Social anxiety is something that many people struggle with, including those who are in addiction recovery. This is a mental health disorder where a person experiences extreme discomfort of being around people, doing normal things in social situations, and intense fear of being rejected or judged by other people. A lot of times, social anxiety can be a cause or effect of substance abuse.
Social anxiety can be a serious issue when recovering from addiction. But while overcoming social anxiety is a difficult part of any addiction recovery process, you can successfully learn how to deal with social anxiety in addiction recovery given the right techniques and support.
Often, the first step is to identify the source of this anxiety as there are many factors that might be causing you to be anxious. Once you can recognize these triggers, you can then slowly try to overcome this condition.
In this blog post, we will discuss 5 methods that you can try that work well for overcoming social anxiety in addiction recovery. Whether you’re just coming out of rehab or have been sober for years, these tips could help you overcome your fears and lead a happier life.
Tip #1: Take Small Steps
Unfortunately, there is no instant treatment for social anxiety. You can’t expect to get rid of this condition in one go so you shouldn’t force yourself to take on more than you can chew. Taking smaller steps will help you overcome your social anxiety at a more natural, slower pace that is much healthier for you.
For example, if you are uncomfortable with public speaking, don’t attempt to speak to hundreds of strangers at once! This could only bring a negative experience that will make you dread this activity even more. Instead, try practicing in front of a smaller group of 3 to 4 people you trust and you’re comfortable with then work your way up. Attending regular AA or NA meetings is an example of how you can make yourself get used to talking and being around new people regularly without the fear of being judged.
Tip #2: Participate in Group Activities That Do Not Require Much Verbal Interaction
One of the ways that could help you overcome social anxiety is getting used to being around people. If you’re not comfortable with speaking or interacting with many people yet, a great start will be to join group activities that only require minimal verbal interaction. This way, you can slowly get used to being in a group without having to directly speak with other people.
Some examples include joining a group hike, going on an art class or cooking class, or participating in a yoga or meditation session. Once you become comfortable with being around new people, you can then try joining activities with more interaction like book clubs or a local sports team.
Tip #3: Plan Ahead
Planning ahead can ease the pressure of having to deal with unexpected situations and prevent any unnecessary stress from occurring. This applies not only to talking to strangers but also to other activities such as attending parties or even going out on dates.
For example, if meeting new people makes you nervous try coming up with conversation topics beforehand or have some questions ready when needed. This way, it would be easier for you to maintain an interesting chat without feeling too anxious about what’s next.
Planning ahead can make all the difference between enjoying yourself immensely and dreading every minute of it. But remind yourself that you don’t need to strictly follow your “plan”. Learn to be flexible and brace yourself for unexpected situations or questions that may arise.
Tip #4: Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques
Being mindful involves focusing on the present. It involves letting go of future worries and fears and just being in the moment. Many people practice mindfulness through meditation and focusing on their breaths but you can actually practice mindfulness in all of your daily activities. This requires giving your 100% focus on what you’re doing at the moment.
For example, if you are eating in a restaurant, focus on eating. Don’t distract yourself with the other people in the restaurant like the other guests or waiters. This could trigger your anxiety thinking that they are judging what you’re eating or what you’re ordering. Instead, be mindful of what you’re eating by savoring the taste, smell, look, and texture of the food. Appreciate the ambiance and experience rather than constantly looking on your phone or watching other people around you.
If you find yourself being anxious in a public place, practicing relaxation techniques like breathing exercises can help calm you down. Try to breathe deeply and slowly to focus on the present.
Tip #5: Get Professional Help from a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center
If you feel that you are struggling with social anxiety while trying to recover from addiction, you might also want to consider seeking professional help from therapists who specialize in helping those with dual diagnosis. A person with a dual diagnosis is suffering both from substance addiction and co-occurring mental health or behavioral disorder.
You have to look for a facility that will offer you a program to treat both conditions together. By doing so, not only will it be easier for you, but having someone experienced handling such matters may ease some stress off your shoulders as well.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Morningside Recovery by Lighthouse today.