Over the past year, this blog has dealt with a wide range of topics concerning Social Anxiety: from coping with social anxiety at work to combating stage fright, and from the science behind how our brains work to the puppets on Sesame Street.
There have been ways to help understand the symptoms of Social Anxiety and ways in which others – including American Football team The Seattle Seahawks ̶ have used mindfulness in order to help achieve goals.
But everyone needs watershed moments in their lives in which to take stock and look to plan their way forward – and a New Year gives the perfect opportunity to both look back at what has been achieved and to set goals for the next 12 months.
So here’s a few pointers to help get you started – remember, this is in no way an exhaustive list, nor is it a hard-and-fast rulebook to surefire happiness, but setting out on a few different journeys at the start of the year could help 2015 become a better year.
1. Lean on me:
Research shows that not only can friendship help you live longer, but its opposite – isolation – is as dangerous to our health as smoking. If your Social Anxiety makes it hard for you to have a circle of friends or if you feel as if your friendships aren’t working well because of Social Anxiety, it’s worth talking to those close to you to discuss the way you feel. Research from the University of Washington at St Louis late last year shows “people with social anxiety disorder often overestimate how bad their relationships are with friends, when compared to what the friends say” – in short, a good friend can help you understand the effect of your anxiety.
2. Go to work:
Not just to earn money (although that’s important too!), but working on your Social Anxiety will help you learn coping strategies. Most people with Social Anxiety understand the symptoms and their effects – in fact the realisation that Social Anxiety is holding you back is one of the major causes of further anxiety – but using that knowledge to help yourself can be a major factor in breaking out of downward spirals. Try self-help books, work with a therapist or research techniques such as deep-breathing or mindfulness to get you started.
3. Practically speaking:
Sit down and compile a list of the top dozen or so situations which make you anxious and rate them out of 100. Once you have the list, you can start with the easiest and work your way through them. And when you’re in each situation, set realistic goals to show what you can achieve – for example, if you’re at a meeting at work set a goal of making five comments. Anxiety symptoms such as feelings of nervousness and the blushing won’t diminish, but you’ll be able to show how you can function in social situations.
Above all, it’s important to start 2015 with a plan to live with Social Anxiety and to keep a rational outlook on the events which trigger your symptoms. Then you can step out into a new year with a new frame of mind.
All the best for 2015, Kyle