This is absolutely the hardest part of navigating anxiety, but it is a must. Making a habit of avoiding situations where you are uncomfortable, such as sitting in the front of class, talking to a group of friends, ordering food, etc., will only allow the anxiety to fester and get worse. If you make a conscious effort to step out of your comfort zone, it will only become easier each time you practice it. This does not always mean your anxiety will disappear completely, but it will allow you to adjust yourself to situations that you would otherwise avoid. Although, it should be mentioned that stepping into uncomfortable situations should never put you in harm’s way. If you feel unsafe in any way, do not look at it as an opportunity to work on dealing with your anxiety. Stepping out of your comfort zone largely applies to social situations in which you feel safe in.
2. Have a close friend or family member that is aware of your anxiety.
Do not try to battle it alone. It especially helps when this person is with you a majority of the time. Let them in on what situations you are most uncomfortable in, how you are trying to deal with your anxiety, and let them know how they can help. No one is perfect, and it helps to have a support network when fighting your inner villains.
3. Find one thing that gives you strength.
Whether it is a quote, a picture of a cat, a stress ball, a bracelet your best friend gave you – keep it with you, or keep it in mind to use in times of need. If you are feeling overwhelmed, this can always help ease your mind and calm your nerves.
4. Focus outwards, not inwards.
Focus on getting to know someone - look at the colors of their eyes, the shape of their face, the sound of their voice. Focus on the color of the sky, the smell in the air, the sound of the wind hitting the trees. Do not focus on yourself. A lot of times, anxiety comes from overthinking, and keeping a damaging cycle of thoughts in your mind. In social situations, anxiety often has you focus on yourself – the way your voice sounds, where to put your hands, if someone responded negatively to what you said, etc. Anxiety may have you so consumed with what you are doing and saying that you forget to pay attention to what is actually going on around you. When you feel the anxiety creeping in, give yourself a reminder to always focus outwards.
5. Seek professional help.
Never look at this as a failure, but rather a step towards being who you want to be. No one can deal with anxiety alone, and it often runs rampant over the lives of those it affects. There are people who have studied anxiety and are aware of the techniques that help the most. Seeking them out can often give you your best chance.
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