Don’t get me wrong I love the snow, warm fireplaces, cozy sweaters, and hot tea. Oh and we cannot forget the Hallmark movies. I mean who DOESN’T love a movie that has no anxiety triggers and you can pretty much guess the ending before it’s over? My type-A, plan-loving heart skips a beat just thinking about it!
I’m not talking about that. What I mean is social anxiety…dun, dun, dun (cue the scary music)! I will fill you in on what I have found helpful and what science says works!
Getting to a good baseline
Knowing your anxiety and stress triggers is half the battle. If you can get a toolbox of strategies to use when the anxiety, overwhelm, and stress starts to creep up on you it will put you in a better place, baseline.
Write it down
Some that work for me are….making a list! I love a little sticky note, a list with things to check off. It is such a great feeling to cross off tasks and see what you have accomplished. If you are packing multiple children, food, clothing, etc. it can certainly be overwhelming. If you are hosting the holiday then triple that overwhelm. Now we are talking house cleaning, room organizing, toilet scrubbing PLUS taking care of your children AND cooking. Guuurrrlll, you are better than me. I would be outsourcing that! No thanks! Making a list can just put things into perspective and also help you figure out what you can do and what you CAN’T do. Hard stop.
That leads me to my next strategy to deal with anxiety/stress. Set boundaries and stick with them. That can be very difficult if you are a people-pleasing master, like me. The truth of the matter is that if you continuously stretch what you are comfortable doing to please others it will just leave you resentful and void of energy. Set that boundary and conserve your energy for yourself, and those little people who need you!
Deep Belly Breathing
Reminding yourself to breathe. Breathe in for 4, hold for 7 and breathe out for 8. Try that multiple times. I also like to repeat the mantra, “I am safe, I am loved, I can do this.” Find a mantra that works for you in those times and practice it so when the anxiety/stress hit you know right what to do. There has been much research done supporting belly breathing for lowering heart rate.
Steer clear of catastrophizing and story-telling.
We have all done it one way or another. You take a small situation like you getting a headache that just won’t quit. Before you know it, you have diagnosed yourself with brain cancer and you have 2 months to live. Once you stop Googling things you realize that you are about to get your period and …YUP, this is the headache you get every month right before the menses begin. How fun. That would be a perfect example of catastrophizing.
The stories we tell ourselves
Story-telling is more like this. You are at work, walking by a group of people talking, and swear someone gives you a weird look. Now all you can think of is the fact that Susan looked at you funny so they all MUST have been talking about you. Back, back, back it up. The reality is, they probably were NOT talking about you, you just happened to walk by.
A lesson from Alexis
One of my favorite things to think of when this happens is a line from Schitt’s Creek. When David is going to get his driver’s license. He is soooo worried about what the instructor will say and do and Alexis tells him, “This doesn’t matter, no one cares.” She goes on to say, “People aren’t thinking about you the way you are thinking about you.” I CANNOT agree more with this statement. It really resonated with me and I think it does with A LOT of women. We are our own worst enemies sometimes. So to keep it light, remember….People aren’t thinking about you, the way that you are thinking about yourself.
In short, who gives a crap what other people think?! Do what you feel best about because you are the one that has to live with you. You cannot control other people or situations, you can only control your reaction.
I hope you found some of these strategies useful. And if not, maybe you just feel validated and like someone else is in it with you. Sometimes that is enough also.