If you suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD), you’re probably well aware of all the evil little ways in which your negative thoughts eat away at you during the day. On the road to overcoming SAD, one of the most important things you can do is learn to predict the exact patterns of how it affects you personally. Once you’ve got SAD’s game plan figured out, you’re in a much better position to formulate your own powerful counter-moves!
Everyone’s experience with social anxiety disorder will be a little different - but to get you started, I’m giving you 3 of my own killer strategies for shutting down SAD before it has the chance to hijack your brain.
1. The Post-Socialising Worries
This is a big one for me.
What happens - and you may be familiar with this yourself - is this:
Let’s say I’ve just met someone new for the first time. This is generally a pretty uncomfortable experience for me. I tend to stutter more than usual, speak way too fast, blush… the whole gamut. Once the situation is over and I’m heading off on my own, my brain starts to obsessively nitpick all the little ways in which it thinks I screwed up the conversation. It’ll say things like:
- They probably thought you were a weirdo!
- Was it a hug situation or a hand-shake one? You probably misjudged that
- I bet they noticed you blush
- Did I say all the right things? Did I say anything offensive?
And on… and on… and on.
What I’ve learnt from experience, is that you just have to shut these thoughts down before they even get a chance to flood your brain. Hum your favourite tune, repeat your favourite mantra - whatever you have to do to keep your mind off-limits to these pesky thoughts.
2. Super-speed Mode
One of the best ways to spot social anxiety creeping up is to check your speedometer. Here’s what I mean by that: when anxiety levels are high, you’re thoughts run faster, you move faster, you speak faster, and you breathe faster. Once you notice you’re going way over the speed-limit, all you have to do is slow down.
I find it helpful to take a moment to first slow down down my breathing. Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique to achieve this. Simply:
- Breathe in to the count of four,
- Hold for seven,
- Breathe out for eight.
- Repeat 3-4 times.
Once you’ve down that, make sure you’re limbs are relaxed, and if you’re walking, that you walk at an easier pace. Simply by being slower, your mind will slow down too.
3. Anxiety Posture
This is in a similar vein to the previous point. When we’re stuck in social anxiety mode, our body will reflect this. When you’re caught in a social anxiety spiral you’ll probably be:
- Hunched over
- Looking down
- Clenching your fists (or toes)
You’ll never feel good while your body is in this state! This is so important.
All you have to do once you’ve noticed yourself is this: look up, loosen your muscles, stand up straight, and be open.
It is so important to simply prevent social anxiety from grabbing onto you as soon as it starts. Once you’ve noticed your state and have made these quick steps to change it, find a way to occupy yourself. Refocus on the task at hand, sing a song, read a book, talk to your loved ones; just find a good distraction. Don’t argue with your social anxiety, don’t get engaged with it, don’t even give it the time of day.
If you find these suggestions helpful, please subscribe to my email newsletter and I’ll share more of my own personal strategies with you!
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