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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!