Social anxiety is like a vicious cycle; you feel anxious about other people’s judgments and then the more you think about it you feel like a failure, ashamed of the fact that you suffer from anxiety and back and forth it goes.
When these shaky, horrid moments arise, the best thing to reach for in the short term is the anchor. In the long term, we need to understand ourselves and our patterns. Wishu has put together a list of tips to apply in both the short and long term as a guide to help overcome social anxiety.
This step takes a lot of courage and mental energy so take the time you need to prepare. It’s not always the best time to self-reflect and sometimes it may feel like self-analysis will lead to a depressive episode. Nevertheless, self-reflection is crucial for self-acceptance and evolution. When you’re ready, it’s time to identify your safety behaviours. Safety behaviours are things that you do because you think they will help you cope better in a social situation. It makes you feel less anxious at the time but it doesn’t actually help you in the long term.
Scribe your Gratitude
When you feel your anxiety spiralling, gratitude is a great anchor. Grab yourself a cup of tea or whatever treat lifts your mood and note 5 things that you’re grateful for. It could be the simplest things like this cup of coffee, existential gratitude such as being thankful for working legs and a brain or extravagance like gratitude for an upcoming vacation. Immediately your perspective shifts even if ever so slightly into one of positivity and your clarity shifts to a bigger picture.
Exposure therapy means doing the thing which makes you anxious. It sounds scary, but sometimes forcing courage for situations that are not life-threatening can ground us and help us see the bigger picture. For example, if you’re anxious about calling the doctor, you grab the phone and call. Anxious about going to a gig? Put on your headphones and head out the door. It doesn’t always work and bringing a friend certainly helps but sometimes biting the bullet is the best way to grow.
Track your Progress
Tracking your progress reminds you that you’re not a failure. It allows you to look back on previous anxious episodes and remind yourself that they weren’t the end of the world in the long run which most likely means that your current episode won’t lead to disaster and doesn’t define you as a failure.