Were you the girl in high school with her nose stuck in a book? Did you include your pet cat when counting the number of close friends? Does the idea of meeting other mothers for coffee have you hyperventilating? Social anxiety is a common mental illness that affects approx. 15 million Americans yearly.
There are various reasons that could be at the root of your social anxiety. And depending on the reason, your saving grace might be slightly different. Do you relate to finding it difficult to cope in social situations that you are forced to attend as a mother or as a parent? You are not alone in feeling this way. Here are some confidence boosters that others have tried and have found effective.
- Look good. Feel better.
How you feel about your appearance can affect your levels of self-confidence. If you are worried about your hair, weight, teeth, or how others are perceiving you, all of this can add to your social stress and anxiety. It would be nice to get to a place where we are uncaring of what others think about our appearance. But humans are social creatures and will always be concerned to some extent with the opinions of others.
Choosing to improve in certain areas that you lack confidence in, is a good idea. A powerful move that can be an instant confidence booster is to work on your smile, aka dental issues. Dr. Garg, dental implant specialist, agrees, saying, “Maybe that promotion at work seemed out of reach in part because you feared you didn’t “look the part.” Maybe you consciously or subconsciously don’t smile as much as you’d like. After all, repeated studies prove that smiling is essential for human health and happiness and for social engagement.”
Give yourself a makeover. Purchase clothes that fit your current body shape and that make you feel great about how you look. Go to the hairdresser. Get a manicure. These little pick me ups add up and can help bolster you through difficult moments.
- Have a coping strategy.
That PTA date is looming, or that birthday party you had agreed to throw for your kid, and the nearer the date, the more anxiety mounts. Take a deep breath. Learning to cope with social anxiety is not about transforming from an introvert to an extrovert. You do not need to change who you are. Mastering coping strategies is about gaining skills that will allow you to handle social situations.
Having to make small talk is often what makes socially anxious people want to run for the hills. But like any other skill, with practice, you can become a master. Here are a couple tips from experts:
- Follow up a question with a why or a how. To change questions from one-syllable and to dig deeper, this is all you need. “Why did X happen?” “How do you do X?”
- Ask for advice on a parenting or school-related topic. Everyone loves to be looked to for answers.
- You do not need to do all the talking. Listening is just as important.
As you try out various tactics keep in mind what might be helpful for others may not work for you. Experiment until you find an approach that you are comfortable with.
- Be mindful and use rewards.
Mindfulness and giving names to your emotions can help you focus on the transitory nature of your feelings. You will better grasp that, even though you may feel uncomfortable in the moment, the moment will pass. Journaling both before and after a social obligation can help you tune in to your feelings. And being aware of your thoughts will help put them in perspective.
If you make journaling a practice, you can return to your journal entries and observe the progress you have made. In the middle of a social event, take a moment to observe yourself interacting with others. Note how the world has not ended and that you are doing OK.
Not everyone finds socializing an energizing experience. Many people would prefer a quiet evening with a glass of wine and a book. If you belong in this category, then chances are you will need to recharge your batteries after a socializing event. In fact, rewarding yourself for attending to social duties is a great way to make a dreaded event less terrible. Plan a treat for yourself immediately after the social event so that you have something to look forward to.