The Social Anxiety Struggle
Today I’m going to be writing about the social anxiety struggle that I’ve been going through recently. So, this probably won’t be as fun of a post.... but I really wanted to take some time to write out my thoughts.
To start, I’ve had social anxiety- or really general anxiety- for around four years now. It all started when I was having some problems with people who I had considered friends at the time. Also starting at a new school after nine years at the last one, and just generally finding myself becoming a lot more aware of my own role in social situations were big anxiety triggering factors. I found that my anxiety really stemmed from a lot of different things but one of the largest triggers for my anxiety that has remained is social situations.
As I mentioned, I’m not new to the whole anxiety circus. I’ve been through daily panic attacks, a little bit of therapy, and a lot of my own pondering about why I have it. It took a while to stop the bad panic attacks and to find ways to minimize those, but my social anxiety is still very much remaining. You could almost call it the aftermath of my really bad phase of anxiety, and an aftermath that just doesn't really want to go away. So, my general anxiety has really turned into social anxiety, and has been QUITE the struggle.
The reason I wanted to write this post was that today, after a few months of not having a panic attack and really just feeling much more socially confident, I had a struggle with my social anxiety. I know that this situation might not seem like a lot to some of you guys, but for me, it was something that just really triggered my anxiety (so please be open minded). I was shopping at a supermarket near my house and I went into the cosmetic section (as I am a self-confessed beauty junkie and I was looking for a birthday gift for my best friend). I was pretty surprised to see that the beauty section was very closed in and was a square of rows that only had one small entrance to get in. I normally LOVE shopping for makeup and beauty, and honestly, it’s been one of the things that really distracts me from feeling anxious. As soon as I walked in I started to feel very claustrophobic and I just felt very uncomfortable in there. When I picked up my friend’s gift and a new concealer I made a move for the exit of the cosmetic section because I was just feeling pretty anxious. It was after I left that I started to hear a woman and the employee who was at the front of the section yelling after me. I had to pay for the makeup there instead of at the front of the store, which is what's normal for where I live . Paying there wasn't a big problem but at this point I was already pretty anxious and as I fumbled through my purse to find my money, the employee seemed to act pretty negatively to this. Which honestly made me feel even worse. The attention of the other shoppers and the attention from the employee which seemed negative (although apologetic later as I think he could tell I was obviously flustered) was a lot for me to deal with. Situations like these, or ones where large groups are involved, meeting new people, or one’s where I begin to feel uncomfortable have become strong triggers for my social anxiety. So, while that may not seem like anything, it was an event that left me feeling flustered and frustrated. As I had let my anxiety have such a large effect of me again.
I really wanted to write this post as I instantly looked up ways to combat social anxiety when I got home (for probably the 90th time). I read pretty much the same things I have read many many many times before. I also found a lovely blog post by Lauren Kay Sims (read it Here) which really inspired me to share my recent anxiety struggle (as I LOVED reading hers! And It really helped me). So, I decided to write all my thoughts here so I can have a lil’ vent and just share what I've been going through. I also decided to go through a few of my favorite anxiety minimizing tactics and I wanted to share a few with you guys:
To start I find that one thing that has made such an impact in making myself feel comfortable in social situations is; to take my time to get ready. If it is going to be a big event with lots of people, a new experience I’m nervous about, or really just any day I’m feeling a lil’ bit less calm. I always take a longer time to pick out what I’m going to wear, listen to some music, and take time to do my makeup. I always feel better when I think I look better. For me it's when I like what I’m wearing and my makeup. If you aren’t a makeup or clothes person, it can be as simple as eating food that cheers you up or taking an extra few seconds to play with your dog. It’s really all about slowing things down and starting the day right!
Listen to yourself. I find that one of the hardest things about social anxiety is that it can be very isolating. I can’t tell you how many times I have turned down chances to spend time with people because I was feeling anxious. I think the worst thing about this is that you never know if it would have been better to go to that party or to stay home. I have found that by listening to myself, I always make a better choice. When I really can’t go, I can feel it. If I'm not doing amazing, but think I can do it, I listen to myself but I push myself. I go out and do it... but in a way that I feel comfortable with. This can be driving by myself, having a way you can leave if you feel anxious, or just talking to a friend who’s planning it and letting them know what’s going on).
Find a way to take your mind of things. I have found that if I’m out and about unplugging by listening to music or a podcast can do just the trick for me. If I’m at home, unplugging from my phone altogether can be SO nice! I also love taking a bath and sometimes having a little splash out on a Lush bath bomb or another type of bath fizzer. Scents also do wonders at reminding me to calm down, and they really trigger my mind to relax. I have used an essential oil of vali as well as the Stress Relief lotion from bath and body works for this, and they have done wonders for me.
These are just a few of the ways that I go about dealing with my social anxiety and I would LOVE to hear if you guys have dealt with this as well or have any personal tips. I’m of course still struggling with this, so my suggestions are just what gets me through a tough day and aren’t instant solutions (very very unfortunately). Thanks for reading xx