I’m going to start this post by saying I am so sorry for not posting in such a long time. I have had a busy few months and spent a lot of time focusing on the things that make me feel good. I’ve been surrounding myself with family and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Hopefully, the things I have done and learnt in this time away from blogging will help you, especially when dealing with social anxiety!
Social anxiety is horrible, awful. Any kind of anxiety is dreadful but when you struggle to leave the house, answer the phone or say hi to a friend, its awful. Dealing with social anxiety is hard. It’s all about enduring the anxious feeling until it gradually becomes less and less. Who would want to put themselves in that situation? No one, but sadly it is the only way to minimise that anxious feeling.
See I have battled social anxiety for a while now. I was never particularly someone who cared or worried about things but now I do. I struggle to answer the phone. There are people who used to be a part of my life that I worry and dread passing in the street because my anxiety flares up.
For a month now I have been working at my new job, a little vintage and retro clothing shop in my town. It’s perfect for me but I have to battle anxiety while applying, when going to the interview and walking up to the shop. If you had asked me to go into town a few months ago I would have become hysterical with anxiety. However, by walking to work 4 days a week that anxious feeling has slowly become less and less. Yes I still have to push myself everyday but its easier now. I love my job, its perfect for me.
However, this week when I was walking home from work I passed someone I used to know well. As soon as I realised I froze and panicked. I needed to go down that street but I couldn’t think of anything worse. I walked and walked until I passed them and went into the shop I wanted. It should have been easy and I shouldn’t have even worried but there I was hiding in a shop shaking and on the brink of tears. I had become terribly anxious but I couldn’t help but be proud of myself. I had done it.
That anxious feeling is horrible. It makes you shake and makes your head spin but it does get easier. Dealing with social anxiety is hard but here are some steps you can take.
Narrow down what it is that makes you anxious. Maybe its a place, people or even a situation. For example, I have a fear of the train station in our town. I really struggle with is because of the anxious feeling I associate with that place. I broke down what it is exactly that made me anxious. I drew a mind map with the word train in the middle and drew lines off to present which little parts built up the whole anxious picture. I came away with the sounds of the trains, the journey and the station itself. If you do this for your anxious place or situation you will find out what it is exactly that causes your social anxiety. Therefore, ultimately finding out what you need to do to deal with social anxiety.
So, you have broken down the causes of your anxiety into steps. The next thing to do is to combat each of them steps one by one. This is the hardest part. Nobody wants to purposely put themselves in an anxious situation, its horrible. However, I can promise you it will feel a lot easier once you have. I promise.
So you’ve got your step, we’ll use mine as an example. For my anxious train situation I decided to combat my worry of the station itself. Now I’m not saying you have to stride straight into your anxious place, it’s all about baby steps. I started by walking past the station. I had a distraction which was my music. Headphones in and go! Distractions are a brilliant way to alter your focus from the situation to something you find positive. At first I almost ran, my head was spinning and I was shaking. The next time I didn’t shake as much and I didn’t walk as fast. The anxious feeling still flares up but its less than half of what it was.
After the first time I had tackled my social anxiety I could have cried with happiness. I couldn’t believe I had actually done it. So don’t forget, baby steps and distractions.
You have your steps and you have your distractions, what’s next? Nothing but repetition. Repeat all of them steps you have broken down until your anxiety is hardly noticeable. It might help to draw out a chart. You could have a row for all your little steps and when you’ve been in that anxious situation draw a smile or a tick in the box.
This isn’t an easy process, its hard. You will probably feel like shit some days and brilliant the next. Just remember this you don’t have to tackle your anxiety on the bad days. If you have a day where you really can’t get out of bed then don’t beat yourself up. If you have a day of determination go for it! The main point is to take your time. Everybody is different.
I really hope this post will when you when dealing with social anxiety. If you have any questions on my experience using this technique, you can message me or email me. I will include links to all my social media below. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!