A couple of weeks ago, I put feelers out there, to see if you lovely lot would be interested in me doing a blog series, describing what things I’ve been doing to tackle my social anxiety and any exposure experiments I’ve been doing. The initial idea seemed to go down quite well, so now I’m putting it into practice.
Before I just go ahead and tell you what I’ve been upto, I first want to explain what I mean by “social anxiety exposures” to anybody that’s scratching their head in confusion at this point. Exposure Therapy is a common type of treatment for anxiety, usually used in CBT, where you face your fears gradually. You’re basically exposing yourself to the thing that scares you but in smaller, easier steps and instead of doing things like, avoiding the situation, running away, making excuses to leave, you stay in the situation until your anxiety level drops.
I love this kind of therapy technique and even talk about it in my free anxiety guide. It’s been a long time since I finished therapy but I always make sure I keep up with using the techniques I learned there.
Here’s just a few things I’ve done in the last few weeks, while tackling my social anxiety…
I’ve travelled abroad before, in fact I’ve been much further away from home in the past but it had been such a long time, that for some reason I became extremely anxious on the lead up to our weeks holiday in Spain. I had a number of anxiety attacks weeks before, mostly to do with the actual trip and managing to get to the hotel okay and also because of money. I am a constant worrier when it comes to money. That stuff is like poison to me. It turned out okay in the end though and we managed to scrape some spending money together and I definitely enjoyed myself.
This holiday actually forced me completely out of my comfort zone. First of all, I wore a bikini on my chubby bod in front of everyone at the pool and on the beach… something I was absolutely dreading. Secondly, I ate in the busy all-inclusive restaurant full of people 3 times a day, every day… eating around people for me is hard but being in a crowded place is even harder. Thirdly, going new places is a scary thing with social anxiety and when you’re practically somewhere new everyday, that’s a lot of exposure!
A big shout out to Fiona from Fiona Likes To Blog who got me seriously out of my comfort zone for a Facebook Live interview. I was kinda shitting myself beforehand but I practised dropping my typical safety behaviour of over-preparing for every situation and instead I took it as it came. This was a good decision! Not only was it very easy to talk to Fiona anyway, I’m starting to realise that the less I prepare for things, the more natural and flowy they are.
Lately I’ve been pushing myself to do things I typically find uncomfortable and one of those things is, going out without any make-up on. I hate myself without make-up and normally would die before letting someone see me without a full face of slap on but in the past few weeks I’ve actually left the house without a stitch of make-up on, completely bare-faced! This is a big deal for me, as some of my PCOS symptoms are embarrassing, making my anxiety really bad and I use make-up as a way to conceal that.
My take-away from doing this, is that nobody actually gives a fuck or notices my flaws. It’s definitely in my head that people are judging me all the time.
I’d love to hear what you have all been up to in the last few weeks to tackle your anxiety, feel free to post in the comments!