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Dealing with Social Anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “The defining feature of social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.” If you’re anything like me, social anxiety is no stranger. Maybe it’s all social situations, situations that involve new people, or maybe it manifests when sending emails and making phone calls. Let’s go over some ways to reduce social anxiety.
Most of my problems lie within the sending emails and making phone calls category. That’s pretty bad considering I have an office job. Even when I’m at home, I can’t stand when my cell phone rings. I let most calls go to voicemail, and then I don’t even want to listen to the voicemails half the time. It’s no joke. For some reason that doesn’t seem to exist in person, I’m absolutely terrified of saying the wrong thing or being perceived in a negative way when communicating through these channels. To be fair, once you send an email, it’s pretty much out there forever.
For others, sending emails and making calls may be preferred to talking to other people in person. This is super common, but can be even harder to deal with. After all, most people have to deal with other people multiple times throughout the day.
So what do you do when you struggle from anxiety related to socializing?
Identify What Triggers Your Social Anxiety
As I mentioned above, people who experience social anxiety do so in different ways. In order to overcome our anxieties, we have to figure out what causes them.
For example, let’s look at why I hate sending emails. Email allows for a fast and concise way to communicate information anywhere from a single person to an absolutely massive group. The problem is, once you send an email, there isn’t much opportunity to get it back. Sure, you can cancel it within what’s basically a microsecond. You can also try to recall it, but if the other person has already opened it, you’re out of luck. Email feels permanent to me. If I say the wrong thing, or say the right thing in the wrong way, there are no take backs – I’ve already made a negative impression.
Determine Small Ways to Push Your Boundaries
This is SCARY. I know that. But doing it helps me, so I feel like it might help you, too. If you don’t find ways to allow yourself to push your boundaries in a way that you feel safe, you’ll never be able to reduce social anxiety.
I know that sending emails (especially to bosses or other important people) terrifies me. I also know that most of the communication within my work place takes place via email. So I have to reply to and send emails pretty regularly throughout the day.
When sending an email to an “important person,” I allow myself to freak out for a second. It’s fine – inevitable even. But I have to push past that, and so do you. I do that by typing up my email the whole way in one go. Then I proofread *super* thoroughly to make sure everything looks good. The last thing I do before I send it is call over a trusted friend, and ask them to read it to make sure I come across as professional, intelligent, and polite. After so long of doing that, I’ve gotten to a point where I now trust myself to do most of my email correspondence without the last step.
Enlist a Helping Hand
If your social anxiety manifests in real-life social situations, enlist a trusted friend to attend anxiety-inducing events with you. In times of trouble, there will be a person there to confide in, or worst case, who knows what’s going on and can get you out of a bad situation.
Just being in a scary social situation can be a million times better if you have a friend. There’s a feeling of security that comes with their presence. It also allows you to test out your boundaries while still having a safety net.
Practice Self Care
After dealing with stressful situations, it is imperative to practice self care to ensure your personal wellness. Take some time to unwind with a fulfilling and relaxing activity. Don’t place yourself in overwhelming situations more often than you can reasonably handle.
Let me know below if any of these work for you, along with what you typically do to reduce social anxiety. Also, be sure to follow me on social media (links in the top left corner) and subscribe to blog updates to stay up to date with me and my posts on personal wellness.