Sunday, October 25, 2015

5 Simple Tips to Help Recovering Addicts Deal With Social Anxiety

Anxiety in Recovering Addicts

Is Social Anxiety keeping you from the life you want?

Most people have dealt with social anxiety at some point in their lives. Public speaking is a great example. Have you ever had a presentation that made you so anxious that you could feel your heart beating out of your chest and feel your mouth get dryer by the second. I think we all have.

Being a college student I've had to do my fair share of presentations in the last couple years. The anxiety gets so bad that it gives me physical symptoms, and it takes me an enormous amount of effort not to talk a million miles an hour. I wish I could tell you the practice has taken away my anxiety, but its hasn't. It's gotten a bit easier, but mostly I've just gotten better at public speaking and dealing with my anxiety.

Social anxiety can be a huge burden, especially if it keeps you from doing necessary everyday tasks. I can't even pick up the phone. Imagine how much not being able to talk on the phone can damage and disrupt someone's life. It took me over a month just to call my school to fix a problem with my tuition. Any longer and I probably wouldn't have been able to take the last class I need to graduate.

If you're one of the many Recovering Addicts suffering from Social Anxiety whether it be occasionally or all of the time I've gathered up some simple tips to help you deal with your social anxiety. Managing your social anxiety all starts with the desire to change so here are 5 tips to help you do just that:

1. Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

Knowing what exactly is causing the emotional distress is the first step to managing social anxiety. Anxiety has a lot to do with expectations and as a recovering addict most of us have learned to expect the worst. Figure out what expectations of socializing is causing you distress and try to remember that the worst case scenario probably won't happen. Chances are your fears aren't really rational.

Addicts with Social Anxiety

2. Give People a Chance

The stigma we've had to face as a recovering addict has become so ingrained in us that most of us have become just as critical of ourselves as our worst oppressor. We now expect people to be just as critical of us as we are, but we need stop judging people before given them a chance. That's exactly what we don't want people to do to us. Don't read too much into things, not everything has a negative hidden meaning.

3. Find Ways to Relax

You can try meditating. When I'm nervous before making a phone call or going to a job interview I''ll go in an empty room and sit in silence until I feel ready. If you can't be alone you can try controlling your breathing by taking deep slow breaths. A distraction can also help you relax. It doesn't just keep your mind occupied, but it will also take people's focus off you.

3. Practice Exposure

I know in early recovery a lot of us go into hiding and the lack of practice can make us socially awkward when we finally try to get out there. If you know your going to have to make small talk with people try coming up with good conversation topics before hand. I suggest starting small and working your way up. What's important here is to keep practicing and not go too long inbetween social interactions. You want to get a steady momentum going. Getting practice might be the most basic tip but it's also the most important.

4. Read Self-Help and Fiction Books

I love reading so it's only natural that I turned to it in my time of need. Reading fiction books taught me a lot about the world and how people interact with one another. It helped me know what to say in certain situations and if nothing more it made a great topic of conversation. Self-Help Books are self-explanatory. They have a lot of great tips on a variety of topics, I couldn't possibly fit them all in a blog post.

I recommend the Self Help Book Painfully Shy: How to Overcome Social Anxiety (click here for more info)

5. Remember Your Goal

Why do you want to be social? What do you think you will get out of it? Not being able to stay motivated is by far one of my biggest problems. When you're feeling anxious and you want to back out remember why socializing is important to you. Nothing will motivate you more than envisioning your goal. You also need to be willing to experience discomfort to achieve that goal.

I'm happy staying at home so it's hard to get motivated to go out and risk being uncomfortable. If you're like me and you really enjoy being at home then don't let our culture pressure you into believing you have to be social. There's nothing wrong with being an introvert just because that's not the way of life our society is promoting. If it isn't causing problems in your life (like it is in mine) and you're happy then you don't feel pressurd to change anything.

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PS. Please let me know in the comments what you do when you get anxious.

Yours Truly,