When my Generalized Anxiety Disorder was at it’s worst, the thing I struggled with the most was social events. Any sort of upcoming event; whether it was a holiday, a day out, a party – whatever. I really needed to hone in on how to cope with social anxiety for those sort of events because if I didn’t, it would make my life very difficult. Sometimes for MONTHS before the event itself!
Thankfully, I no longer suffer from my anxiety disorder anymore, so I can quite happily look forward to events without worrying about every eventuality. Which trust me, I never thought I’d be able to do.
Social anxiety can be all consuming and really tricky to navigate around. When you’re learning how to cope with social anxiety, ESPECIALLY if it’s events that you struggle with (which is likely), it’s not just the event itself you have to think about.
Everything before, during and afterwards can affect how you feel, how you manage your anxiety and what you take from that experience going forward. Nobody wants to live their life terrified of every event that they might have to attend.
Life is for living. Events and social gatherings are supposed to be fun. And when you have social anxiety (or any anxiety), it can be really difficult to find any of it fun.
So here are 7 small but helpful tips to help you learn how to cope with social anxiety that I’ve used in the past before and during social events!
Look after yourself first
Despite how nervous you might be about something, particularly on the day it’s happening, always try and make sure your feel okay in yourself before I attempt to do anything.
To me, this means drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. Taking a multi-vitamin and my hay fever tablet to prevent any unwanted sneezing fits or sinus headaches which are bound to make things worse and taking the time to just sit and breathe.
If I’m going on holiday or going out for the day, I try and be super organized – usually with a to-do list – and get all my stuff together and ready the night before so that on the day, I’m left with the bare minimum to do and worry about having to do.
I will leave the outfit I’m wearing for the day out, along with underwear, jewellery and anything else so I literally don’t have to think about a thing and will avoid any unnecessary rushing.
Eat plainly and sensibly
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I feel nervous, I find it extremely difficult to eat. Then when I do eat, sometimes the overwhelming nerves make me feel sick.
So whenever you have an upcoming event that’s likely to make you nervous, on the day, always try and eat and plainly as possible and avoid any strong smells or flavours that could make you feel even more sick, especially when you don’t want to eat in the first place.
Take your medication
Whether that’s herbal remedies, CBD oil or anxiety medication, make sure you take it. On time, with water. It can be easy to forget important things like that when you’re so caught up with nerves.
I always set a timer on my phone with a note to remind me, especially on days where there’s an event to go to.
Take the time to do something you enjoy
Even though it may only take your mind off of it for 10 minutes, it’s still so important to forget about everything for a while and just do something fun.
Whether that’s reading a book, gardening, taking the dog for a walk – it doesn’t matter – just try and get out of your own head and put your focus elsewhere.
Talk about it
Like with any mental health worry, talking about it is sometimes the easiest and best thing you can do for yourself. It doesn’t matter who – mum, dad, friend – just someone you trust.
I also find writing things down helps, which is why I am writing this post! Get all your thoughts down onto paper or into a blog post and not only does it distract you for a while, it can sometimes put your worries into perspective.
Related read: 30 Journal Prompts For Mental Health
Take it one hour at a time
Time is a funny thing. When you want it to go slow, it flies by and when you want it to go quick, a minute can feel like an hour.
Naturally, when you’re terribly nervous about something, time always goes so ridiculously quick. When that’s the case, take things one hour at a time. If you have lots of things to do, pick a couple of them to do in that hour and try and focus as much as I can on the hour you’re in and not worry about how much closer to the event I’m getting.
Check out this post on my one amazing technique to help calm your nerves for more about how to take things hour by hour!
Although it’s called “social” anxiety, it really does start with you. Any social situation can be draining and worrying but by doing the above steps, you can feel calmer before the event and hopefully enjoy it a bit more!
Do you suffer with social anxiety? If so, do you have any tips to add to this post? Let me know in the comments?
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It took me until I was an adult to realize that what I suffered from as a child was anxiety. It doesn’t plague me quite like it used to, but I find myself still nervous whenever I have to do something “new.” For example, meeting up with a new friend at a place I haven’t been to before. I find that self-talking helps me. I also talk about it a lot with my husband and friends so they can encourage me and remind me that it’s totally normal to be nervous but totally normal to go and have a good time! Love this post!
Lots of good tips Jenny, talking about it is a good one. Bottling it up is always a bad idea, it’s always good to talk. My daughter suffers from exam anxiety so I’m trying to support her as much as I can with the GCSE’s coming up. A stressful time, no doubt there will be lots of tears, but we talk about it and I hope that helps her. I will be so glad when the exams are all over.
Definitely can relate to this. Unfortunately I forget to do #1 a lot and that makes everything so much harder. I must get better at that. And I can definitely relate to the not eating part. When my anxiety’s at it’s worst.. I don’t have any appetite and can’t even think of food without feeling sick. Great tips you’ve shared here 🙂
I can so relate to this! And like you I find it so sad not to be able to ever really be excited about any upcoming event because I’m too busy having to control my anxiety. That’s why the more it goes the less I plan because I find that anything that’s planned makes me anxious so spontaneous works better for me. But of course in life we can’t just do things as and when we want so the rest of the time we have to deal with that annoying anxiousness in the pit of our stomachs every time there’s something happening. I try to just keep moving when I’m anxious. The more I sit down or lie down the more I think about it and stress out, so I just try to keep busy. I’m grateful for my kids because looking after them often helps me to forget myself and my anxiousness because I’m focusing on them instead. Anyway, thanks for the advice and good luck – just know that you’re not alone 🙂
I’m afraid I’m new to the whole anxiety thing, I’m having a bit of trouble keeping calm about multitasking and about deadlines and things like that but worse than that little things are starting to get to me too, if someone needs something for school the next day, or I’m not organised and we’re running late I can feel my heart rate speed up. It’s terrible and then you worry about worrying if you know what I mean. I was just thinking the other day I must start reading through your old posts on it, I always read just out of interest but never out of necessity if you know what I mean. Thanks for this, a lot of common sense that you forget in the moment x
I can definitely relate with you here! Especially the not being able to eat part! Sometimes when i’m just going for a long drive, and I KNOW were going for a long drive, I get terrible anxiety! I think its because I used to always get car sick on long drives growing up and now I just associate every long drive with getting sick so eating anything usually ends up in me getting sick- it totally sucks! These are all really great tips! 🙂
Reblogged this on Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie and commented:
Worrying must be good, for it shows care and caution…
Oh boy I can relate. Nothing really helps me, I can worry for England. Even with masses of Kalms and Recue Remedy…