We are well into September now, and Fall is upon us. It can mean many things like cooler weather, back to school, and day light hours getting shorter and shorter. September is also Suicide Prevention Month. With the high profile death by suicides that occurred this past summer with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, our society is still mourning the loss of these very public passings.
In our last post we talked about what it is like to live with Social Anxiety. Today we want to talk about how to develop some coping skills to help with that social anxiety.
According to Psychology Today, and this article by Barbara Markway, Phd, there are a few coping strategies that you’ll want to think about when dealing with your social anxiety head on.
- Realize anxiety is natural
- Anxiety isn’t reality
- Try Relabeling
- Breathe away anxiety
- Shift your focus
- Be willing to tolerate discomfort
- Tolerate uncertainty
Anxiety is natural:
To an extent, we all experience anxiety. We have fears and worries that sometimes interfere with our daily tasks and decision making. In general we all like to feel that others like us, and view us in a positive light. And worrying about what others may think, is very common in social anxiety. When these experiences start to become constant, or interfere with your daily life, is when social anxiety becomes apparent.
Anxiety isn’t reality:
When you have social anxiety and your thought processes are running on overdrive, try to take a step back. Try to clearly view what is really happening, what is reality, and compare that with what you’re feeling and thinking. This can be difficult to do. Our inner dialogue with ourselves can be our best friend or our enemy. Practice changing your negative, anxious, or worrying thoughts. When you start to change the way you talk to yourself in your head, your perception of situations can change, and you can learn to control your anxiety to a certain level.
Barbara Markway believes that anxiety can often be confused with excitement. That when we are feeling anxious about something, we can sometimes be experiencing feelings of excitement and confusing the two. Sometimes just switching the word ‘anxiety’ to another word, such as ‘exciting’ can change your reaction.
Breathe Away Anxiety:
Breathing deeply and slowly has always been a way to calm a persons nerves, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. When you start to feel anxious, very quickly it can build and become something bigger. By taking a moment to take some really long and slow deep breathes, we are forcing our central nervous system to tell our brain that we are okay.
Shift Your Focus:
Anxiety is centrally located in your thoughts, and our minds can become like a hamster on its wheel turning over anxious thoughts over and over in our heads. When people start to feel anxious, they usually focus on the fact that they are feeling anxious. And then it’s like an avalanche, building into more anxious thoughts, sweating, shaking, hyperventilating etc. But one coping skill to implement is shifting your focus to something else. What exactly are you doing at the moment you started to feel anxious? What physically can you shift your focus to , so that you don’t allow your anxious thoughts to run away?
Be Willing To Tolerate Discomfort:
Being uncomfortable in certain situations is completely normal and valid. Allowing yourself to acknowledge what is making you uncomfortable, and then pushing past it is key. Sometimes you have to weigh the options, is pushing through something that is uncomfortable worth it for the experience?
One thing that often fuels anxiety, especially social anxiety, is the uncertainty. It is uncertain how a social event will go, how a meeting at the office will go, how someone will respond to you. But this uncertainty is something that will be a constant in life. We all wish we could know exactly what will happen, or what to say, or how something will play out so that we can control our reaction to it. But it’s impossible to do. Accepting that you won’t be able to control everything, or not everything will go according to plan, is half the battle.
When most of us think about retirement, we think about how much money we have saved and invested over the years. Will we have enough income to live comfortably when we retire? We spend most of our lives saving as much extra money as we can, and being reminded by our banks and retirement agencies that we need to stay on track.
One thing that we do not seem to prepare for when retirement approaches, are the emotional and psychological aspects of retiring. You have spent your entire life working and having a career, to suddenly be out of that space can sometimes be a shock to your system and identity.
You were once busy all day long, and now you find yourself with endless amounts of time on your hands. People start to realize their lifetime goal of a happy retirement, has now become a reality filled with disappointment, loneliness, and often sadness.
This doesn’t happen to everyone of course, but for those who do experience this can feel the need to keep it quiet. They feel like they have done something wrong to feel disappointment instead of happiness in retirement. Everyone keeps telling them how wonderful it must be, when they are thinking how terrible it has been.
So how do you prepare for retirement emotionally and psychologically? According to the American Psychological Association and the article by By Jamie Chamberlin, there are a few things you can do to ease into this new lifestyle.
Finding part time work, or self employment is always a great idea. Having some sort of schedule, or side work can make someone feel like they are still participating in the work force but at a slower pace.
Taking up a hobby in retirement can be particularly rewarding, and can fill some time in your schedule. Have you always wanted to take up painting? Yoga? Cooking? Take a few classes, and see where it takes you!
Have you had a trip in mind that you always wanted to take but never had the chance? Start traveling.
The important thing is that as you prepare for retirement or are settling into retirement, you are aware that emotionally it might take some time to get used to. This is normal. It is okay to feel like you miss your “old life”. It is okay to feel angry, disappointed, and that you have nothing left. Retirement is emotionally like what your life was like before retirement, it is what you make of it. It is your mindset and your outlook on it. And that can always be changed!
Earlier in the week we shared a TED Talk about how to start a conversation about suicide. In the last few months we have had a number of big name celebrities die from suicide. Our media once again has become saturated with those who many of us look up to and their decision to take their own lives. According to Elana Premack Sandler L.C.S.W, M.P.H and her article on Psychology Today, there are 5 simple steps for suicide prevention.
Recently we have had a few tragedies in the media, with the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. It brings to light again, a topic that is so tough to talk about and often too late. Many of us know someone who has lost their lives to suicide, or has been deeply impacted by the act of suicide. Today we’re watching a Ted Talk by Jeremy Forbes about, How to start a conversation about suicide.
If you or a loved one are having thoughts about hurting themselves or others, we encourage you to call the Empact Crisis Line 1800-273-8255