It may seem like a silly thing to some – why would you need to survive a large gathering? You go, you laugh, you talk, you drink and eat and have a good time. For some, yes this is how a gathering of friends, family, colleagues will go. However, for others, it is not like this at all. Hours, days, maybe even weeks beforehand they will start to think about it. Worry. Their anxiety about the event will increase a little bit each time they realise the event is getting closer until the thought of going is often too much and perhaps they don’t even actually go.
Social anxiety or a fear of large groups of people is not uncommon and actually becoming a lot more commonplace. Each person will feel and react differently to each individual situation but what is similar across them all is perhaps the disappointment they feel at not being able to overcome their hang-ups to enjoy the social situation for what it should be.
It’s not a hopeless situation though as there are a lot of therapies and techniques that can help manage and in some circumstances overcome the anxiety that you feel.
Obviously, if social anxiety is stopping you living your life to the full and you’ve not been able to deal with it alone, then seeking professional help to work through your anxieties is probably the best course of action. You can even find a therapist that specialises in anxiety disorders or find one that you feel comfortable with and go from there.
When the anxiety starts and begins to build, a great technique for combating it is deep breathing. It can be as simple as taking in a deep breath and counting as you both inhale and exhale to control the breathing. This gives your mind something else to focus on other than the anxiety. To learn more about deep breathing you can read this article from Psych Central.
This might sound a little strange but this helps you take small steps and build them up. What you should do is create a list of situations that cause you to experience anxiety and then put them into an order of severity e.g. Least severity is going to the shop for milk to the strongest being speaking to a room full of 100 work colleagues on a presentation. Then what you do, when you feel ready is to start at the lowest and work your way up the ladder. Hopefully as you work your way through the list you will begin to see that you can accomplish what you set out to do.
Easier said than done as when anxieties rear their ugly heads, they tend to squash any positive vibes, but it is important to try and stay positive. Assess a situation, try and find some positives within it even if it’s something like, “I only have to stay for an hour!” The more positives you can find, the easier a situation becomes. If it helps, write them down or make a mental list and as you enter the situation, run through them in your mind, repeat them like a mantra. Try and stay positive.
Anxiety can be such a hindrance, but you don’t need to let it be one. Try and employ the techniques we’ve suggested and of course, we’d be happy to talk to anyone about therapy and work together towards an anxiety free life for you.