Tag Archives: stress

How to Overcome Social Anxiety

anxiety_FinalWhat does an anxiety attack feel like? Have you ever wondered if you were having an anxiety attack? If you have never had one, it can be really hard to relate to what someone is going through who might be experiencing one. As a parent, I have witnessed anxiety in many forms – all made me feel helpful in witnessed the actual angst being felt. Worse yet, none were easy for me to fully understand enough to be as helpful as I might have been, had I been more informed. And, honestly, nothing hurts more than being a helpless mom when a loved one is having an all-out panic attack and needs you most!

For us, it was thunderstorms. The sound of thunder alone would be enough to make my son visibly shake from anxiety. I’m not talking loud, powerful roars of house-shaking thunder, either. Any thunder – even a light rumble, would send him into pure panic mode, and there was little I could do to reassure him of his safety. It didn’t stop there, though. Then it was the sound of fire alarms. Yes, the ones that must be tested each month while the kids are in school – those fire alarms. Even though they were just a “test” – and he knew they were – the loud sounds would set him off. It wasn’t the fear of possible fire, either. It was the fear of that loud alarm that would go straight through his spine and cause his entire body to shake, break out in a cold sweat, and result in an upset stomach and sometimes even a headache. How could this poor child learn with these kinds of distractions thrown at him at any given moment, throughout each day? How could he focus on anything at all – let alone school? As his mom, I had to figure it out, and learn more about ways I could help him through it all. I researched, bought and read a ton of books, talked to the school counselors and teachers, psychologists, and then researched some more. His constant worry and anxiety needed to be acknowledged, and together we needed to work through it.

What I learned was that my son wasn’t alone, and that anxiety disorder was much more common that I realized. I also learned that it affected adults and kids alike, and that many of the strategies offered for adults, also worked on kids (and vice versa). I instinctively (and thankfully) was compassionate to know that everyone’s feelings are “real”, no matter how much we do or do not understand them. Feelings are just that – how you FEEL. Nobody has the right to tell you that your feelings are WRONG. So, all I knew to do was to hug and hold my son in his times of need. And of course, that helped some – but what about the times I wasn’t there? The times he was at school, and would have to figure it out without me?

I worked hard explore ways that would specifically help him out. More importantly, I need to find ways to help him help himself, so that he would be able to self-comfort when I wasn’t around! I found some really great articles with sound and simple advice on how to help my son – and others, overcome anxiety. Over time, I realized that my son’s anxiety transcended other areas – beyond just loud noise. They would occur in social situations, too. While most of what I learned was applicable to any panic-laden situation, social anxiety was something that you could actually prepare for in advance, and an area I have blogged about before. Panic can come in other areas, too. Chaotic environments or areas of disorganization can cause anxiety. Areas of overwhelm often stem from a lack of organization or structure, so putting simple structures in place can really help prevent stress and anxiety in the first place. Even doing something as simple as theming your days can help you get organized, create more focus and prevent an otherwise would-be panic attack.

In summary, anxiety attacks are very real, and very much occur in everyday life, at any time, and at any age. Recognizing them, validating the fact that the person experiencing them isn’t “broken”, and doing what you can to help comfort them during their time of crisis is crucial. Once you’re aware of the potential for anxiety attacks, it’s important to prepare and explore preventative measures, such as being socially prepared BEFORE any social situation occurs, or being organized to prevent chaos and overwhelm before it even happens!

If you know anyone that might benefit from this information, please share this information. Why? Because you can’t apply knowledge that you don’t otherwise have!

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Stress and Anxiety

5 Ways to Get a Grip on Social Stress and Anxiety

Sometimes social situations can be scary. When people are placed in situations where they are uncomfortable, such as a large conference or room of people full of complete strangers – whether a social function or business – it can cause a bit of social stress and anxiety. Now, I’m not a professional psychologist by any means, but I have been in hundreds of social situations, large and small, for fun and business, and I’ve learned ways to break the ice and feel better about entering these kinds of situations. I am no longer fearful of them, but instead, often look forward to them! By sharing these 5 ways to deal with the scary feelings that can come from social stress anxiety, I hope you can learn to love being placed in social situations – even if only once in a while!

1. The best way to feel comfortable around a group of strangers is by getting to know them. Ask them lots of questions! Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so give them the opportunity to do just that, get to know them at the same time, and ease your nerves – all simultaneously! If you know your audience in advance, do a little research ahead of time so you can ask them more targeted and relevant questions. Here are a few questions that can help get your started:

  • What do you do for a living?
  • What do you love most about what you do for a living?
  • How long have you worked there?
  • What is your biggest challenge in your line of work?
  • What is it like working there?
  • Where do you work?
  • How long have you been in that line of business?
  • How did you learn to do such and such?
  • Do you have any mentors? How did you find meet them?
  • Do you work every day? What are your workdays like?
  • How many people do you work with?
  • How do you handle your work/life balance?

2. Give out genuine compliments. Everyone loves a compliment, so find ways to compliment people – but only genuine compliments! People can spot a snake from a mile away – be honest and genuine in your compliment, and they’ll appreciate it and be more likely to remember you. You can easily do this by looking at those people nearest you, searching for ways to compliment them. Better yet, you can compliment them AND ask a question all at the same time (double bonus!). To get your started, because I’m good like that, here are some examples:

  • Wow, that suit is amazing!
  • Where do you get your hair done? It looks incredible!
  • You’re a really great speaker/presenter!
  • Wow, this is a great business card!
  • Your kids are so well-mannered!
  • Your ideas are brilliant, how do you think so quick on your feet like that?
  • This event / party / dinner is so organized, your event planning skills are flawless!

3. Do the uncomfortable more often. I know, this sounds counter intuitive, doesn’t it? The idea here is that, the more you put yourself into these uncomfortable situations, the better you’ll become at dealing with them. I know this works because I’ve done it myself! When I was a kid in elementary school, I was so completely afraid of public speaking that I’d shake (literally) from nerves just at the thought of my teacher calling on me in the classroom in front of all the other kids in class. It didn’t matter if I knew the answer or not – I didn’t want to have to SAY it in front of all those other kids! It was absolutely terrifying to me! Fast forward to my early college days, when I was a completely broke college student who joined the Army National Guard to help me pay for my schooling. During basic training, I was given the reigns of “platoon guide”. What this meant was that not only did I have to stand in front of the entire platoon each day (about 40 people) and report – IN FRONT OF ALL OF THEM – on the status to my drill sergeant, I also had to march the entire platoon places, and – get this, SING CADENCES while running in step with them. I had to stand to their left side, while they were all able to stand in columns and rows nicely and neatly. I stood out – something I did NOT ever like to do! I preferred to blend in and never to be really “noticed”, because I had some social stress and anxiety going on! But you know what? I did it! And after my 8 weeks of Army basic training, I was a flippin’ rock star! Ok, maybe that’s taking it too far – but I sure FELT like a rock star. My confidence was through the roof because I was forced to face my fear every. single. day. And to do that for 8 weeks straight? It completely worked! I now speak in front of crowds of hundreds and am FINE with it! Pretty cool, right? If I can do it, you can do it, too – heck, probably even better than me!

4. Use the power of positive thinking to counteract those negative and scary feelings! Before you head into a socially stressful situation, use positive self-talk to get your head in a better place. Let’s face it, most of the reasons we have social stress and anxiety stem from our fears of what others will think of us. We worry about how our looks will be perceived by others, how we speak in front of others, and ultimately – whether we’ll be accepted or rejected by others. But if you think long and hard about all the social situations you’ve ever been in, I bet you’ll realize that those who walk around with the most confidence are the ones that are admired most – regardless of what they are wearing or how they look! Don’t get me wrong, study after study indicates that “first impressions” are a BIG deal (especially in business situations), so your business convention might not be the right tine to try out those new leopard leggings you bought, but if you wanted to try them out in a fun social settting – go for it! Just be sure you walk around with loads of confidence – even if you have to FAKE it! You can do this, too, and it really does work – I’m living proof! I have done this (minus the leopard leggings), where I psyched myself up in a positive thinking way ahead of time, and really talked myself into an “even if they DON’T like me – who cares? It isn’t the end of the world” mindset. Then, I applied many of the principles I’m telling you about here, and it worked out just fine. Really! I am actually still completely alive and well – I have survived every single social situation I’ve ever been in! Yep, it’s true. Amazing, right?!

5. Relieving stress ahead of time can really help, too! For me, one of the biggest relievers of stress is to lift heavy weights. Really! If I can go to the gym and get even a solid 30 minute workout in (not just a walk on the treadmill kind of workout – for me, it has to be solid weights!), my entire body relaxes afterwards! For you, maybe the key is yoga, or a run. Whatever you do, make sure that your stress release is a healthy one – don’t chug a bottle of rum beforehand, that’s all I’m saying. Eat healthy, get plenty of rest, and do something that allows your entire body to relax! You’ll be setting yourself up to be in the best mindset possible, and you’ll walk into your upcoming social situation surprising even yourself with how well you will handle it!

What are some of the scariest social situations you have ever had to face? I’d love to hear about them, and to know if they happen more as an adult, or more as a child!

How to Lower Your Stress Through A “Brain Dump”

Have you ever felt so completely stressed that you could almost explode? Maybe you felt crazy overwhelmed and didn’t know how in the HECK you would EVER “get it all done”!? We live in some really fast-paced times, I know! Sometimes we just need to take a step back, and think about all that we really feel we “have” to do. The best way I know of to do this is through something I call a “brain dump”. This is where you take that entire “to-do” list that is sitting in your brain, and you literally dump it out onto something else! It has to be written down so that it’s tangible, though. You can use a good, old-fashioned paper and pencil, or you can use your smartphone, PC, iPad, or whatever is easiest and works best for you. For now, what you use doesn’t matter, simply the act of DOING it matters.

Did you know that there is research-based evidence behind the “brain dump” method? Having so much “stuff” in our heads can actually cause stress and anxiety, and just the physical act of writing it down can help take some of the stress away. Who knew, right?

There are a gazillion new apps released every day, but my current favorite is Wunderlist (free!). I love Wunderlist (and I’m not affiliated in any way) because it is easy, and I have it on my iPad, Smartphone and desktop computers (it syncs across all devices, so I have no excuse to not be on top of my “to-do’s”!). Wunderlist = Success Bliss BOMB!

How I do my Brain Dump

We are all individuals, and what works for one person may not work as well for another. I love my system, and it works really well for ME, because it’s simple, and I have easy, quick access to it ALL THE TIME (important!!). Maybe you already have a solid app that you use, and you like. Great, I’m not saying you have to change – do what works best for YOU! If paper and pencil (in a notebook that you can carry around with you!!) work best for you – fantastic! Then that’s what you should use!

If you’re just not sure what system you want to use, though, copy what I’m doing, and then gradually tweak it to meet your needs! Just remember, perfectionism slows down ACTION. You need to DO. Once you DO, you can upgrade and enhance to make it fit YOU best.

Step 1:

Go to www.Wunderlist.com from your computer, and create an account.

OR

Go to your App Store and search “Wunderlist”. Download the free app once you find it, and create an account.

You can do this from your Smartphone , iPad, and/or desktop computer! Did I already mentioned I have it on ALL of my devices? I have ZERO (zilch, nada, NULL SET, baby!) excuses for not getting my “to-do’s” DONE. And, since the app is based on your login, it is synced up across all of your devices, so it is always current, no matter which device you are using it from. Yesss – big “thank you” to cloud computing!

Step 2:

Once you have your account set up, you’ll see some pre-made folders for you on the left side. I redid them into my own preferences by simply clicking on one, then backspacing the title, and replacing it with my own.

The BIGGEST recommendation I can give you is to set up a “TODAY”, “THIS WEEK” and “SOON” folder system, to start.

Step 3:

For NOW, just do your brain dump in the “soon” folder. Once you have everything captured, you can move it into the appropriate folder (because Wunderlist allows you to move items between folders, too!). Don’t worry too much about that for now, though. Honestly just the act of getting it all down and in-writing will be an amazing start. And you have to capture EVERYTHING. Once you have it all IN WRITING, it allows your brain to “let it go”, resulting in a more calm disposition (less stress).

The key is to NOT stress about this list, we’ll bring order to the chaos later, I promise. All you need to do is dump, dump, dump those “to-do” lists out and save. I’ll provide more information on how we bring that chaos to order in an upcoming post (resulting in even more “calming” of our stress and anxiety levels – yay!).