social self care: part 1

prt-one

I think the idea for the series is super important, because as a young adult you are thrown into a lot of social situations (be it work, study, friend related) which are often pretty daunting. And it can be hard to adapt to the different social requirements of various gatherings, especially if you have anxiety. Group contexts are hard, particularly if you are going by yourself and are not sure of how to ‘insert’ yourself into the situation.

I totally agree that social skills are not innate and something that you can nurture and develop! Obviously some people have more outgoing personalities, but it is definitely possible to learn and grow from each new social experience, and confidence is an ongoing process.

Advice-wise, the first thing is to acknowledge your own limitations. For example, I recognise that I find group events (e.g. private views) intimidating, so my coping mechanisms are:

  • Get in contact with a friend or acquaintance who I know might be going to the event and arrange to meet them there or beforehand
  • Try to rationalise my anxiety by thinking ‘what is the worst that could happen?’
  • Make sure I have a plan for going home afterwards
  • Phone my mum or close friend if I am feeling especially nervous about going into a room with a large group of people in it

For advice about replying to people through text or email:

  • Don’t pressurise yourself- take your time to reply if you are feeling nervous about reading or replying to a message
  • Perhaps write down what you want to text beforehand to clarify it in your head
  • Remember that the person you are texting will probably not analyse your reply in as much depth as you have analysed it whilst writing it

For advice on talking to people one on one, friend-wise and in a professional context:

  •  Generally, I’ve learned that most people are not as intimidating as they look. If you are nervous and this shows when you talk to someone, the other person will understand!
  • It’s a bit cliché, but just try and keep calm and be yourself. Remind yourself: WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY IS VALID and just as interesting as the other person
  • Remember that everyone has their own shit going on, so if you sense that someone is a bit ‘off’ with you, don’t automatically blame yourself!

Finally, if you find you can’t go to a meet up or are taking a while to reply to people because you are feeling really anxious, remember it isn’t your fault. Think of a close friend who you could confide in, and perhaps talk through things with them- or if you feel safe doing so, let the people you were going to meet, or need to reply to, know that you are finding things a bit hard. A lot of people find various social situations intimidating, some people are just better at hiding it than others.

by Lizzie

you can contribute to the series too, please get in touch with your tips!

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