Focusing on the Positives of Social Anxiety

Focusing on the Positives of Social Anxiety

For everyone out there reading this, you may already be aware of it, but social anxiety can be really awful to live with. That might also be something that you’re really tired of hearing, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s focus on the positives. That probably sounds really strange, and maybe a little insensitive to a lot of you – but hear us out – there can be some good aspects to having anxiety.

This isn’t you being told by some random strangers that having anxiety is great or a walk in the park. We are not saying that at all. What we are saying is that like many other not-so-great things that you might be dealing with in your lives, there is some positivity that can come from your battle with anxiety.

Anxiety Can Make You More Empathic

One such positive aspect is that anxiety makes can make it easier for you to empathize with other people. Anxiety can feel like having a massive, black cloud hanging over you and every facet of your life. It can invoke feelings of worry, and an overwhelming sense of being out of balance and alone.

With these feelings comes an ability to not only recognize these emotions in others but an ability to identify with them too. Often, when someone messes up or acts in a way perceived as different, it’s easy for people – maybe you may have even done this at some point – to judge them, but anxiety can help you be able to better understand or at least know the feeling of going through a period of upheaval.

Material Goods Don’t Mean Quite as Much to you

Think of it this way; many of us want new phones, but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t get your hands on one. You’ve come to a point in your life where you wouldn’t mind having plenty of stuff, but your friends and family – your loved ones – are what’s really important at the end of the day.

You don’t need to be a multi-millionaire or the owner of the Hope Diamond, you just want to have peace of mind and to have less clutter (be it physical, mental or emotional) clogging up your life. What makes you truly happy is having a calm mind, a happy life and all of your important people along for the ride.

It’s Easier for you to Meet People Who You’d Have Normally Never Spoken With

This positive point somewhat goes hand in hand with the first two. Yes, having your friends and family around can help out immensely. But, there’s no shame in admitting that it’s also nice to be with people who know what it’s like to have anxiety.

We aren’t aiming to offend, but look at it this way – sometimes, it’s nice to be able to talk to people who know exactly (or almost exactly- no two people have the exact same experiences) what it’s like to feel the way you do with little to no explanation. Pretty much everyone feels this way from time to time.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 19 million people have anxiety. That’s 19 million people who probably feel similar to you. It makes sense that many of them form support groups and other places of safety. This makes it easier to reach out and connect with people you may have never met otherwise.

You Can Appreciate the Little Things in Life Very Easily

Sometimes, your day just straight-up sucks. It sucks exceedingly hard. When something during your sucky day isn’t awful, it really stands out in sharp relief. It’s like most of your day has been boring, low-resolution black and white but then suddenly you encounter this one single good thing and it’s radiating bright, high-quality color.

That one brightly colored spot can be anything, and it doesn’t have to be big. It can be a nice dinner, someone asking how your day was or maybe running into a stranger and finding out you like the same show. It’s a small moment, but because it wasn’t bad, it really stands out.

Being Alone Isn’t a Big Deal

It can be hard to be around others when every decision you make can make you feel like Neo choosing between the blue and red pill, but both pills suck. Because of this, being alone probably isn’t a big deal to you. Between marathoning something on Netflix and being at a party, you’re probably happier with Netflix keeping you company.

You feel good with yourself and your thoughts and while company might be nice; it isn’t something that you really need. It means that you can be independent and while you don’t have to go it alone, it’s nice to know that you can. You aren’t quite on the same path as everyone else and that’s fine with you.

Again, anxiety isn’t easy. It can even be crippling at times. But it does have bright spots that can help you out with your everyday life. It doesn’t have to be all bad. If you’ve had any of these positive experiences with anxiety or even an entirely different one, reach out and let us know!

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4 Notable Figures Who Live with Social Anxiety

4 Notable Figures Who Live with Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can leave you feeling alone and isolated. Support groups, therapy and online forums like Social Anxiety Support can help ease these feelings but may not help if you need a role model or example of how to live with social anxiety. Celebrities and others in the public eye can and often do have their struggles with anxiety — and those that are open and candid about it serve as powerful reminders that no one is ever truly alone in their experiences. These four notable figures have all spoken on their struggles and triumphs in living with social anxiety.

Adele

British songstress Adele won a Grammy for her work, but the singer has been open about her severe social anxiety. In 2011, the performer told Rolling Stone magazine how she suffered from it, to the point of escaping out fire exits after shows to avoid the crowds and being so scared she vomited on a fan in Spain. Performing is a gift for Adele, and she works through it by remembering that those who come to see her are happy to be there. Still, she sets reasonable limits to help herself cope with her anxiety – the performer refuses to play music festivals because it would be detrimental to her mental health to be around that many people.

Zack Greinke, Pitcher for the Houston Astros

Men are less often diagnosed than women with social anxiety disorders; as a result, there are far fewer public figures who are male who speak on their journey to cope. When those figures are in sports, there’s often extra, added pressure to appear “macho,” enforcing a toxic silence that helps no one. In 2019, baseball player Zack Greinke, who is a professional pitcher for the MLB team, the Houston Astros, is one of the few men in sports who has come forward about living with social anxiety. In a game against the New York Yankees, fans further enforced the stigma of social anxiety by taunting the pitcher with personal attacks and insults. Still, Greinke continues to play and serve as a role model for young men who are grappling with social anxiety.

Donny Osmond

From childhood star to pop singer and actor, Donnie Osmond has enjoyed a long career in the public eye. Although performers face less pressure to appear macho than their sporty counterparts, there’s still the fear of rejection and pressure when admitting to a battle with social anxiety.

Donnie Osmond has been open and honest about his life with anxiety – admitting in an interview on the 48 Hours TV show, in the year 2000, that he suffered silently since his preteen years. As an adult, his anxiety became so severe and his panic attacks so frequent that he finally sought help. In doing so, he made it a little more acceptable to seek help for your fears and issues – showing that it’s not a failing, but a commendable step in taking care of your own health and well-being.

Jennifer Lawrence

Hollywood golden girl J-Law has been open about the fact that she’s had social anxiety since she was a child. Had she not struggled with it, we might have never seen her grace our screens in movies like The Hunger Games or X-Men. Jennifer Lawrence began acting as a means to try to overcome her social anxiety. Performing on stage – and eventually on film – helped her feel more at ease in her own skin and made interacting with others easier.

Her first mention of it came in a 2013 interview for the French magazine, Madame Figaro. In the interview, she admits to feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy because of her extreme anxiety in social situations. J-Law cited the support of those closest to her, like her mother, as a big factor in finding a coping mechanism that works for her.

Celebrities with Social Anxiety

It can often feel like you’re alone in dealing with your social anxiety, but millions of people are on similar journeys to feel comfortable – even if you don’t know it. From the celebrities listed here to other big names like Harrison Ford, Barbara Streisand, Lady Gaga and more, you’re truly not alone. In looking to the lives and stories of public figures with social anxiety, you may feel less alone, might be inspired to seek help or find new coping mechanisms or just find the courage to face one small fear today – which can lead to facing more another time.

Do you have a celebrity role model for dealing with anxiety? If so, who is it?

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The Grieving Process and Social Anxiety

The Grieving Process and Social Anxiety

Losing someone that you care about isn’t easy. Grief is a very complex emotional process that can incorporate aspects of depression, anxiety, and denial. On top of that, there are a number of social events associated with loss including wakes, funerals and even large family dinners after the funeral is finished. For those who struggle with social anxiety, this combination of raw emotions, social gatherings and other aspects of the grieving process can be almost too much to bear.

Fortunately, there are ways to soften some of these blows. Keep in mind that this won’t necessarily make the grieving process easier, of course. It will keep your social anxiety from making the process harder, though, and that can make a significant difference.

Grief and Anxiety

Anxiety is a common component of the grieving process, with many people experiencing what’s known as “grieving anxiety” that manifests with features such as worries about the future, restlessness, insomnia and even feelings of numbness. Having social anxiety can make these effects worse, as the stress that comes with loss and causes grieving anxiety will have a similar effect on your other anxiety triggers as well. In some cases, grief can make your triggers more sensitive as well, especially if you’re grieving over someone that you were particularly close to.

Managing Visitations

One aspect of the grieving process that is particularly difficult for those with social anxiety is the number of social interactions that come with visitations and funerals. The events can be crowded, and there are often expectations that visitors will come to meals or other gatherings after the funeral as well. While this can be difficult to get through without triggering anxiety, some of this can be mitigated by arriving to visitations early and selecting seating at funerals that is back a bit from the front of the room. This allows you some space and an easy way to leave the room if needed while still allowing you to pay your respects.

Ongoing Grief

Grief can be a drawn-out process, and the grieving process is different for everyone. When you suffer from any form of anxiety (including social anxiety), this process can be even longer. As your grief triggers some aspects of your anxiety, you may become nostalgic over times you spent with the person that you lost. You may even feel that you wasted too much time, weren’t a good friend or otherwise let your loved one down. The repeated instances of nostalgia and anxiety can prevent you from advancing through the grieving process toward acceptance, resulting in you grieving for a much longer period than you otherwise would (which can itself become an anxiety trigger.)

Seeking Help

Grief can make your social anxiety symptoms worse, and your social anxiety can increase and prolong the symptoms of grief. If you are unable to deal with this cycle on your own, be sure to talk to a doctor, therapist or someone else who you can trust. You may need adjustments to your medications to help you get past it, or you may need to start some meds if you don’t currently take any. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it; you’re not abandoning the person that you lost, you’re simply doing what you have to do to move on and keep yourself healthy.

Have you had to find ways to handle your social anxiety after losing someone close to you? What techniques worked best for you then?

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Reconnecting with Old Friends

There are times when it is difficult to talk to others, even those to whom you were once close. This can be painful, especially when you encounter old friends that you haven’t seen in a while. A part of you might desperately want to reconnect – but at the same time, you find that your anxiety makes that next to impossible. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome the things that are holding you back when your social anxiety is at its worst.

Benefits of Finding Old Friends

Reconnecting with old friends can have a number of benefits. On top of being able to catch up and see what your friends have been up to, the combined nostalgia and sense of connection that you receive from getting back together with a buddy can help fight loneliness and feelings of isolation. Because this is someone that you’ve known for quite some time, some of the awkwardness and other difficulties experienced during the early stages of friendship can be skipped. For those with social anxiety, reconnection can also provide you with additional people in your life that you already feel safe around.

Reconnecting Online

Perhaps the easiest way to reconnect with old friends while dealing with social anxiety is to make contact online. You can start the conversation with a short, simple message such as “Hey, sorry to message you out of the blue but I was wondering how you were, so I decided to look you up.” Don’t worry about revealing too much information about yourself or trying to come up with conversation points just yet. The hardest part is often getting that first message out there, so keep it short and simple when you send it. If you have several old friends that you’d like to get in touch with, just start with one and then reach out to additional friends after.

Exploring Common Interests

When trying to come up with things to talk about, stick to common interests that aren’t likely to be points of contention. Even something as simple as “Hey, do you still like football?” can be a good icebreaker and keep the conversation going. Remember that this isn’t a stranger, it’s someone that you used to know fairly well; there’s a good chance that you still have at least a few common interests, and even if they aren’t active in those interests anymore they can still be a good jumping off point.

Taking It Slow

Don’t assume that because you’re getting in touch with someone from your past that you’ll have to immediately fall into those same roles that you had when you were younger. Chances are you both have new responsibilities and new interests compared to days gone by. Feel free to just chat occasionally and allow a budding friendship to develop slowly. If they want to get together and you don’t feel up to it, there’s no harm in delaying. You can always simply say that things have been hectic or busy lately but that you’d love to get together once things slow down a bit.

Opening Up

If your old friend is going to grow into being a real part of your new life, you’ll likely want to open up about your social anxiety at some point. This can be difficult, and you don’t have to rush into it if you aren’t comfortable with the idea. Just be honest with them and with yourself and let them know that you’re telling them because you value their friendship and don’t want them to feel like you’re ignoring them or pushing them away. It can be a difficult thing to reveal to others, but your friend will understand. They’ve known you for a long time, and they’ll appreciate you being open with them. It may even make your friendship stronger.

Have you ever looked up an old friend and gotten in touch? Is there anyone specific that you’d like to talk to again?

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Service Dogs for Social Anxiety? It’s Possible

Many people use the phrase “emotional support dog” so frequently that it can get confused with “service dog”, but there are distinct differences between the two. Both are four-legged animals that help people, but that’s where the similarities end.

Service dogs have been around for decades to help visually impaired people navigate their daily lives by helping them safely cross streets and avoid obstacles. They can help paralyzed people by retrieving items and alerting deaf people to noises like a crying baby. They can also assist people who are dealing with symptoms of social anxiety.

One major advocate of service dogs for social anxiety is James Middleton, brother in law of Prince William. He recently attended a GQ Men of the Year event with his cocker spaniel Ella as his date for the evening. While Middleton wore a tux, Ella sported a black and tartan “Pets As Therapy” jacket to publicize a UK animal therapy group. “Animals can provide a sense of calm, comfort or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and toward one that provides pleasure,” he wrote on his Instagram page. “…developing a bond with an animal can help people develop a better sense of self-worth and trust, stabilize their emotions, and improve their communication, self-regulation and socialization skills.”

A service dog undergoes extensive training to perform tasks that its owner is unable to do on their own due to physical, intellectual or emotional disabilities. They can see obstacles for people with impaired vision, hear things for deaf people or pick up objects for people with reduced dexterity. They can provide emotional support, but their main job is to provide assistance for their owners. They receive more legal protections through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) than emotional support dogs and are legally allowed in almost every public space.

A study by Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine shows that overall symptoms of PTSD in veterans are lower for those with service dogs. Maggie O’Haire, assistant professor of human-animal interaction, says “we found that the group of veterans with service dogs had significantly lower levels of PTSD symptomology than those who did not. They also had lower levels of depression, lower anxiety and increased social participation, meaning a willingness to leave their house and go engage with society in different activities.” Data gathered from the study has secured a grant for a larger-scale study on the effectiveness of service dogs for both military veterans with PTSD and their families.

Emotional support dogs are companion animals that provide therapeutic benefits for people with medically diagnosed mental, intellectual or physical disabilities. Owners can’t decide for themselves that their pets meet these qualifications; they must have a diagnosis from a doctor or mental health professional, as well as a letter stating the benefits of ownership. There are nearly 40 conditions that meet these requirements, including anxiety, PTSD, and eating disorders.

Emotional support dogs are not required to receive any training before their designation, which makes people question their effectiveness. Without proper training, they may not behave as well as service animals, who know how to act in public. They receive fewer protections through the ADA, mostly only with housing and air travel. A home that says “no pets” can be forced to allow an emotional support animal, but restaurants and stores don’t have to allow emotional support dogs into their buildings. Owners can carry their paperwork from their doctors, but that doesn’t guarantee admittance into public buildings.

Determining whether a service or emotional support dog is right for you isn’t something that should be decided quickly. Talk to your doctor about your specific situation to help make the decision that’s best for your lifestyle.

Do you or anyone you know have either a service dog or emotional support dog? How helpful have they been?

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