You probably already have goals in your career or personal finances, and at the gym. But have you thought of setting goals to help you manage your social anxiety? One of the most crippling aspects of anxiety is the feeling of paralysis, the feeling that you have no control over your stress levels, and that you can’t even think straight to get out of your worry spiral.
Setting some gentle, positive goals can help. The main thing is to focus on what feels good, and not get caught up in self-blame or further anxiety about not meeting your anxiety goals. Think of your goals as part of your toolkit to help you manage stress and reduce anxiety.
Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Prioritize your goals
Think of situations where your anxiety is currently holding you back. Think of what you would like to change in your life if anxiety wasn’t an issue.
Maybe you find it difficult to stay in touch with friends or family, or the thought of making a point in a meeting makes your heart pound. Or you want to get fit but can’t face the prospect of joining a gym. Write down a list of two or three things you want to start to change right now.
2. Baby steps
Don’t set your goals impossibly high. It’s important to take baby steps and lower your anxiety by showing it who’s boss. And you can only do that by having a whole series of small successes. If your goal is to get over social anxiety by reaching out to people more often, or by speaking up at work, it’s more than okay to write yourself a script.
3. Remember to breathe
Often people who suffer from anxiety don’t breathe past the top third of their lungs. Low oxygen levels can increase the panic of anxiety and a feeling of being out of control which leads to hyperventilating. You can take back control by regulating your breathing. Breathe slowly in through your nose to the count of four, hold for a second or two then slowly breath out to a count of four. Practice slow, gentle deep breathing right down into your abdomen, and feel the increased levels of oxygen.
Include breathing practice meditation as part of your daily anxiety-reducing plan.
4. Write it down
Writing down your goals and tracking your progress is essential to overcoming your anxiety. It will help you identify barriers, tricky situations, and challenges so you can work out solutions to get around them.
Even more importantly, keeping a record will focus your mind on making progress and celebrate your successes. Every time you have a win, reward yourself!