Having social anxiety can make day to day life challenging. Throw in a pandemic and a move to everything being online and it can be even more difficult. That being said, there are a few methods I have been using to help keep my anxiety at a manageable level.
Start a journal
If you haven’t already, journaling is a great way to deal with any anxieties you are having by getting them down on paper. Sometimes I do a complete brain dump where I just write down whatever thoughts are in my head as I find this helps me to relieve my stress if I’m getting stuck in my thoughts. Alternatively, you can be more thoughtful in your journaling by writing out the positives of each day, or writing down your thought and trying to combat it in a logical way. There are loads of different ways to journal, and no right or wrong, so just see what works best for you. If you’re ever stuck on how to get started, Pinterest is a great place to get journaling prompts.
Keep in touch with loved ones
When I’m feeling particularly anxious, my first instinct is to retreat into myself and isolate. Whilst the last thing you may want to do if you’re in this headspace is speak to other people, I find speaking to family or friends really helps to improve my mood. As we can’t currently meet up in person, I have been having online video calls with my friends and playing games which has been just as helpful. I would definitely encourage you to try and keep in touch with loved ones, particularly at the moment when it’s very easy to feel lonely or isolated.
One of the hardest but most effective ways I found to ease my social anxiety was to step outside of my comfort zone. For me, speaking to new people or going somewhere I haven’t visited before is what causes a spike in my anxiety and I tend to overthink these scenarios. If you feel able, try and challenge yourself to do something that you wouldn’t usually do. A good rule of thumb is if it makes you feel a bit nervous or uncomfortable you’re on the right track! Start small; I set myself the challenge of going to a coffee shop I’ve never been to before and instead of researching beforehand (opening times, what’s on the menu etc), I just had to turn up and decide when I got there.
Anxiety is very good at making us feel like we can’t do things, even if it isn’t true. So by setting yourself these small tasks and succeeding you’re teaching your brain that actually not everything it thinks is true. As I mentioned, this was difficult for me to do, however I saw so much progress when I did do it.
It has long been proven that fresh air and the outdoors can do wonders for your wellbeing. If you’re not a huge fan of exercise, just going on a simple walk around the block can be a great way to clear your mind and gain some clarity over your thoughts. As restrictions lift, consider going on a walk with your friends and making a day of it by taking a picnic. If you also struggle to sleep well or switch your mind off at night, I find on days where I have been out on a walk I sleep much better, so win-win!
Speak to a professional
If your anxiety is impacting on your day to day life and you are struggling, please do consider getting in touch with a mental health professional. Samaritans can offer anonymous advice whilst Mind provide online resources.
Within Lincolnshire, Steps2Change is NHS funded and offers free talking therapy to help with a variety of mental health issues. You can self-refer here. I used the Steps2Change service last year and found their cognitive behavioural therapy treatment massively helpful. If you are interested in CBT, you can watch my full video here.