Restrictions are continuing to ease, but unfortunately social anxiety isn't.
A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to join Brianna, a psychologist and mental health advocate from @mycolourfulmind, in talking about social anxiety. In our live Instagram video we unpacked tips and tricks on how to manage social anxiety as we re-enter the world post-lockdown.
Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that causes fear in social settings. People with this disorder have trouble talking to others, meeting new people, and attending social gatherings. The fear of being judged or scrutinised by others are common. Social anxiety is persistent and debilitating, it affects relationships, work life, or general day-to-day activities.
For the past few months we have been told not to socialise in person, and to stay home. Of course this was necessary in the current climate, however, that hasn't made it for those who struggle with mental health. Although there would have been a general relief at the idea of not having to leave the house, or attend those gatherings that raise anxiety levels, or even do shopping (online shopping is win, right?); there was always that lurching feeling knowing that inevitably, you would need to integrate back into society. This blog is NOT a diagnosis for social anxiety. The aim of this blog is to provide general tips that everyone can use.
Here are some tips for managing social anxiety:
Exposure: Although the temptation is to skip events, believe it or not, going to the event will actually benefit you (not what you want to hear, I know). I'm not saying you go and rush into EVERY activity you can, it's okay to say no, too! Start small, don't choose an overwhelming activity that will cause you to want to avoid situations even more. Exposure therapy usually is done in the context of working with a therapist. This helps you to start small, monitor how you feel, and work on changing thought patterns in the process.
Reward: Give yourself a treat after a challenge. Honestly, sometimes we need incentives to get through, and hey you deserve it, look at you being brave! One of my favourite things to do before leaving for a social event is to create a comfy environment at home, e.g., kettle ready to go when I get home for tea, my favourite pjs laid out, and some choccy and Netflix ready.
Boundaries: Set time limits on your events. This means you are still challenging yourself, but in a safe context. Who knows, you might love it and want to stay longer!
Mindfulness: Say you are walking down town, the temptation is definitely to keep your eye on the ground and not make eye contact. A small challenge you can do is every five seconds, look up, and name three things you can see. This is a great way to practice mindfulness as you become more aware of your surroundings.
Seek support: Dealing with social anxiety means addressing the "why" behind it. Seeking therapy can help you change your thoughts patterns, and receive adequate support in your journey.
Please note: This blog is NOT a diagnosis for social anxiety. This is merely a resource to support you with integrating back into society after lockdown. If you are concerned about your mental health, book into your GP for further support and advice.
Needing extra support? Jessikah Huard Counselling has appointments open. Book now.