“I could message you when I leave, then when I get there. That way you know I’m there before I ring the doorbell.”
This was what a friend suggested in response to my last post about social anxiety. No. Do not give in to my anxiety. Please dont’ try to make it ‘easier’ for me. It doesn’t help. Providing extra reassurance will only make my anxiety worse, and require even more reassurance in the future.
I appreciate people letting me know what time they’ll arrive at my house. That’s polite, and generally expected. I also appreciate you letting me know if you’re running late. That’s also polite.
The anxiety I experience when people visit my house is something I need to learn to tolerate. Trying to accommodate it, and make it easier isn’t going to be helpful to me.
What will help?
Deep breaths. Slowing my breathing down to lessen the physical effects of anxiety. Deep, slow breathing makes my heart rate slow down. It allows me to slow my mind enough to think more clearly.
STOP worksheets. This specific worksheet has been helpful for me when experiencing all types of anxiety. It gets me to slow down enough to think through what’s going on. To begin with I filled out the sheet after the anxiety provoking event. The worksheet takes time and practice. Eventually I could do the worksheet whilst feeling anxious in order to lessen my anxiety. Now though? I can do the majority of it without actually writing it down.
Distractions are useful to a degree. I do find that it’s very important for me to look at the anxiety before distracting, otherwise distracting can become a form of avoidance. Looking at the anxiety can include doing the STOP worksheet above, as well as journalling or talking about what’s going on. Once I’ve done those things I’ll happily move on to distractions – TV shows, colouring, knitting, sewing, gardening, washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, other household chores.
Comfort. Anxiety can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s draining and exhausting. Sometimes curling up in bed with a favourite blanket, a soft toy, and a warm drink (no caffeine!) can be helpful. It doesn’t address the anxiety, but I’ve found it to be an important part of self-care when stressed and anxious.
Grounding skills as well as being great for flashbacks and dissociative symptoms have also been helpful for my anxiety. My most helpful one at the moment is counting backwards from one hundred in multiples of three. It takes a lot of concentration! Which are most helpful for me has changed over time, and I try to add to or tweak the list as needed. Having an easily accessible list means that it’s easy to find and use when I’m not thinking very clearly.
Please be polite when visiting me, ask if I’m feeling anxious, and ask how you can help, but do not give in to my anxiety by providing constant reassurance.