If you struggle with social anxiety and bipolar disorder, the very idea of walking into a room full of strangers may instill terror in your every thought. Try these strategies to help overcome your fears of the dreaded social outing:
Keep calm and relax
Try some relaxation techniques before you leave the house in order to start off in control. Listen to soft music while calming yourself with deep breathing exercises. It helps to visualize yourself in conversations with others and seeing yourself remain calm and happy talking to someone new. Try to change your thinking to seeing each social interaction as an opportunity to learn something from someone interesting.
Keep calm and get excited
Depending on what the outing is, maybe it makes more sense to get excited before you leave. Put yourself in a positive and adventurous mood by turning your stereo up; if you’re feeling up to it, maybe even dance a little or sing along. On the way to the party, listen to a comedy podcast to really get you in the spirit.
Go with a friend or a group of friends that make you feel good
Meeting up with confidence-building friends and going to an event together could help you to have a positive experience. Getting rid of anxiety attached to self-esteem or self- image issues will also build confidence and make it easier to go to the next event alone.
Create helpful mantras
As you go into an event, increase your confidence with empowering self-talk. Some examples are: “I’m interesting and fun to be with,” “The world is a friendly place,” “People like hanging out with me.” Try to remember, people have their own concerns and are not likely judging you. Enjoy yourself by not overthinking what others may be concerned with; for all you know they just find you intriguing.
Go in with a plan
You may tend to feel as though you don’t belong at an event; it’s common to obsess about who is looking at you and whether or not you’re dressed appropriately. Why not take a lighter approach and tell yourself that “you look great and there is no pressure because no one is judging you.” Focus on the people you are most comfortable with and put your attention on your friends instead of how you look.
When you arrive at an event, interact with someone right away, even if it’s only a 30-second exchange of polite introductions. The longer you put off conversation the harder it becomes and your mind starts with negative self-talk and before you know it, you are a wallflower and feeling uncomfortable.
Let the conversation flow naturally
A great conversation doesn’t always start off that way; although you may not want to work it to death, a good conversation often takes a little massaging to get it flowing. If it doesn’t work out, try not to be too hard on yourself, remembering that it takes two for that to happen. Don’t be afraid to make light of an uncomfortable moment through humor—always a good idea to ease awkward social interactions.
Follow your heart
Sincerity can be a conversation soother. Ask thoughtful questions and respond more to the things that also interest you; the person you are engaged with will then pick up on this and open up more. Honesty and opening your heart will attract like-minded people.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community