After spending the past year in self-isolation, many people are discovering that the prospect of social situations is causing a level of anxiety they didn’t feel before. Whether that fear is centered around spreading germs, making conversation, or being overstimulated, here are a few coping mechanisms that can help you get through social situations and, hopefully, make them more enjoyable.
Know your boundaries
Take some time to assess your boundaries before stepping into a social situation. You don’t have to be at the party until it ends, just showing up is enough. If you feel as though you have reached your limit, don’t let excusing yourself become something that adds to your anxiety level. Set boundaries within yourself that help make agreeing to social interactions easier because they feel more within your control.
Become your own advocate
It’s okay to step away when you become overstimulated. If you notice your anxiety increasing, take a small break. If you aren’t yet comfortable enough to tell the people you’re with that you need a moment alone, make an excuse to go to the bathroom or the store. Taking a little time to recharge could make your anxiety decrease and social experiences more enjoyable.
Congratulate yourself on little goals
Accomplishing any goal takes effort, so congratulate yourself when you step out of your comfort zone. Don’t let your inner-critic shame you for not spending more time in the situation, or regret speaking up in a group setting. Set small goals for yourself so that you are encouraged to continue working on managing your anxiety.
Get yourself out there
Avoidance will only make your social anxiety worse. Using safety behaviors like avoidance may make you feel temporary relief, but often anxiety worsens when presented with the same situation in the future. So, encourage yourself to follow through on little goals. Raise your hand in class when you know the answer. Go to the party. Speak up in a group conversation. The more you practice, the easier it will be to feel comfortable in the future.
If you would like more help addressing coping strategies for social anxiety, give Tx harmony Counseling a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here.