The 2017 Annual Bullying Survey carried out by Ditch the Label revealed that 37% of people surveyed developed social anxiety as a direct result of bullying.
Social anxiety can vary from a bit of nervousness around new people, to a crippling inability to connect with anyone in a social situation. It is described as a fear of social situations that involve interactions with other people. Sounds pretty scary on the surface, but the good news is that it is possible to completely overcome social anxiety and ensure you live your life to the fullest.
There are some measures you can take to ease up your anxiety, but this does involve slowly creeping out of your comfort zone at a pace that you are comfortable with so you have to approach it with an open mind and a will for change… well, no one said it would be easy, right!? Fear not, anxious friends… Ditch the Label are here to help you make sure you don’t miss out on another party, football match or day out again…
We know you’re probably rolling your eyes at this one… easier said than done right!? We know – thats like telling someone to just change their eye colour or to be less tall! But try some of these relaxation techniques for when you feel stress and tension creeping up on you.
If it’s a particular event thats giving you bad social anxiety, think about yourself at the event before you go. Picture yourself there, having a conversation, having a laugh, chatting to people – this will help you to visualise your actions when you’re there. It is important to make sure that when you do this, you are feeling relaxed.
Often, when we’re anxious we are constantly looking in on ourselves. How we feel, how we look, how we sound, how we appear to other people. We obsess over how we are being perceived so we begin to overthink everything about ourselves… try looking outwards instead. Take in the behaviour of those around you, what they’re saying and doing, how are they standing or what are they doing with their hands? What is the room like or how is the view out the window?
Once you start focussing on other things besides your own worries and insecurities, you’ll start to relax and realise that in new situations, most people are a little awkward too.
This leads on nicely to this next point – mindfulness! It works wonders for people with anxiety and there are some really simple things you can do to ease up those anxious feelings. …
Mindful breathing: focus all of your attention on your breathing for one minute. Breath in through your nose, out through your mouth and try to let go of the thoughts which are bugging you. Concentrate on the sensation in your nose and chest as you fill your lungs with air and how it feels when you let it go. Once that minute is over, those worrying thoughts will feel a little less foreboding, guaranteed.
Observation: Spend one minute (or more) focusing on something in your immediate surroundings. Like the wind, some grass or a plant. Take in every detail about it; how it looks, what shape it is, how it feels, how it moves, the colour of it, how it stands or sits… you get the idea. When other thoughts creep into your mind, brush them away and concentrate solely on your chosen object.
Colouring! Nope, colouring is not just for five year olds (true story). The benefits of colouring are endless! Not only does it calm us down when we are stressed, it works as a really handy distraction from worries and anxieties, enhances our focus and concentration, increases motor skills and has therapeutic effects helping us to get rid of negativity.
….Try these out next time you’re feeling particularly anxious or tell us your own mindful techniques in the comments!
Try to take daily steps to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Start as small as asking someone for the time and go from there. Soon, you’ll be the life n’ soul of the party 😉 No one is born fearless, courage is something that you build up as you learn to manage your fear. Check out this article on social anxiety for more tips on coming out of your shell.
Don’t hide away
No matter how much you want to just hide from the world, try not to lock yourself in your room for days on end. As hard as it seems at this time, its really important that you socialise in real life and get a good balance between on and offline interaction. This can be in the form of joining a team, doing a sports activity or becoming a member of an extracurricular club.
With the internet at our finger tips, its really easy to visit digital hangouts and make loads of online mates. This is a great thing in theory, but it’s not doing wonders for our confidence offline with a significant rise in reported loneliness over recent years. It’s pretty ironic that as a society we are more connected than ever, yet we are in the midst of a loneliness epidemic! Don’t forget to come up for air to make some human contact from time to time! The more you do, the more your confidence will grow and your anxiety will subside.
Something which makes a lot of people anxious is a fear of rejection. Really, whats the worst that can happen if you get rejected?! Chances are, not much! The more we worry about what other people think of us the more we end up suppressing our true selves, and thats no fun at all! The best way to feel confident is to say “f*** what other people” think, embrace your weirdness and just do you 🙃
Join the Ditch the Label community and start a conversation – no judgement, no wrong answer, no wrong questions!