How to Talk with Others while Coping with Anxiety
Social interactions with others can be challenging for many people resulting in feelings of confusion and anxiety due to problems with communication and early negative life experiences. For those struggling with existing anxiety issues, interactions with others can feel overwhelming and can lead to social withdrawal and isolation. We have found that when an individual with an existing mental health issue begins to isolate and withdraw, their mental health symptoms can become more pronounced and a downward spiral of anxiety and depression can result.
Managing social relationships with adaptive coping skills can create strong feelings of self-esteem and lead to a decrease of mental health symptoms. Research has repeatedly shown that positive relationships with others leads to greater life satisfaction and significantly less physical complaints.
Social situations that others often avoid
Having anxiety can make any number of situations feel overwhelming. Common anxiety-causing scenarios include:
- Confrontations. Whether dealing with an aggressive coworker or a difficult waiter, everyone experiences occasional conflicts. As such, it is best to be prepared to initiate or respond to confrontations with calmness and diplomacy.
- Special events. Large gatherings of people are enjoyable for many and overwhelming for others, causing simultaneous feelings of invisibility and exposure.
- Business meetings. Job interviews, presentations, and meetings with clients all require the ability to keep cool and think on your feet – difficult acts for those with anxiety.
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Ways to Manage Anxiety Before and During Conversations
It can often be difficult to be present and grounded when in an anxiety causing situation and finding the ability to mentalize the other as a human being who is interested in you rather than seeking to create anxiety can be a challenge.
Some coping skills that people have found to be helpful include:
1. Don’t anticipate a response. Anxiety can bring out the tendency to contemplate every possible reaction another person can have to a conversation. Although planning what you would like to say ahead of time is a good idea, accept that the other party will eventually say something you don’t expect. Remember, you can only control what you say.
2. Use confident body language. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it,” body language is the perfect way to exercise this principle. By standing up straight, opening up your arms (rather than crossing them or stuffing your hands in your pockets), and smiling, you will appear confident; even when you don’t feel it.
3. Take your time. Nervousness can cause you to rush through your words, stammer, and misspeak. Instead, speak slowly and deliberately to ensure you communicate exactly what you mean.
4. Acknowledge unpleasantness. Some situations are unavoidably uncomfortable or unpleasant. A simple verbalization, such as “this is difficult,” shows candor and assertiveness. It also eliminates the temptation to ignore tension when you need to address it directly.
Learning to interact effectively with others is an important part of anxiety treatment – and one we help patients address at Bridges to Recovery. Our secure and judgment-free facility is the ideal setting in which to learn the skills you need to conduct yourself with confidence among others. To discover all we have to offer, contact us today.