Overcoming my severe social anxiety.

I had mentioned in a previous article that for years I struggled with my weight and self esteem. I was bullied all throughout grade school, didn’t have many friends in college. All of this manifested into severe, debilitating anxiety later in my adulthood. Steve and I spent countless days and nights coming up with coping strategies to get my life back on track. Here are the four things I found most helpful.

Joining a social anxiety forum.

Social anxiety forums served as a support group for me, since they are comprised of individuals who also experience anxiety. I found myself constantly worried about people in the real world judging me but in forums I always knew I would hear kind words of encouragement. I felt far more comfortable sharing with people who I knew were *ahem* on the same page. This allowed me to talk openly and honestly about my feelings and fears.

Seeking the support of my friends and family.

The hardest thing was opening up to people who are close to me. Some people regarded my anxiety as being timid or shy but reaching out was one of the best decisions I have ever made. For years, Steve was my savior when it came to group events, he always knew how to get me out of an uncomfortable situation. I try to do the same with Addison who, while not necessarily anxious, is certainly a rather shy kid.

Perform simple relaxation techniques.

Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, controlled breathing or muscle relaxation, help me reduce the symptoms of social anxiety attacks. Every day, I practice even the simplest breathing exercises because they make a big difference.

Get help.

I was uncomfortable  with the idea of seeking “professional help”. It always seemed terrifying to be evaluated and, ultimately judged, by another person. I felt far more comfortable with self-help. After reading through around a dozen books and taking almost as many courses, I can say that the two most helpful sources of information have been Sean Cooper’s blog for overcoming social anxiety as well as Barry McDonagh’s tips to help with panic attacks. While conventional therapy seems to work for many sufferers, I found the cost to be rather prohibitive. I also never liked the idea of taking medication, especially dangerously addictive anxiety drugs.

I still have my good days and my bad ones. Sometimes I still need my superhero husband to rescue me from a crowd of strangers. However, in combination with my recent weight loss and self love efforts, above tips have allowed me to once again enjoy my life and socialize.

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.”