Daily Habits for Reducing Anxious Feelings
Social Anxiety Disorder is found in over 15 million Americans, and has yet to be diagnosed in countless others.
When I first heard of Social Anxiety Disorder, I had so many questions. Do I have social anxiety, or is this just being a grown up? How do I overcome social anxiety, will I need to take medication? Do I have to go to a doctor? What are ways to treat social anxiety disorder naturally? Do I need to change my entire lifestyle? What are some of the signs of social anxiety? Do I have to medicate social anxiety, or are there natural ways to “get rid of” social anxiety?
First off, I am not a doctor. I am merely someone who suffers from social anxiety, and I have seen results from a variety of ways, and I want to help other people.
As you can see, social anxiety disorder (sometimes known as social phobia) is very common. Some people will find great success in treating their anxiety with medication, and others will look for a more natural approach. I've found that no matter how you treat yours, you'll find the best success with looking at your daily habits and finding ways to improve your lifestyle. Small adjustments can have a huge impact on how you feel and your ability to handle social situations.
Perhaps the very best way to boost your mood and resilience is introducing exercise to your daily routine. Even something as quick as a ten minute run, or a fifteen minute YouTube workout for free will help get your blood flowing, and those endorphins into your system. When you move your body every day, it can become a habit. Exercising boosts your confidence, gives you more energy, patience, and helps you think more logically. Exercise can even get you out of the house and into more social situations.
Focus on Better Sleep
My second favorite “habit” for reducing anxiety is getting enough sleep. Sleep is important for everyone, but especially for those struggling with anxiety of all types. When you're feeling exhausted and worn down from not sleeping, you will be much less likely to be able to handle stressful situations than on a great sleep day. If you start improving your sleep, it will improve your overall mental health. It's like when you haven't slept well and you try to focus on something else, like planning your grocery list, or focusing on reading a paper. It's hard to maintain that focus when you're tired.
Finding a good nighttime ritual that encourages you to get a good night's sleep will help regulate your mood better the next day. I have found I get fantastic sleep after a nice warm shower at night, or after reading a little in bed.
Meditation is another big favorite of mine for treating social anxiety. It gives you a few moments every day to push all thoughts away. Sometimes releasing those bad thoughts are all it takes to get back to having a good day. Take five or ten minutes and don't think about anything. Forget your worries, and set aside all those negative feelings you have about that upcoming baby shower.
I like to take five minutes to sit by myself in a quiet room with my eyes closed. I focus on my breathing and focus on pushing away negative thoughts. If I feel or hear them coming, I encourage them away from my cleared headspace. I used to think meditating was so silly. You just think about nothing? How boring! But once I tried it, I really started to like it. Meditation has brought me such peace in some of my worst anxiety attacks.
Write in a Journal
Journaling is also a wonderful way to record your good days and bad days, which will help you find your personal triggers. Finding out what days are particularly difficult and finding a similarity between them will help you in dealing with your anxiety.
Start a Morning Routine
To find what works for you, keep trying different things that are good for your body or mind. I'm a huge fan of adding habits to other habits, so if I want to add a habit to my life, I find great success in adding it in after I brush my teeth, or while I'm making breakfast. Something I do every day already is a great way to ensure your new habit gets done. On those days when my husband isn't here in the morning I drink an entire bottle of water while I make coffee, and then make a list of the things I want to get done during the day. Starting my day intentionally helps me get what needs to be done, done.
Bonus Reader Tip!
Set Daily Manageable Goals
Setting small, bite sized socialization goals for yourself will help you face those demons of social anxiety disorder. Try setting small goals that are challenging enough to step a toe out of your comfort zone, but not so hard that you convince yourself out of it. Evidence shows that confronting situations that cause anxious feelings is one of the most powerful steps to overcome and succeed at telling that anxiety off. Social anxiety tries to tell you that your life need to be smaller, and you need to avoid situations that make us uncomfortable. Little goals that encourage you to stretch those boundaries will help you face those fears and minimize them. The more you step out of that comfort zone, the bigger it will grow.