Social anxiety is defined as a long-lasting and overwhelming fear of social situations, but it’s so much more than that. The way in which social anxiety can control and dictate our lives is astonishing. Anyone who suffers from social anxiety I’m sure will agree with me and think back to a moment where they said no to going out with friends or didn’t go to work or school because they just couldn’t bring themselves to get out of bed that day. What people don’t realize is that social anxiety is a constant battle. Every day is a constant struggle and just because it’s manageable one day doesn’t mean it will be the next. It can truly be exhausting having to deal with social anxiety as well as everything else we face in life every day.
There are many different ways to cope with social anxiety. In my experience everyone is different. What works for me might not work for you but it’s always worth a try. Nothing bad can come out of finding new ways to help yourself or the people around you.
A self-care routine that works for you
One of the most important things I do to help with my social anxiety is to practice good self-care. Self-care is about committing to setting aside time every day for you to relax and work on your mental health. It’s always good to have something in your life that you’re able to start doing and truly relax. It’s a great opportunity to be able to reflect on the day you had. What I find the most effective is just watching a movie with a cup of tea.
Deep breaths and meditation
I also use other self-care methods like meditation. When my doctor told me about meditation I honestly didn’t believe him but I think it really does wonders for being able to relax and have full control of your breathing. After a while, you will really be able to clear your mind. I use this regularly in social situations. For me, being able to just take five deep breaths can make a big difference in preventing a panic attack or bad anxiety. With using these tools I find most day-to-day tasks much easier to complete.
Stepping outside your comfort zone
Something else that I believe makes a difference is forcing myself to break out of my comfort zone. Every small victory is a victory and we need to acknowledge that – like sending that text to an old friend who you haven’t spoken to in a while or going to the shop just to get out of the house. Every time you ignore that sick feeling in your stomach, or when your heart starts raising and you can’t sit still, is a victory.
Talk about it
Covid-19 has obviously been a big stressor for many of us who struggle with social anxiety. Now that we can hopefully move out of lockdown safely, we are all going to have to readjust to life. Some things will go back to the way they were but others will be changed forever. I think advice for all of us is to just ease back into it, one small step at a time. Your friends and family will understand if it takes you a while to be able to go to social events or to readjust to seeing people regularly again. It’s ok to take your time and there is no rush.
Making time for self-care
Try to have a self-care plan written down on your phone or calendar. Set aside time to be able to relax and be able to do the things you want to do. Instead of overthinking a situation, approach it from a different perspective. Allow yourself some time to be afraid or anxious because it’s all perfectly normal. Make sure to reward yourself when you have been able to go out of your comfort zone and if you’re not able to do something, communicate with the people around you. It’s always OK to ask for help because chances are when you ask for help from somebody, they’ve been trying to ask you for help too.
We need to come together as a society and be able to talk about these issues freely and without judgment behind them. For the first time in our lives, we are all in the same situation. Most people are nervous about things returning to normal. It doesn’t matter who is more anxious or more worried. If we work together to ease back into things and be conscious of others in this time, then we will be able to hopefully return to normal and overcome everything this pandemic has thrown at us.