‘In a given year, about 7 out of every 100 (or approximately 15 million) people suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder’. 
Social anxiety, or social phobia, is ‘a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations’.  The symptoms include: worrying about daily activities, worry or avoidance of socialising, low self-esteem, a fear of being judged, experiencing panic attacks, nausea, sweating or a racing heartbeat due to your anxious thoughts.
As I am writing this, I can visualise so many times I have suffered with these symptoms. The pounding of the heart in my chest as I go shopping, palms sweaty and hiding behind make up. I have developed my own coping strategies. When I go out walking I listen to music to calm my nerves. I meditate every morning to relax before work and when I need to face social situations. I write down how I have been feeling so I don’t overthink. Luckily I have a supportive family, friends and a boyfriend who help me, but not everyone is so fortunate.
Boris’s UK lockdown exit strategy is looming with many of us looking forward to the 21st June. From this date, nightclubs will be open, weddings will no longer have to be small, every limit on social contact will stop and restrictions on sports arenas and performances will be lifted. Life will return to pre-pandemic normality.
This may not be the easiest transition for those with social anxiety disorder or a mental health condition. The intensity of face to face or even group social occasions can be overwhelming, especially after the recurring lockdowns in Britain. I found that the social restrictions lead to many of my interactions being virtual which actually made me feel more confident. This meant that I could close the laptop when I’d had enough, sit back and relax without the fear of being judged. I was having big group quiz calls and not feeling half as anxious as I would have done if it was in person.
How can we help people with their anxiety post-lockdown?
- Be patient with people who suffer with anxiety or mental health conditions. If we can adjust to the new normal at our own pace we will and that’s okay.
- Ask us how you can help. It could be something as simple as wanting to be able to go to an occasion with you or knowing you are on the end of the phone if we need to call you.
How can you manage social anxiety yourself?
- Try different activities to stay relaxed, such as meditation for anxiety.
- Keep a diary to learn more about what causes your anxious thoughts.
- Try to visualise situations with a positive outcome, rather than catastrophising.
- Go at your own pace when adjusting to life post-lockdown.
What is the best treatment for social anxiety?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy which helps you challenge negative behaviours and thoughts so that you can change how you feel in anxiety-provoking situations.
In my opinion, this is the best treatment. The CBT sessions change your perception of social situations and help you manage anxiety symptoms through exposure to these. I was also able to discuss any worries I had from doing these activities and now have resources to use whenever my emotions take over.
Which charities does Givey support that help with mental health?
Mind in West Essex– https://www.givey.com/mindinwestessex
Mind in West Essex helps those who are affected by mental ill health, across West Essex, to improve their emotional resilience and lives. They aim to normalise talking about mental health to reduce the stigma which can stop people accessing the support they desperately need.
They offer the following services: counselling, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training; emotional resilience training; peer support; befriending to reduce isolation; bereavement work and community support.
Teesside Samaritans – https://www.givey.com/teessidesamaritans
Teesside Samaritans is a charity which works across Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Hartlepool. They offer emotional support for anyone who is going through a challenging time. They help everyone although their current campaigns are aimed at local men aged 25-65. Men are three times more likely to take their own lives in the UK.
To get in touch with Teesside Samaritans for support, use 116 123 for a free non-traceable call, or email email@example.com.
There are many more mental health charities to find on the Givey website too.
Follow this link to discover more: https://www.givey.com/charities
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