Summer is filled with social events and gatherings. From backyard barbecues to pool parties and weddings, the warmer weather and longer days can bring about a plethora of opportunities to socialize with friends and family. However, for individuals who experience social anxiety, these events can also bring about feelings of fear, nervousness, and discomfort.
Let’s explore strategies for navigating social anxiety and social events during the summer season.
- Understand Your Triggers
One of the first steps in managing social anxiety is to understand your triggers. What specific situations or circumstances cause you to feel anxious or uncomfortable? For some, it may be the thought of being in a crowded space, while for others, it may be the fear of not knowing anyone at an event. Once you have identified your triggers, you can develop strategies to manage them.
For example, if you know that being in a crowded space triggers your anxiety, you may want to arrive early to an event to avoid the crowds or seek out a quiet space where you can take a break if needed. If the fear of not knowing anyone is your trigger, consider reaching out to the host ahead of time to ask if they can introduce you to a few people or bring a friend along to the event.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help you manage social anxiety. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment, without judgment or distraction. By practicing mindfulness, you can learn to recognize and manage anxious thoughts and feelings, allowing you to feel more at ease in social situations.
To practice mindfulness, try taking a few deep breaths and focusing your attention on your breath. Notice the sensations of your breath as it moves in and out of your body. When your mind begins to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath. You can also try practicing mindfulness during everyday activities, such as walking or eating, to build your mindfulness skills.
3. Set Realistic Goals
It can be helpful to set realistic goals for yourself when attending social events. Rather than expecting to meet and connect with everyone at an event, set a more realistic goal, such as having one or two meaningful conversations. This can help to alleviate some of the pressure you may feel to be social and allow you to focus on connecting with others on a deeper level.
4. Remember that it’s okay to take breaks
It’s important to remember that it’s okay to take breaks when attending social events. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, take a few minutes to step outside or find a quiet space to regroup. You can also try practicing mindfulness or deep breathing exercises during these breaks to help calm your nerves.
5. Use Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk can be a powerful tool in managing social anxiety. Rather than allowing negative thoughts to take over, try replacing them with more positive, supportive thoughts. For example, if you begin to feel anxious about attending an event, try telling yourself, “I can do this. I am strong and capable.” These positive affirmations can help to boost your confidence and self-esteem, allowing you to feel more comfortable in social situations.
6. Practice Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is a type of therapy that involves gradually exposing yourself to the situations or triggers that cause your anxiety, allowing you to develop coping strategies and build resilience. While exposure therapy is often conducted in a clinical setting, you can also practice exposure therapy on your own by gradually exposing yourself to social situations that make you feel anxious.
For example, if you feel anxious about attending a large social gathering, you may want to start by attending smaller events or gatherings with close friends or family members. As you become more comfortable in these settings, you can gradually work your way up to larger events and gatherings.
Navigating social events during the summer doesn’t have to be scary, use these approaches to help overcome social anxiety and take control of your summer.
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