so through repetition through real-life experiences. However, over time and even after a few sessions, you’ll find those feelings start to dissolve.
It’s no secret a lot of humans hold pessimistic views on how future situations might pan out.
To use this method, sit or lie down in an environment where you won’t be disturbed. Gently close your eyes and breathe deep, nourishing breaths from the diaphragm. Then begin to visualise yourself having an amazing time in the social situation that usually causes you discomfort. For this technique to have maximum impact on your life, practice it as often as you can, at least once per day for 10 to 20 minutes.
Try Anxiety Scoring
It’s no secret a lot of humans hold pessimistic views on how future situations might pan out. For people who suffer from social anxiety, they’ll almost always predict a scenario will cause them panic before they enter it. The act of thinking this way typically results in the sufferer manifesting the exact feelings they thought they would since they’ve conditioned themselves to respond a certain way when circumstances arise.
However, this is usually done on complete autopilot, either through internal dialogue or complaining to another person. If you repurpose the idea and use predictions consciously, the outcome is quite different. This method works via a scoring system from zero to 10, zero being the lowest amount of anxiety, and 10 being the worst possible.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down some social situations you’ll soon encounter. Write down the common scenarios that will take place in these situations and note a score next to each using the anxiety scoring system. Here’s an example: Entering a conversation at a bar where there are four people in total but you only know one of them as a friend. On paper, you could have written:
- Make eye contact with friend and strangers: 5
- Walk over to friend: 6
- Greet friend and meet strangers for the first time: 8
- Have a conversation with strangers: 9
You’ll find that consciously predicting scores such as the above will lessen the severity of the situation when you’re in it.
In this day and age, a lot of socialising is done via the internet. With sites such as Facebook and Twitter thriving by creating a real-life feeling of interaction and relationships, it’s important we feel comfortable and safe while using these platforms. You can practice your social skills through Facebook, as you can do most things that are possible in real-life instances on the platform now.
It’s important you feel as safe as possible when practising these skills online.
It’s a little less daunting when you’re in the comfort of your own home interacting with other people in social situations. You can take your time to engage with others without the pressure of real-life interactions. It’s important you feel as safe as possible when practising these skills online, so using a privacy service makes things that much more comfortable and enjoyable, setting your anxiety levels at a minimum.
Reprogram Your Responses
Since around 40 percent of our day-to-day activity is repeated daily, it’s very easy to form programmed responses that take over our actions and behaviour. These responses are often referred to as habits, and habits can be both positive and negative. If you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about social situations that induce a sense of fear and anxiety in you, and you’ve been acting those out in public, then the likelihood is that you’ve programmed a negative habitual response into your brain’s wiring for particular circumstances.
Your affirmations should be set as though you’ve already achieved the mindset you wish to acquire in the present tense, such as, “I am so grateful now that I find it easy to talk to strangers about anything.”
To create sustainable change, you need to reprogram your responses into positive ones that benefit you and your growth out of experiencing social anxiety. This can be achieved through verbal, internal and written affirmations since these are what were used unconsciously to put you in the mind frame you’re currently in.
Whenever a situation arises where you aren’t comfortable, your mind goes astray with negative thoughts, feelings and emotions you can’t control. An effective method for counterbalancing this activity is to reprogram those responses through thinking in the opposite way.
You have to be proactive with this method, as it isn’t that successful if practised at the time when anxiety takes over. State your affirmations through writing, speaking and thinking them as often as you can, especially when first waking in the morning and before going to bed at night.
Your affirmations should be set as though you’ve already achieved the mindset you wish to acquire in the present tense, such as, “I am so grateful now that I find it easy to talk to strangers about anything.” It might take a few months for the reprogramming to take effect, but as long as you keep up the practice, it will change how you respond in social situations.
Have any cool tips on how to overcome social anxiety? Leave us a comment in the comments section below.
Author bio: Caroline is a self-improvement enthusiast who enjoys helping others overcome their social boundaries. She also loves reading up on the latest methods and techniques that assist people with creating a better life for themselves.