Open Accessibility Menu
Hide

Seven tips to help ease social anxiety

Seven tips to help ease social anxiety

The leaves turn color and fall off the trees. There is a chill in the air that is positively spine tingling. Ghastly ghouls fill all the rooms and zombies gather. Sounds like a fun costume party, right?

Moscow mules, turkey, mulled wine, stuffing and pumpkin pie with whipped cream fill up our homes and bring family and friends together in fellowship. Heartwarming and fulfilling, right?

Gift exchanges, work carry-ins for lunches and holiday parties flood our calendars for the month of December. It’s a joyous season of love and celebrations for all to enjoy, right?

Cap it all off with tailgating and cheering on your team! Sharing junk food, laughing at the commercials and mourning the football season till next fall. Best time ever? Maybe not so much.

Did you know that there is an estimated 15 million American adults who are affected by social anxiety disorders? These disorders are above and beyond being shy or socially awkward, and can vary in severity. Instead of heartwarming, sufferers feel heart palpitations. Instead of joy and laughter, they feel symptoms of stage fright and embarrassment. Social anxiety can make it nearly impossible for some people to enjoy the parties, get-togethers, crowded rooms and noise of a party or the holidays.

If you are one of these people, you may find these feelings of discomfort cause you to avoid social situations. You may struggle with sweaty hands, tense muscles, difficulty breathing and may even feel dizzy. You might have the feeling that others are watching or even judging you. Your physical responses to the anxiety caused by social interaction may prevent you from participating in an event that you really do wish to be part of. Something as simple as having dinner with a friend in a restaurant may become too difficult to do.

There are some strategies you can try to help you get through the next party or social scenario you may be faced with. The following tips are useful for anyone to try:

  • Prepare. Whether you suffer with social anxiety or not, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for any upcoming event. You don’t have to attend every party, nor are you obligated to over commit yourself! Thinking ahead, considering your calendar and saying, “no thanks” is a life skill we all could practice more!
  • Be honest. Before you go, let the host of your social obligation know that you struggle with social anxiety. You’ll ensure that you’ll be well taken care of; and if you need to leave you don’t have to worry about explaining later.
  • Be comfortable. If part of your anxiety stems from the feeling of being watched or judged, choose your clothes in advance and even ask a trusted friend to help. Select clothing you feel confident in and practice not focusing on perfection. You don’t have to look perfect or say the perfect words-just be friendly. “Kindness makes you the most beautiful person in the world, no matter what you look like.”
  • Bring a friend. Bring a person you can rely on when faced with a social situation you are uncomfortable with. You will have someone to talk to, someone who can encourage you and someone who can be your excuse to leave if needed!
  • Phone a friend. If you are feeling especially anxious, drop a text to someone in your contact list that will give you some encouragement or remind you of strategies to successfully navigate your event. Repeat the positive affirmations friends have given you, and remember to be kind to yourself. We live up to what we tell ourselves.
  • For family events, offer to arrive and help with party preparation. You’ll have time to adjust to your surroundings and may even make some fun new memories with your family. If family time is a source of your anxiety, make a plan before you get there such as how long you’ll stay, who you’ll sit by, and so forth. And choose to stick to neutral conversations or topics you love, unless you are the family crazy cat lady.
  • If you take medications for your anxiety, use your prescription as directed. Assure that you are taking the correct dose and taking it at the correct time. Visit with your physician regularly to assess the efficacy of your medications.

If you are concerned that you may be affected by social anxiety, consider speaking with a mental health counselor. Seeking care can be the beginning of a life changing experience that opens up a whole new world of social options. Campbell County Health Behavioral Health Services provides the Northeastern Wyoming community with compassionate, confidential and comprehensive treatment of behavioral disorders, mental illness and substance abuse treatment following detox. Appointments are available Monday–Friday from 8 am–5 pm. Call 307.688.5000 or visit www.cchwyo.org/BHS.

More information can be found online here:

Rachel Conrad, PBT, CPT, MA, works at CCH Wellness as a Technician, Phlebotomist and Healthcoach. Campbell County Health's Wellness works to reduce health risks and promote overall wellness among employee groups and individuals across the northeastern Wyoming region. To learn more about Wellness, please visit www.cchwyo.org/services/wellness/ or call 307.688.8051.