As someone with social anxiety, or social phobia, I struggle with social situations. Going to events where I don’t know people can cause panic attacks. I will usually make excuses on why I can’t make events, just so I don’t have to go and talk to people that I don’t know. Confrontations and public speaking; those just make my heart feel like it’s going to beat out of my chest, I start to shake, and I can barely speak. The fear of embarrassing myself, making a mistake, or that I will look bad in front of others can be debilitating.
So what does that have to do with parenting? Everything. Everytime I’m waiting to pick up my kids from school, my mind races; Should I say hello to that mom? Do they think I’m stuck-up? Classmate birthday parties; I want to be able to go in and be social but the whole situation makes me nervous and I find it’s hard to talk to people. I want my kids to have friends and be able to hang out with them often but even the simple task of talking to another mom to arrange a playdate can cause me anxiety.
So how do you manage being a mother while struggling with such an emotional burden? I’ve had these feelings as far back as I can remember so I’ve learned how to work through the knot in my stomach and my heart pacing my breathing deeply and just forcing myself to deal with it. If you suffer from social anxiety, here are some tips that may help you mange it better:
- Breathing: Try focusing on your breathing and take deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Deep breaths will naturally slow your heart and make you more relaxed.
- Challenge negative thoughts: When those negative thoughts that feed your anxiety cross your mind, understand and challenge them. Tell yourself that your thoughts are nonsense. You won’t make a fool of yourself. People don’t notice how nervous you are.
- Face your fears: To overcome fears, you need to face them head on. Take them slow and start with little things and work your way up.
- Make lifestyle changes: By avoiding caffeine, limiting alcohol, quitting smoking, and getting good sleep, your anxiety will lesson and get easier to handle.
When it comes to my kids, I want them to have a great life and great experiences and I don’t want my anxiety to get in the way. It can be hard but I try to be brave for them.
Do you suffer from anxiety, or social anxiety? How do you manage it?