What a little beauty. So faithful.
Like a shadow – it never seems to leave your side. You almost feel sorry for it, when you even as much as dare to think of ditching it. Ah, the guilt!
Have you thought about it like this before?
Didn’t think so…
You wanna learn a trick? It’s actually quite simple.
Slap it on the face
Well, not literally…
What do you do with a screaming brat that’s hanging on to you and won’t do as he’s told?
Well, you can try shouting at him to calm him down, and any other of your disciplinary tricks, but I guarantee, that won’t stop him. If it does, it will come back with a vengeance next time.
Or you might try to talk sense into him. But being a stubborn little creature all he does then is walks all over you…
No, that is not a good thing to do either.
Divert its attention
However, when you stick the TV on, or let him play computer games, the kid chills out. As if by magic. He won’t even want to hang onto you any longer, he’s become mesmerised by the flickering power of the box. You may now get on with your life.
Imagine your social anxiety as that kid, who craves constant attention. It’s really your mind to blame, just as you know the kid might be bad because of bad parenting. It’s the same thing.
You’ve allowed it to overrule you. Big time.
But you’re convinced, somehow you can stop this. It will take some effort but it’ll be worth it.
Your aim is to distract it any way you can. You have to start putting a bit of distance between the two of you. It is not impossible. You start by a little, then build it up gradually.
And how can you do that, when your mind seems to come back to your anxiety at the worst times? It’s like you started fearing anxiety itself.
There are things you can do… And what are those you might ask. Well, I may not make your life easier when I say – it’s up to you.
You know what things you enjoy doing, and take your mind off your fears. These can be new activities you’ve always wanted to try. Or things you already like doing.
Here’s a few suggestions that are proven to work:
How to Reduce Social Anxiety
Volunteering: seriously consider this activity if you want to ditch your social anxiety. You get out (of your head). You socialise. You help others. You feel good about it. Everybody wins. Nothing more to say really…
Meditating and mindfulness: not only for monks. I’m not talking about sitting for hours in one place trying to ’empty’ your mind either. Instead, try calming your mind and pay attention what goes on around you. Notice sights and sounds around you that you walked straight past before, because you were too busy worrying about something else. When was the last time you actually heard the splashing of water in the sink?
Martial arts: I know what you’re thinking. It takes guts even just to sign up for a class. But once you’ve been to one, it gets easier. They are there to drum discipline, confidence and self esteem into you. You’d be mad not to grab the opportunity, no matter how old you are. ‘Self defence’ works in many layers. You can become free of anxiety, and you make friends for life.
Group sports: instead of toiling away at the gym all by yourself, why not go for a sport that involves team work? I used to love playing volley ball with the school team. There is simply no time to let worries enter your mind, you’re so busy keeping the ball in the air! There are a myriad of other sports to choose from!
Art/creativity: a solitary activity anyone can do. We all have the ability to create beautiful things (or practical ones), you just have to find what it is you like doing. This is another way you can let off some stress by using different skills and perceptions. It’s soothing, calming and challenging.
Music: there aren’t many people you meet who don’t like music in some form. It’s because it has the ability to make us feel better. Be that listening to music, playing an instrument or attending gigs with your friends.
Comedy and laughter: this is by far the quickest way to distract your anxiety. There is a saying “Laughter is the best medicine.” I second that. Social anxiety sufferers can take things way too seriously and find it difficult to relax. But that’s ok, as it won’t take long to regain some laughter and happiness back into your life.
Of course you cannot do these activities any time you like. You have to go to work and get on with your life in general. These are often the times when your anxieties are likely to surface as well. By engrossing yourself in activities you enjoy doing, your anxiety is ignored… For a while anyway.
You have to do them often enough for them to be effective. It is no coincidence some of the above involves being around others and interacting socially. That’s because you overcome these fears best, when confronting them.
You develop and keep anxiety going by excessively thinking about what you most fear or don’t like about yourself. You must stop this spiral and reverse it to a healthy level.
Though it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll never have social anxiety once you are ‘cured’.
It’s normal to feel anxious in new and unfamiliar situations, but it’s abnormal to constantly dwell on things. Especially those beyond your control.
So go on. Start distracting the hell out of your social anxiety!