With the world returning to normal slowly but surely, getting back in touch with society is proving to be anxiety-provoking for some. And especially so for those who were already socially anxious before the pandemic. If that is you, the idea of returning to society can feel pretty intimidating and downright frightening. So if you’ve been looking for the best ways to calm anxiety, you’ve come to the right place.
Do you think you deal with social anxiety?
Everyone at one time or another has had a moment when they felt anxious or embarrassed in a social situation. Or felt uneasy when having to meet new people or talk in front of a crowd. That’s pretty typical. But if you are socially anxious, not only do you feel anxious, but you also find yourself worrying for weeks before you encounter these types of situations.
Unfortunately, with the general advice for the past year or so being to social distance and avoiding gatherings outside the family circle to keep Covid-19 at bay, this only reinforced any social anxiety that was already in place.
If you were already living with social anxiety before all the lockdowns and social distancing occurred, you probably found it the perfect opportunity to insulate yourself in a cocoon of privacy where you didn’t have to talk to strangers or attend social gatherings.
Now, just the thought of leaving your comfort zone and returning to the society that has been stuck on pause fills you with anxiety and dread.
Well, let me reassure you, even those that didn’t deal with social anxiety before the pandemic are finding the prospect of reentering society a little daunting also. So don’t be too hard on yourself. I’m sure they are looking for ways to calm anxiety too.
So, what can you do to ease back into society again?
Well, avoiding situations that cause you anxiety might work in the short term, but in reality, it only maintains your anxiety for the long term. On the other hand, if you can gradually face those situations in small doses, your anxiety will be less, and over time you will be able to engage in more activities more comfortably.
If you’ve been living with anxiety for a length of time, you probably already have some coping strategies in place to manage the way you feel. However, when you are in public, you might also find that some of those strategies don’t work very well because you can’t control your environment the same way you can when you are at home.
So, what’s a person to do? Oh, here’s the good part. There are many ways to get you feeling more comfortable and confident when you are in the public eye.
But what are the best ways to calm anxiety?
Perusing the internet, I ran across an article titled, 11 Ways We Can Manage Our Anxiety When (We’re) In Public from The Blurt Foundation CIC. I felt that eight of the eleven ways listed were a perfect fit for this blog and would be helpful to you, so I would like to share them with you below.
Eight ways to calm anxiety
1. HAVE A PLAN
Having an idea of where we’re heading, how we get there, and where our timings fit in can be a great source of relief. It can help us to feel more in control. Sitting down before we go somewhere and working out the order in which we’re doing things can help to prevent us from having to make sudden decisions when we’re out in public, which can help to reduce the number of panic-filled situations that we might encounter.
2. ALLOW ENOUGH TIME
If we’re heading somewhere and all of a sudden we have to rush, and we worry about missing a deadline (such as the time doors close for a concert, the time we’re supposed to be at work, or the train time), then our anxiety can escalate very, very quickly. Even if we do manage to get to the place on time, then we’re likely to arrive feeling hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable. We might also worry about smelling of sweat, and our heart will probably be pounding. Making a plan of where we’re going and when and then adding in contingency time in case things go wrong can help to prevent us from having to rush.
3. TAKE SOMETHING TO FIDDLE WITH
Anxiety can leave us feeling jittery and unable to stay still. Often our fingers will feel twitchy, and we won’t know what to do with ourselves. Having something in our pockets that we can fiddle with can help to occupy our hands, and the very act of having that to grip onto can help us to calm down. We could have a fidget spinner, fidget cube, or a lump of plasticine. Some people also have things on their wrists they can fiddle with, like elastic bands or bobbles, or things on their hands such as spinner rings.
4. TAKE DISTRACTIONS
Although we have to be careful not to crash into a lamppost if we’re walking down the street looking at our phone, flicking through social media can be a great way to distract us from the world around us. If we’re on public transport, we could read a book, do some puzzles or even bring a portable craft like crochet to keep us busy. Having something to focus on other than the unfamiliarity and inconsistency of the world around us can help to keep our anxiety at bay.
When we panic, we often breathe quick, shallow breaths, which can lead to us feeling dizzy, which consequently escalates our panic. Controlling our breathing can help us to calm down. There are loads of different breathing techniques, including breathing in through our nose and out through our mouth, square breathing, and breathing in for a count of four and out for a count of four.
6. PRACTICE GROUNDING
When we’re super-anxious, sometimes we lose touch with where we are, which can be disorientating and can send us on an increasingly anxious spiral. In order to ground ourselves, it can be helpful to notice things around us that relate to our senses. We could start by noticing one thing we can hear, one we can see, one we can smell, one we can taste, and one we can touch. If we’re struggling to focus, we could chew chewing gum and focus on the sensation of that or bring a particular smell with us in the form of perfume or something like a lavender pillow.
7. HAVE A MANTRA
Repeating the same mantra over and over again can help us to stay calm. We could either repeat it in our head, tap it out on our body, or say it quietly to ourselves as we’re walking along. A mantra with a sense of rhythm can be particularly helpful, such as ‘I’m safe, I’m okay’. Chanting it to the time of our footsteps as we’re walking along can help us to feel connected.
8. LEAN ON SOMEONE
There’s absolutely no shame in asking someone to go with us when we go somewhere, especially if it’s somewhere that we’ve never been before. Moral support can be invaluable. If we’re not able to find anyone who can accompany us, we could arrange to talk to someone on the phone while we’re out or text them as we’re walking around. Having someone at the end of the phone, or by our side, who we can call on in moments of panic and who knows where we are and what we’re doing can help us to feel safer and more secure.
Well, there you have it. Eight ways to get started on calming your anxiety. If you would like to have someone come alongside you to help you with these techniques, working with an anxiety coach through breakthrough coaching is an excellent way to go. I believe, by trial and error, you can find the best ways to calm anxiety that works for you.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online. I’d love the opportunity to cheer you on as you discover and master anxiety relief techniques to give you the confidence you need to stay calm when you are out and about.