Being a mental health nurse I have spent a lot of time working with people with anxiety. Teaching them how to use coping strategies and reassuring them that they can learn techniques that can help. Watching them put themselves in difficult situations to try to overcome their anxieties and fears, feeling a sense of pride when they leave hospital feeling ‘normal’.
But really, in this day and age, what is normal? I know a large number of people in my private life who have suffered from a mental health issue at one time or another, whether this be depression, anxiety and even bipolar.
Social anxiety is no exception. The feeling of not wanting to go out, avoiding social events, preferring to stay in and watching Netflix. It’s quite a common feeling, especially in people 18-30years.
When scrolling through Facebook you see meme after meme joking about wanting to avoid going out, not liking humans etc. and from the thousands of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ it’s obvious that this feeling can hit everyone.
Looking back, I believe I’ve probably had social anxiety since a teen. I remember a friend would ask me to go out after school and I even though I’d put on a smile and say yes, inside I’d be dreading school ending because all I really wanted to do was go home. I’d be fine once I’d actually get out with friends and I’d laugh at how ridiculous I had been, but nonetheless, next time, i’d go through the same scenario.
Recently I went to a work BBQ, I knew everyone there and they were all people I would consider friends, but yet beforehand I was trying to talk myself out of it, avoiding talking about it and dreading having to go.
Since becoming a nurse and having more insight into these sorts of feelings and experiences, I have started to ‘force’ myself to go out more and to avoid saying no to social get togethers. I think this is the approach I will try to use in 2017.
Say yes more.