I love a good action plan. There’s something really satisfying about following a plan day by day.
So today I wanted to share my very own 30 day social anxiety action plan.
Social anxiety is something I have struggled with my entire life.
If you’ve never experienced social anxiety it’s difficult to understand what it’s like, sometimes people think it’s made-up, or you are just exaggerating being shy.
Social anxiety is not being shy, quiet or introverted.
Those are normal personality traits that don’t affect the way you live your life.
For me, social anxiety manifests in group conversations, speaking on the phone, having one-on-one conversations with people and everyday encounters with the general public, for example talking to people in shops. It gets really bad when I realise I’m the focus of attention and that causes me to panic and freeze. This can happen during a standard conversation with someone and can be quite frightening, not to mention make me seem weird to the other person.
Social Anxiety dominated my time at university and consequently I avoided social interactions whenever possible. I would spend days in my room instead of going out, even just to go to the shops, and avoid group situations. If I was hungry but there was someone in my shared kitchen I would wait until they had gone before I made my food. I sat on my own in lectures instead of empowering myself to make friends and hurried out the door before anyone could spot me.
After uni, I reached a stage where I could barely speak to my closest friends and family without negative thoughts flooding my mind. It was so frustrating, I could articulate myself perfectly in my head, but whenever I spoke to someone out loud I felt so much pressure I had an adverse physical reaction.
That’s when I knew I needed to do something about it and I started taking medication for my anxiety.
I mentioned in my last blog that something tragic happened. It’s made me realise that life is too short to be scared of things. I need to take action and resolve my issues with social anxiety now before it holds me back any longer.
I know this won’t be easy, I still have a long way to go until I stop being so ‘awkward’ in social situations (by the way, don’t ever tell a socially anxious person that they are awkward, it really doesn’t help.)
I know a 30 day challenge won’t be enough to fix 24 years of anxiety, but I’m hoping it will be the catalyst for positive change. Feel free to follow the plan too, and alter any actions to suit your own needs!
Points to remember:
- Face the fear and do it anyway
- Life is short
- Confidence is learnt
- Be present in the moment
- Temporary pain is necessary for future happiness
- Good posture, eye contact and smiling is key
Day one: Practise good posture, head up, shoulders back, chest high. Walk slowly and purposefully.
Day two: Smile at everyone you pass by
Day three: Extend pleasantries with people you usually speak to, e.g receptionist at work
Day four: Practise singing loudly in your room, in the shower and in the kitchen.
Day five: Engage in conversations with people in shops “how is your day?”
Day six: Answer phone (if at work) or call a company up and enquire about something (at home)
Day seven: Call someone you know that you haven’t spoken to for a chat (bonus points if they intimidate you)
Day eight: Ask a stranger on the street for directions/time.
Day nine: Look at your posture in mirror and practise talking with hands.
Day 10: Ask someone in a shop for help and then engage them in conversation.
Day 11: Do a new class at the gym and talk to two people and the instructor about it.
Day 12: Engage a stranger in further conversation, for example asking for recommendation for a good restaurant.
Day 13: Wear a bold outfit/bright lip colour and engage people in conversation if they compliment you
Day 14: Engage a stranger in further conversation, for example conversation “you look familiar, did you go to school in Leeds?”
Day 15: Ask colleague to go for lunch with you and don’t take your phone so you have to engage in conversation.
Day 16: Go to a ‘meet up’ group on your own and talk to people.
Day 17: Speak to three people at gym/in a shop
Day 18: Feedback ideas to boss and speak confidently and slowly.
Day 19: Ask an acquaintance out for lunch and engage in conversation.
Day 20: Ring a company and make a complaint
Day 21: Don’t use the word sorry ALL DAY
Day 22: Ask someone for help at work
Day 23: Make enquiries on the phone to three restaurants.
Day 24: Go for food on your own and talk to the staff
Day 25: Spend lunch getting to know a friend
Day 26: Get your nails done at a salon where you have to look at the beautician in the eye and chat for half an hour.
Day 27: Go to a coffee shop and read a book for a few hours. Speak to five people.
Day 28: Go to a party on your own and make 5 new friends
Day 29: Attend another meet up on your own.
Day 30: Go for a night out SOBER and dance and talk to people!