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4 Techniques I Use To Cope With Social Anxiety

13/03/2019

In one of my counselling sessions years ago, I was asked if I’d always struggled with social anxiety and after some reflection the answer actually surprised me. 

No I hadn’t. 

I’ve always preferred to stay in the house rather than go out socialising, that’s just the way I am. 

But what I’d forgotten was that at one point, I could walk out of my front door without having to plan it hours (sometimes days) in advance! 

Bournemouth Beach • Seaside • Summer Holiday

I developed social anxiety after an incident when I was 17. 

I was walking alone down a street when a guy came up behind me and tried to get me into his car. 

I’m not going to go into detail as it’s something I still haven’t properly worked through, but long story short I got away and phoned the police. 

Unfortunately by the time they arrived, the guy was long gone and as far as I know he was never caught. 

Since then I’ve struggled with pretty sever social anxiety. 

At its worst I couldn’t leave the house on my own and even when I had someone with me, I would be shaking, sweating and hyper alert all the time. 

These days my anxiety is a lot more manageable. 

I’m still very alert to people walking near me and can’t walk around with my headphones in. I had them in when he came up behind me and I didn’t hear him until he was right next to me. 

But I can now go out on my own and using public transport has become easier. I still feel more comfortable if I have someone with me, but with a bit of planning and the right coping mechanisms I can manage it. 

Bournemouth Beach • Seaside • Summer Holiday • Houses By The Beach

Google Street View

One of the things I still struggle with is going somewhere new. 

If I don’t know the area I start to get really anxious and I’ve missed out on quite a few opportunities because my anxiety has been too bad. 

Luckily Chris has been such a help with this, offering to drive me to any events I want to go to when he isn’t at work. Even if he can’t take me on the day, we’ll usually have a recon run beforehand so I know the area, where I need to go and what to expect. 

But before we got together, I did something pretty similar with Google Street View. 

I’d use it to “walk” the route I’d need to take using it, so I could pick out a few landmarks/points of reference. I find it helpful to focus on finding these, and thinking about which one is next. It helps distract me from any intrusive thoughts and also stops me getting lost. 

My sense of direction is shocking, I swear I could get lost in my own back garden! 

Music/Podcasts 

Even though I can’t have my headphone in while I’m walking, I use them a lot when I’m travelling. 

They’re a great way to distract myself, mostly from thoughts about being on the wrong train and ending up in goodness only knows where. 

Not that I’ve ever had anything like that happen, but apparently my brain spends a lot of time thinking about things like that! 

Bournemouth • Countryside • Sheep • Country Ruins •

I have a specific playlist set up that I use when I’m travelling. 

Music is something I use regularly to influence my mood, and over the years I’ve found a decent collection of songs that help distract and keep me calm. 

It’s not perfect, so if music isn’t working I’ll usually try listening to a podcast instead. 

Related: The 5 Podcasts You Need To Start Listening To In 2019

Phone someone 

This isn’t something I do very often, but occasionally if I’m on my own and I start to feel anxious I’ll phone someone. 

Usually my mum. 

Sometimes I need to just talk about whatever it is that’s making me anxious, and doing that out loud to someone I trust can be so helpful. 

It’s not perfect and sometimes when I put the phone down, the anxiety comes back. But depending on how I’m feeling that day it can help boost my confidence, especially when she reminds me of how much progress I’ve made. 

Plan what you’re going to do

This kind of fits in with the first point, but planning out what I’m going to do while I’m out is really helpful for me. 

At one point I had to plan out every single shop I was going to go to, which order I was going to go to them in and even what I was going to buy. 

Bournemouth • Countryside • Sheep

I couldn’t deviate from that plan (even if I saw something in another shop I liked) and if something went wrong or threw me off this plan, I’d end up having a panic attack. 

At the time we didn’t know I was autistic, so looking back at this now it makes a lot more sense. 

If I’m with Chris we can just wander for hours and it doesn’t bother me, but if I’m on my own I still need to have at least a vague plan. 

Do you have social anxiety? Do you have any coping techniques that help you? 

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4 Techniques I Use To Cope With Social Anxiety

11 responses to “4 Techniques I Use To Cope With Social Anxiety”

  1. I find myself doing most of these too. Especially calling a friend or husband while walking, I feel less alone x

  2. Where were these photos taken? They’re stunning!

    Before I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder in 2011, I didn’t have an ounce of social anxiety. I was one of the most sociable people everyone knew, I was always out (with others and by myself) and I honestly didn’t have a care in the world.

    I desperately struggle going out alone now. And I’m always anxious going to new places. I’m even anxious of going to places I’ve been before. That’s the thing with GAD, it’s just anxiety, all the damn time. Over something or sometimes over nothing at all.

    But I can totally understand why that encounter when you were 17 triggered these feelings – it sounds terrifying and things like that are always something I’m wary of too. Basically, I just don’t trust anyone!

    Great post Jade <3

    Jenny in Neverland

  3. Jade Marie says:

    They’re from Bournemouth in Wales ☺️ I took them when we went on holiday there last year ☺️

    I’m so sorry to hear how much you struggle now Jenny 😔 I sometimes think it’s worse when you just suddenly develop it, as you remember what life was like before 😔

    I don’t trust anyone either, which I find slightly upsetting as I used to be such an outgoing and trusting kid!

    Thanks lovely 💛

  4. They’re stunning photos! I’ve been to Wales once, a good few years ago and everywhere was just beautiful!

    And yeah having it hit you so hard was incredibly tough. I’m basically a different person now and kinda see my life as a “before” and “after” anxiety.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to be cautious of people though! I’d rather be cautious than TOO trusting and potentially getting myself into a bit of bother. You’re sensible and that’s always a positive 😌

  5. Lauren Brooker says:

    I love these ideas! I suffer from social anxiety and I find being able to phone someone I can be comfortable with helps me so much when I’m alone like walking to the bus stop or waiting somewhere x

    Lauren | itslaurenvictoria.co.uk

  6. I’m sorry that you had to go through that! I hope with time all those thing will be easier to do! But these tips are really helpful, even in other type of anxiety cases! Thanks for sharing them! – Love, Anna

  7. Great post! I’ve always thought I have some sort of social anxiety although it doesn’t seem as severe as yours (although it sounds like you’re doing great!) I’ve always been pretty shy around people, quiet around people I don’t know well and especially quiet in groups. Going new places makes me nervous too especially if it involves a task I have to accomplish and possibly needing to ask for help. Crowded grocery stores are the worst too! I usually just avoid them.

    Very relatable post. Thank you!

  8. Kirsten says:

    This post is so relatable. As a child I had no social anxiety at all till I realised how cruel the world can be. I’m slowly doing more things by myself too. I traveled abroad to visit a friend, went to town on my own etc. I will plan literally everything and that is fine. Music is a big help for me too. And some days I can enjoy myself without worrying too much. I hope to be more comfortable one day. I know I’m getting there. Good luck with your journey. x

  9. Boxnip says:

    I suffer with social anxiety, so when I have to go out to a hospital appointment (only time I have left the house for 8yrs) I do get incredibly anxious. On the outside I look quite calm and I will also be really quiet. Inside I’m practically screaming. It takes time to learn different coping methods and you’ve listed some really good ones. 🙂

    Sarah 🌺 || Boxnip

  10. Dax Munro says:

    This is a wonderful post Jade. 🙂

    I suffer with generalised and social anxiety. From what I can remember, it’s been with me since I was really small. It might be because my mum had postpartum depression with me, so our attachment to one-another wasn’t very secure.

    Listening to music also helps me, especially if the singer is digging deep into their own emotions and baring their pain. I also find that holding something small and textured in my left hand helps to keep my mind focused on that, instead of the anxiety.

    I would love to learn more about the things that help you. Reading about your experiences makes me feel that I’m not alone in this.

    Sending you hugs and positive vibes.
    Dax. xoxo

  11. This is really helpful! I too struggle with social anxiety and find it hard walking with headphones because I am anxious what I cant hear behind me.
    Thank you for sharing. Emma x

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Thanks for stopping by! I’m a twenty-five-year-old digital media graduate with a passion for writing and a desire to change the way we view mental health and autism. I’ve owned jademarie.co.uk for nearly two years now, and its slowly changed from a place where I would brain dump whatever was going through my head that day, into a place where people can come for help, advice and hopefully a bit of a laugh. I do occasionally come out with a witty sentence or two. Mostly by accident.

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