4 Necessary Tips for Social Anxiety
Hey guys, today we are going to talk about.... anxiety!
And, for those of you who struggle with social anxiety, you need to find ways to cope before you go to college.
I feel like so many people are dealing with it and I love talking about it because it is SO important to make others know they are not alone if they are struggling. Any my friends that know me know that I am VERY open about my anxiety. I talk about it all the time, because for me, if it's out there, then I don't have to act like it isn't a problem for me. When it's out there, I can be anxious and they already know and expect that. It makes me feel more free to be completely myself [This is a tip as well].
So, I know there are many different types of anxieties, and I definitely want to talk about them all. For me, my biggest struggle is with social anxiety. I think about what I am going to say before I speak, new social situations make me nervous, and group hangouts are hard for me.
I've struggled with this for awhile, and while I still struggle, I definitely have overcome a lot of my anxieties and have some advice for those who are REALLY having a hard time. Especially, during college and making all those new friends, social anxiety can be ANOTHER hard thing.
I know this is obvious. I KNOW! But I have to say it. So, first of all, you are NOT weak if you struggle. Guys, I know people who aren't struggling with disorders and go to therapy because they like to have someone to talk to. I even know people who go just for help with stress and school! For someone who didn't want to go to therapy AT all in the beginning, it's not just someone listening to you. It CAN be if that's what you want, but I need days to be listened to, and other days I want to work on skills. Also, therapy is a relationship of a sort, so try out different therapists until you find one that you mesh with.
So this doesn't relate to everyone (and severity of social/ normal anxiety), and I put this after therapy because that should always be the first step. Go to therapy, let your feelings out, gain some skills, and see if that's enough. For me, I always have been very self-aware, and so therapy helped me with skills, but I felt everything so deeply and my anxiety and depression were so rough that I needed meds. I'll speak more on this in my health/wellness section soon, but for medication, you need to give it TIME (1-2 months) to settle in your body, and try out many types until you find one that works with your body.
3. Put Yourself in Uncomfortable Positions
This is the BEST and MOST DIFFICULT tip I will ever give to anyone with social anxiety. God, is it hard but so necessary. So, sophomore year I was crippled by anxiety. It ran my life, I stayed in my anxious bubble, constantly slept, and became physically ill from anxiety. I would be with my friends and we would talk to people I didn't know well, and I literally couldn't speak. I'd turn red, my heart would race, and my anxiety would be like *ALERT ALERT GET OUT OF HERE.* Fight or flight.
So, what did I do? I MADE myself talk to one person each day. The person I sat by in class, someone in the hall, or one of my friend's friends. I started off with a compliment to a person (quick & easy), complaining about a class, talking about what we were doing in the class, or saying something generic. These weren't too bad. But real connection is what I CRAVED. I began building relationships with those people, and after a small comment each day, which became a couple sentences, and finally a conversation, I saw myself become more comfortable and confident. I still struggle with social anxiety, but doing this probably improved in 75%. Today, I am the friend that says things she TOTALLY shouldn't and says weird things to people and don't care.
PLEASE READ: My therapist told me that with anxiety, we tend to go up the anxiety hill and then use planning in our heads or chickening out to go back down the hill. PROBLEM. You are telling yourself you CAN'T go over the hill. YOU ARE FURTHERING YOUR ANXIETY. Start practicing going over the hill, and anxiety will begin to fade.
4. Meditation/Breathing Techniques
So important. Practice 10 minutes each morning and build these muscles (they are NOT physical), and practice objectivity. When I say objectivity, I mean that when you are meditating and feel anxious, angry, etc, just watch the emotions. You are not those emotions. Remember that.
Pranayama is so important. Learn breathing techniques when you are panicking to bring you back to your central. For example, I LOVE ocean breathing. Hard to explain, but pretty much you breathe up and down continuously like a wave.
Thank you guys for reading these tips, and know that many others experience anxiety as well (HINT: ME), and it only controls you as long as you don't treat it and take care of it. If you are feeling weak, you lift weights, and when you feel anxiety, you build your I GOT THIS muscles as you do those 4 tips above.