Social Anxiety and Video Conferencing

It might seem like this is the hour that people living with social anxiety would shine, but the truth is that everybody needs somebody sometimes. Even if you’re socially anxious, you probably need a little human interaction now and again. Living in social isolation can be pretty trying, which is why a lot of folks are trying video conferencing for the first time ever. Even with social anxiety, you can get in on this happening trend, too.

Some Points to Consider

We know social anxiety is caused by all sorts of reasons, so not all of these points may be useful to you, but hopefully, they’ll help someone be able to spend more time with the people in their lives that they really, truly miss. Video calls can be intimidating the first time, especially if you’re telephone adverse, but they’re totally doable if you take it a little bit at a time.

  1. Remember that most people are looking at their cameras, not at you. You might feel kind of awkward when someone stares right at you during a video call. Try to remember that they’re actually looking at their phone or computer’s camera, not at the screen where you’re located. That stare can feel judgmental, but it’s really just someone else trying to learn how to use a new technology.
  2. Start small and with people you know well. Pretty much every smartphone is capable of video calls these days, though we may not have been using them for that until social isolation was mandated. If you’ve not tried a video call before, start with someone you really trust, maybe someone you see regularly in person, so you can get the hang of it. Even a five-minute call can help ease you into the idea of a social situation using video conferencing.
  3. Look at the camera when you feel stressed. If you’re feeling really insecure, try to look at the camera. It gives the person on the other side of the phone the feeling that you’re looking at them directly, and it can help reduce distractions or stress caused by facial expressions that may be hard to interpret. The camera’s unblinking stare can be a blessing in disguise.

What About Video Conferences for Work?

Oh, boy. You will almost certainly be asked to attend some number of video meetings for your job or your child’s school, especially if you’re a worker that’s been sent home to work there. You thought you were getting off easy when they did that, didn’t you? Sorry. It’s video meetings with the boss on the regular now, which may be a lot more intimidating.

Before you have a video meeting, check your equipment and adjust the camera angle so you’re comfortable with how everything looks. People will want to see you, so you can’t just put a bit of tape over the camera. That would certainly be the easy way out, but here we are. Get really familiar with the software by trying it with friends or relatives before you have to log into a meeting, that’ll eliminate some trepidation. For the rest, just take it breath by breath. This is a brave new world for everyone.

What tips do you have for surviving (or even enjoying) video calls? Share them here in the comments!

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Handling Emotional Burdens During Trying Times

One day, when your grandkids ask what one of the most difficult world crises during your lifetime was, you very well might say “the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020”. The news, social media, and personal conversations are all filled with phrases like “economic depression”, “social isolation”, and “media hype” – all served with feelings of fear, anger, frustration, and uncertainty. When so many people are struggling against the same thing, it’s natural for friends and family members to talk nonstop about their problems and worries. They sometimes do this without realizing that what they say might become an additional emotional burden to others, particularly for those who are sensitive to emotions, like those with social anxiety often are.

If this is the case in your life, you might feel stressed and overwhelmed with everyone else’s problems, in addition to your own. Here are some helpful guidelines for how you can manage these types of situations, now and in the future.

Don’t feel as though you have to have the right answer

If friends and family start venting to you, your first reaction might be to offer advice, but the thought of telling them what to do may make you panic. What if they don’t agree with what you say? What if you’ve completely misunderstood their concerns? What if they think you’re naïve, inconsiderate, or stupid?

If these are your concerns, you are most likely worrying about the wrong thing. Most often, when someone complains about everything going wrong in their life, they don’t want you to give them a solution. You’ve probably felt that way yourself when you’ve been in a hard place. Sometimes you just need to vent your feelings so that you can let go of them. What most people want in trying times is a listening ear, a pat on the shoulder, and a voice of encouragement. In most cases, you only need to worry about saying, “That’s so hard. I really feel for you.” Or, “I wish you weren’t dealing with so many things right now. I know you can make it through this.” More often than not, that’s all anybody wants to hear! They just need to know that they have a friend and aren’t suffering alone.

If someone does ask you specifically, “What should I do?”, don’t feel like there’s one correct answer you have to give. Remember that your friend has to make a decision on their own, but if they do ask for advice, it’s because they respect your opinions. They might not agree with what you say, but they wouldn’t ask if they didn’t really want to hear it – so be honest. If you don’t have any idea, say you don’t know. But if you think you can offer real help, then do so, knowing that your friend trusts you and values what you say.

Disconnect

If you’re spending a lot of time on social media, you’re probably inundated with posts and messages about your friends’ struggles and frustrations. If scrolling through your newsfeed makes you feel anxious and upset, then stay away from it. It can be incredibly liberating to log out of your accounts and spend a day or more detached from notifications. You don’t have to turn your phone on airplane mode and hide on the couch, but you can challenge yourself to disconnect from social media and focus instead on filling your cup by doing something you enjoy doing.

Say no

If a specific friend or family member continues to dump their emotions on you, it is absolutely ok for you to ask them to stop. That conversation can be hard to have in person or on the phone, so you could send a message or ask a trusted friend to help you. If you need to, don’t feel as though you have to keep answering their calls. There’s nothing wrong with protecting your emotional health when someone else can’t respect your needs and boundaries.

Hopefully, these suggestions will help you navigate the current COVID-19 situation without adding the burdens of others on top of whatever you’re already dealing with. We’d love to hear from you. How do you cope when another person expects you to handle their emotional burden? Let us know in the comments!

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Evidence-Based Complementary Therapies for Social Anxiety

Evidence-Based Complementary Therapies for Social Anxiety

Looking like an idiot in public can be a painful experience, to be sure, but for people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) the mere idea can consume their entire day. They get stressed out, start to focus too hard on the negative possibilities and this inevitably makes it hard to get anything done. No one wants to be embarrassed or look foolish in any situation, but social anxiety can amplify this fear exponentially.

Luckily, there are simple ways to combat and manage social anxiety. Please keep in mind that this is not us saying, “don’t seek out the aid of an actual medical professional.” but rather that these techniques have a scientific basis behind them and that they can work very well in conjunction with the advice of a medical professional.

No One Is Really Going to Care

We’ve all done something embarrassing at some point. It’s pretty much an inevitability of being, well… a human being. The thing about that, though, is that most people aren’t going to remember what it is that you actually did. It’s actually been proven by different studies that the majority of people don’t remember the details behind their daily social interactions beyond 24 hours or so. Unless you’ve done something that involved hurting another person mentally or physically, you’re in the clear after a relatively short amount of time.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a very popular, natural way to help people deal with anxiety and it’s often recommended by patients’ general practitioners. To explain it (although in a very simplified manner) CBT teaches you to manage your anxiety by modifying the way that you think and behave.

The logic goes like this; if you’re able to think positively, you can better prevent your mind from falling into a cycle of negativity. This type of therapy won’t fully eradicate anxiety, but it has been said by the American Psychological Association (APA) that throughout the course of the treatment, the patient is eventually able to counsel themselves.

Lavender

This one probably isn’t super surprising as it’s been making the rounds as an effective way of fighting anxiety for quite some time now. Many of you have probably at least seen pictures of lavender plants before; bright purple-ish color and smells fantastic – it’s pretty common due to how widely distributed it is.

It’s been used for stress relieving aromatherapy for a long time but has also had studies done to see if it can help with anxiety via oral capsules (supplements) too. For example, a study done in 2012 showed that 80 milligrams of Silexan (or lavender oil) a day were shown to help people manage their anxiety, depressed mood and restlessness. Even though lavender has been proven to help with anxiety, you should not take it without consulting a medical professional first, especially if you take other medications.

Magnesium

It’s been found that anxiety and the lack of magnesium in a person’s body tend to coincide with each other. There have been studies done that show when magnesium is removed from the diet of rodents, they begin to suffer from anxiety and depression-like symptoms. People who are more physically active (like athletes) are very prone to magnesium deficiency because the mineral leaves the body through sweat, but really, a lack of magnesium can be found nearly anybody.

While magnesium is easy to come by through many types of food – like beans, green vegetables and fish – and is safe to consume in supplement form, it’s probably not likely to help with anxiety if you’ve already got decent enough levels of it in your system.

Exercise

Exercise releases anti-depressants and anti-anxiety chemicals inside of your brain which can lead to you feeling better about yourself and more self-confident. The effects are admittedly temporary, but it’s been proven via studies that just going for a walk can boost your mood and help you shake off any depressive feelings. It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise it is, so long as you’re moving it can help you manage feelings of anxiety to some degree.

The two things to keep in mind about this list of treatments is that they can and do work to help people control their anxiety and that while they are simple and achievable goals, they are best able to help when combined as part of a greater routine. If running makes you feel better, then, by all means, go for it. But don’t substitute any of these methods alone for talking with your doctor or other medical practitioners.

These techniques should be part of a greater whole to help you be the best version of yourself. If any of you folks reading this want to share other tips that can help manage social anxiety, tell us all in the comments – reaching out to others can be a great help too!

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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