Having Social Anxiety can be debilitating at times. I always try to push myself outside my comfort zone to continue to heal my mind and body. However sometimes I push too hard and forget that it takes time; that you cant rush the healing process. Here are some tools to help with social anxiety that I implement when my social anxiety runs away with me…
First and foremost, always. Make space and time for you to recover from a panic attack or a bout of anxiety. Whether that’s a few minutes, a few hours or a few days. Speak to your colleagues at work, let them know what’s going on so that you can get the help you need. Its worth mentioning that you should speak to people you trust who you can confide in, who will be there for you in your time of need.
It might seem logical but when your world is crashing down around you, the last thing you’re thinking about is what your lungs are doing. Ironically, it should be the first. Some panic attacks consist of hyperventilating. This happens when you are breathing in and out in very short and sharp breaths, and you can’t regain control. It feels like you can’t breathe.
You would need to explain this to someone close to you beforehand, so that when it happens, you get that person to take your hand and look you in the eye, and guide you in taking big breaths in and out, in a slow and steady way. If you can sit quietly and remember to do this on your own, close your eyes and concentrate on gaining control of your breath, making each breath in and out slower and longer each time. When you have control of your breath, you can subsequently gain control of your mind.
Wearing a bracelet or man-bangle
It could be a ring on your finger, a necklace, a bracelet, a lucky charm, a key chain. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but its there with you always to remind you to stay calm and to bring you back down. This is great if you feel yourself losing control and starting to panic. Focusing on something small really helps, being mindful when looking at it, how its made, turning it over in your hands etc.
This is a great way to distract your mind if you feel yourself starting to go down that panicked slippery slope. It brings you right back pretty quickly. What I love most about this tool is that if its small enough you can take it with you wherever you go and whether you’re stressed or not, its there as a little reminder that no matter what, you’ve got this.
Music motivates me, whether Im feeling a little panicky or not. I find it easier to work when there’s music. Sometimes I find it calming and relaxing, sometimes I find it motivating and inspiring. Sometimes, it distracts me in a situation that potentially could lead me to have a panic attack. The great thing about music these days is that you’re never far away from a great tune; whether its a CD in a car, the office radio or streaming from your smart phone.
Phone a Friend
One of my favourites! These days there is a lot of messaging going on, text, Whatsapp, Signal, FaceBook, and I’m sure a multitude of other social network platforms where you can easily converse via text online.
There is something to be said however, about actually speaking to a person, hearing their tone of voice and laughter instead of just reading the words. And with todays technology, there’s Skype, Face Time, Zoom, Whatsapp Video and Teams – all great ways to video chat with someone.
But sometimes, all you need is a good old fashioned phone call. Tony Robbins once said: “Stay in your head, you’re dead”. I really like this quote because in your head, things can easily escalate out of control, making the smallest task or obstacle feel like Mount Kilimanjaro.
Speaking with a friend, someone you trust, can really help put things into perspective and bring you back down to earth. Make sure though that this is one of the beautiful souls in your Tribe of Lovelies (as I like to call them), the people that look out for you no matter what. The people who will tell you the truth, not to hurt you but to protect you and keep you safe.
This little beauty is often overlooked but can be key in looking after your mental health. How you speak to yourself in your mind is vitally important. For example, go and stand in front of a full length mirror and note all the things you start telling yourself in your head.
We often say hurtful things to ourselves while looking in the mirror, like: “You could lose that muffin top sitting around your stomach”. “That double chin needs to go”. “When did those chicken wings under your arms get there”. “Those thunder thighs are getting bigger by the day, time to get back on that bicycle or go for a run”. These are all really harsh words. Now imagine one of your closest, dearest friends standing in front of you. Would you say any of those things to them about their body? So then why do you it to yourself? We really are our own harshest critics.
This was a major shift in my life’s journey, when I started being kinder to myself in my mind. Pulling an oracle card with a positive affirmation for the day is my go-to tool these days. I’ve been practicing kind self-talk for many years but still I catch myself every now and then half way through a really mean sentence about the way I look or feel, or how long it took me to accomplish a task.
I have to stop myself and change it to something positive like: be patient with yourself, you’re doing a great job. Or: Today is one day, we will try again tomorrow. Or: you’re on your path, they’re on theirs, you carry on with your journey and wish them luck on theirs.
Dont get me wrong though, Im not saying dont exercise or stop taking care of your body. Exercise is so important for a number of reasons, and this is the only body you have in this life time so look after it and it will look after you.
This may sound a little comical but being prepared for any given situation really helps me stay calm. My bag for work is so heavy that friends often joke and ask if I’m carrying bricks around with me! However, for me its vital to have certain things with me, just in case. Knowing that I’m prepared for any situation at any given time eliminates any unnecessary stresses that could cause me to panic. It keeps me calm.
Getting Enough Sleep
This one is often overlooked but so vitally important. When you’re tired and running on 5% battery, your mind cant think properly or process things accurately. Its a lot easier to lose sight of what’s important and jump to incorrect conclusions when you’re lacking some good quality sleep. Things always seem better or more logical and clearer after a good nights sleep.
I hope this article has been insightful, or maybe its made you think of someone who suffers from another form of anxiety? Feel free to forward this on to them, you never know how much it may help them. Do you have any coping mechanisms you use to get you through stressful situations? I’d love to hear from you, feel free to leave your comments below and I’ll be sure to reply.
Much love and healing light to all of you,