tackle social anxiety

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Six Ways to Tackle Severe Social Anxiety

I am not a huge fan of walking into large groups of people and being expected to be 100% sociable and bubbly. I am awkward. I embrace my awkwardness. But no matter how happy I am to be my awkward, nerdy self, social situations bring up ridiculous amounts of anxiety for me.
 
My stomach will be in knots for days as I mentally prepare for a planned social situation. It’s even worse if I know that there will be people I don’t know, or god forbid, had no time to plan for the situation to begin with.
 
There have been many times in the past where I’ve used unhealthy coping mechanisms to get myself through my social anxiety at various gatherings – (one too many adult beverages, maybe?). Working to find healthier ways of coping with my social anxiety has been quite a process for me, and it’s still a work in progress.
 
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with severe social anxiety. So, how do we work to tackle it and be able to enjoy going out in public for gatherings? These six things have helped me a lot over the last year or so, even through the added anxiety of a deadly pandemic.
 
  1. Set clear boundaries. This could be boundaries for yourself, or with other people. Don’t be afraid to give yourself the grace you need, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries with other people. Not comfortable with hugs? Set that boundary. Don’t worry about their feelings – set your boundaries and stand by them.
  2. Focus on comfort. Don’t panic about what you’re going to wear, or if you look “socially acceptable.” Wearing something that you think fits what is “fashionable,” but that makes you itch and want to crawl out of your skin, isn’t worth it. Even if it’s a themed costume party – find something that you are comfortable in, and rock it.
  3. Focus on your breath. This is a simple one, really, and a tried-and-true trick. If you’re getting overwhelmed, just focus on taking some deep breaths, only thinking about the air coming in and going out of your body.
  4. Focus on one person at a time. Don’t try to have multiple conversations going at once or feel like you have to jump into the crowd of people having a massive discussion. Find one person you’re comfortable talking to, and focus on having a conversation with them, to start.
  5. Go into social situations with a buddy, when possible. Depending on the gathering, find a friend or family member who can accompany you, someone who will be a guaranteed friendly face to have in the crowd.
  6. Be ok with leaving early. If you’re completely overwhelmed and none of the other tips are working for you, it’s ok to leave early. Don’t feel pressured to stay until a “socially acceptable” time. Your mental health is important, and if you need to leave early, go for it!
 
Use these six tips whenever you start to feel that social anxiety creeping up. You’ll be amazed how in control you feel. And yes, the anxiety may still creep up. But you’ll have some healthy tools in your arsenal to help you tackle that anxiety before it grows too much.
 
I would love to know how you’re tackling your social anxiety – shoot me a message to let me know what your steps are, or, when you’re comfortable with it, come join and share with us in our awesome community of mamas finding their way back to solid ground. We’d love to have you join us.

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Sarah Bowser

I’m an unconventional self-esteem coach helping weird, nerdy moms organize their minds and find their core self to rediscover their true identity, cultivate self-love, and create a sense of belonging.

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I’m an unconventional self-esteem coach helping weird, nerdy moms organize their minds and find their core self to rediscover their true identity, cultivate self-love, and create a sense of belonging.

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