Tips for Managing Relationships with Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder can make every aspect of life difficult, from holding down a job to just leaving the house if you’re having a terrible day. And it can have its most painful consequences when it comes to negotiating relationships. When it comes to dealing with colleagues, family, and friends, anxiety can silence you and stop you from reaching out when you most need support.

Here are some practical tips for helping manage relationships despite your anxiety.

  1. With Medical Support

Sadly, your anxiety can get in the way of getting the professional help you need to help manage and even overcome your anxiety. If anxiety makes it impossible for you to speak, it’s more than ok to write it down! You can email or send an old-fashioned letter or make contact through a website or social media. And you can write notes to take with you to an appointment. If you’re incapable of speaking, you simply hand your letters to the therapist or your doctor.

  1. At work

If you find meetings or business lunches difficult, you can talk to your manager and explain your condition, and see what workarounds are possible. If you don’t want to disclose, you can work with your therapist to build strategies for dealing with workplace triggers.

Try low impact ways of communicating with your colleagues, clients, and managers as you build up to being more confident with face to face meetings. If you freeze up in meetings, try writing down the points you want to make and do breathing relaxation exercises before you go into the meeting room.

  1. With friends and family

Living with social anxiety can affect your ability to make friends and to maintain friendships. It can lead you to isolate yourself from friends and family when you most need their support.

When the negative mindset descends, you may be hypersensitive to perceived criticism. Instead of getting caught up in self-doubt and self-blame, work out some simple strategies to keep your relationships healthy. If phone contact or face-to-face is too tricky, commit to staying in touch through texts, social media, or emails.

You might even work out a protocol with the people you’re closest to so they can help you when you’re in crisis. That could be a check-in if you haven’t contacted them for a while or a simple reach-out message if you feel incapable of talking.

  1. While Dating

Dating might seem impossible if you have social anxiety, but there are workarounds! If the thought of meeting someone in a bar or at a party fills you with horror, consider softer options like being open to meeting someone through your church, community organization or class. Consider using a dating site or chatting to other dog owners at the park. Don’t put pressure on yourself to meet that perfect someone – think of it as meeting new friends, not meeting Mr. or Ms. Right.

Be gentle on yourself and take it easy!

Recommended Reading:

If You Experience These Feelings Dealing with SAD, You Aren’t Alone

One of the worst aspects of suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder is the feeling that you are entirely isolated. It can feel as if you are cut off from the world and your inner self. Even worse that you have no control over the bad feelings and that you’re trapped forever in feeling anxious and alone.

It may be helpful to hear that even if you’re feeling alone, there are some symptoms that therapists have noted are the hallmarks of SAD and just about everyone suffers from them.

  1. The feeling that no one understands you.

When you’re in the grip of social anxiety, it feels like you are cut off from everyone and that no one can understand what it feels like inside your head, not even your therapist or your best friend.

  1. You’re trapped forever in anxiety

SAD transcends time and space. It feels as though you’re stuck in a cycle of perpetual anxiety, even though part of you knows that SAD doesn’t define you and that no matter how severe your current flare-up is, it will pass. Anxiety tells you that you are stuck and can’t move out of the trap you’re in, even if your rational mind understands it’s not like that.

  1. You feel like a fish out of water.

Chronic anxiety feeds on negative messages that tell you over and over that you don’t belong, you don’t fit in, that there’s something wrong with you. The deeper you get into this negative mindset, the more isolated and alienated you feel, and you withdraw from friends and family. A vicious cycle sets in to keep you apart and deepen the feeling of alienation.

  1. A negative mindset takes over

When you’re suffering from anxiety, you tend to look at the world through very gray colored glasses. Your brain’s default setting becomes irrational and negative. You can misinterpret things people say or do, even kindly-meant advice from your therapist or counselor.

That can spill over into feeling like a failure. You can fall into a spiral of self-criticism and self-loathing, raking over perceived mistakes and failures from the past.

  1. Overwhelming self-consciousness

Social anxiety can make you feel as though you have a layer of psychological skin missing. You feel self-conscious like everyone is looking at you and judging you. You worry over every little detail of your behavior, your clothes, what you say and what you do.

The self-obsession that comes with chronic social anxiety can make it virtually impossible to live in the moment and get on with enjoying life.

If you suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder, there are many things you can do to help your anxiety levels.

While there is no ‘magic bullet’ for anxiety that will make it all go away, there are plenty of alternative options that will do no harm and probably do a lot of good!

Click here to read about The Alternative: Non-Traditional Health Options to Help with Social Anxiety