This post is written by one of our guest authors, Jill Johnson. We are so excited for you to hear from her. She is also the author of the children’s book, Bipolar, Daddy, & Me and the creator of www.sunnysideupcompany.com.
So it’s that time of the year. You were coerced into being at the family gathering to do the turkey thing and somehow survived it. Now Christmas is around the corner and, no doubt, you’ll be spending it with the family. No worries! But what about the holiday that really matters to you? You know, the one that you want to spend exclusively with friends. If you’re young, or at least, feel young at heart, chances are you don’t want to be stuck in the house again with Grandma Moses and the FAM on one of the biggest social eves of the year – New Year’s Eve.
Instead, you’re banking on getting out with friends, your own age to have a little fun. So you say to yourself, this year will be different than last year. I’ll shop for the perfect little black dress, my makeup will be flawless, and I’ll rock those slamming shoes that I never did get to wear last New Year’s Eve. It all sounds good until …you start to think about it! The very idea of going out on the town with friends and maybe even busting a move starts to give you the heebie jeebies. In fact, it paralyzes you. What gives?
Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you may be suffering from Social Anxiety. Everyone experiences anxiety at some time or another in life. It’s common to everyone. If speaking in front of an audience makes you nervous and causes a level of anxiety to rise in you, that’s Ok. You are in good company with everyone else. Some experience anxiety at job interviews while others driving in heavy traffic, but it’s still all good. The anxiety we sometimes feel during these times can actually propel us upward. It can help us to prepare and perform better in the things we are trying to accomplish. However, when feelings of intense fear and distress overwhelm us and keep us from doing everyday things, and when it keeps us from socializing with others, we may have a big problem. [http://Nami.org/November 8, 2015]
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization said that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. An estimated 40 million adults in the U.S., or 18%, have an anxiety disorder. It affects more women than men. Whether it’s in the form of Social, Panic, Phobias or Generalized disorders, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common. It attacks one at the gut level and can do a number in one’s head.
Emotionally, the symptoms of anxiety disorders leave one feeling apprehensive, restless, irritable, dreaded, anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger. And like an uninvited guest, physical symptoms can take over the body. You may feel like your heart is pounding or racing so much that you cannot breathe. The palm of your hands may get sweaty. You may suffer tremors, twitches, fatigue, insomnia, upset stomach, frequent urination, and diarrhea. These are the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Social Anxiety, unlike shyness, causes intense fear. It’s often driven by irrational worries about social humiliation such as being afraid of saying something stupid or not knowing what to say. Sufferers may not participate in conversations, contribute to class work, social discussions, or offer their ideas. They may become isolated and have frequent panic attacks. [http://Nami.org/November 8, 2015]
According to John Tsilimparis, MFT, director of the Anxiety and Panic Disorder Center of Los Angeles and one of the therapists on A&E’s Obsessed, a show about severe anxiety disorders, “Three of the most common characteristics of someone with an anxiety disorder are perfectionism, relying on others for approval and need for control.”
Here are 7 tips that will help you in your journey.
- Check out how this contributes to, feeds into, and ultimately affects your life.
- Keep your thoughts in check. Distortional thinking feeds your anxiety.
- Follow this mental exercise: Is it true to that person, that thing you’re feeling, etc.? If you do not have any evidence of what you’re thinking or feeling is true, send the distorted mind packing. Worrying is fictional not factual.
- Look for, the evidence. Is what you’re thinking or feeling true?
- Give up the control. Realize that you cannot control life. “While we can’t control the world, we can control our reaction to it,” Tsilimparis said.
- Give up absolute, black and white thinking.
- Trust Yourself. “Self-trust is the ability to believe that you can handle what life throws at you,” Luciani said.
- According to Luciani, “If you’re anxious, your trust muscle has atrophied, and your insecurity has become muscle bound.” Strengthen your muscles by taking risks. [Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.]
- Stop people-pleasing. Do you say yes to someone when you really mean no? [Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.]
- Paying attention to how you interact with people and the times you initiate people-pleasing behavior.
- Last but not least, learn to laugh at yourself. So what if you commit a social faux pas. No one actually cares?
Now that you know, go ahead and put yourself out there. You don’t have to overthink it. Give that work presentation you’ve always wanted to give. Speak up more loudly. Wear that little black dress that has been hanging in your closet. Go out and bust a move on a dance floor. The sky’s the limit. Who knows, this may be the start of something sweet!
About the Writer: Jill Johnson is the author of the children’s book, Bipolar, Daddy, & Me. She is also the creator of www.sunnysideupcompany.com.