Strengthening Relationships and Conquering Social Anxiety
Strong social bonds are good for your mental and physical health. The CDC recently reported that folks who have a strong social life are less likely to develop physical conditions like heart disease and are more likely to feel connected to the community.
However, if you have social anxiety, you may struggle to make new friends and strengthen your existing bonds. This is entirely normal, as many people have developed social anxiety in the past few years.
Working with a good therapist can help you strengthen your relationships and alleviate the symptoms of social anxiety. Additionally, you can experiment with healthy habits that are designed to alleviate isolation and help you form meaningful bonds with other people.
Therapy for Social Anxiety
It’s easy to feel alone if you have social anxiety. However, recent studies show that up to 12% of people will be diagnosed with the condition at some point in their lives. This means that you can find plenty of professional therapists who understand your struggles and are trained to help you conquer your condition.
Trained therapists can recommend productive paths forward. For example, some therapists specialize in cognitive behavior therapy while others have experience with exposure therapy. Finding a therapist who suits your needs and matches your personality is key, as you’re far more likely to continue with their treatment if you believe in their skills and are open to their suggestions.
If you do decide to proceed with exposure therapy, it’s good to know what to expect. In general, exposure therapy involves overcoming avoidance behaviors. You’ll be asked to complete simple social tasks, like asking a stranger the time or introducing yourself to your neighbor. You may also find support through virtual reality or be asked to call a restaurant to learn more about their menu. Importantly, these steps will be taken at a slow pace and under the supervision of a professional.
Making time to see a therapist is important if you want to improve your mental health and well-being. This is particularly important if your symptoms are severe and limit your ability to lead a healthy, happy life. However, there are plenty of people who cannot afford therapy and cannot set aside time to see a healthcare professional.
If your symptoms are mild, consider self-help strategies designed to aid with social anxiety. For example, you might consider anxiety-busting tools like:
- Deep breathing
- Eating/drinking healthier foods
These simple steps form a part of any good treatment plan and are sure to help you feel a little better. Regular exercise can help you meet like-minded people and join a social group that shares your love of fitness.
You don’t necessarily need to join a spin group or a sewing club to address your social anxiety. Sometimes, online communities can give you the support and comfort you need to start addressing your fears. Online groups can help you express yourself and find folks who share your passions, too.
Joining an online group can be particularly powerful if your immediate social group is toxic. Sometimes, spending time with friends and family can promote unhealthy habits like drinking to excess. This is a serious problem, as alcohol can cause health issues like GERD, high blood pressure, and stroke. Regular drinking suppresses your immune system and makes it harder to fight off illness.
Instead, commit your time and effort to an online community that brings you joy. This can take the form of a blog, social media site, or gaming group. Just be certain that the group actually helps you conquer your social anxiety. It’s all too easy to use your online group as a crutch to impede your progress when trying to become more social.
A strong social network can support you while you navigate life’s challenges. Having friends and family to rely on can be calming and may give you the confidence to grow as a person. However, there are occasions when toxic relationships threaten to undermine your progress and set you back.
Get started by setting aside time to cultivate healthy relationships with the people around you. Strong familial relationships can help you develop a sense of self-worth and help you empathize with others. Strong bonds with your family can give you a safe space to practice your social skills and express your fears, goals, and concerns.
You can develop the same social skills with friends. This can be particularly powerful if your family life causes distress. Try to focus on asking questions about your friends and find out more about current events in their lives. This takes the pressure off yourself and helps you build an equitable relationship.
Just remember to respect your friend’s boundaries as they may not always be available to socialize. This doesn’t mean they dislike you or think negatively of you. Sometimes, folks just need time to themselves to deal with their own responsibilities.
Strengthening your healthy relationships can help you overcome social anxiety and lead a healthier, happier life. Get the ball rolling by getting in touch with a trained therapist who can help you work through your struggles. They’ll likely suggest tools and tricks like meditation and journaling to help overcome your fears. Try to follow up with friends who bring you a sense of calm and joy, too, as these folks can help you take your first steps back into the world.
Guest post by Luke Smith
Tags: addiction recovery, behavioral health, crossroads health, lake county, mental health awareness, mental health facility, Mentor Ohio, northeast ohio, physical healthcare, primary care, primary healthcare, self care, social anxiety, strengthening relationships