Anxiety can be a debilitating feeling, and it may seem to amplify when being around people.
Although public anxiety is something that millions of people suffer from, it can be a challenge to manage it effectively. If you’re struggling with anxiety, you might find comfort in knowing that there are techniques that can help manage the symptoms.
In this blog post, we’ll explore four ways to tackle and manage your anxiety in public.
Practice deep breathing
Deep breathing is a technique that can help calm your body’s physical responses to anxiety. When you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try taking slow, deep breaths. This process can help you focus and relax your mind in stressful situations. Additionally, you might want to practice slow belly breathing, where you breathe into your belly, hold the breath for a moment, and then exhale slowly.
Here are two common breathing techniques to promote relaxation:
1. Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose while you count to four. Exhale through your mouth for six seconds. Repeat for two minutes or until you feel your heartbeat slowing down and returning to normal.
2. Inhale through your nose for five seconds, hold your breath after inhaling for five seconds, and then exhale for five seconds. Repeat for one to five minutes.
Focus on the present
Focusing solely on your anxiety can magnify the situation. Instead, focus on the moment and the situation you are in. Take your mind away from your anxiety. Immerse yourself in the activities around you. With this, you will reduce the pressure and gradually feel less anxious.
Anxiety is often generated by thoughts that are centered on past events or future outcomes. Try engaging your senses by focusing on your surroundings and things like sounds, smells, or textures. This method will help you create more space between your anxious thoughts and the experience you’re currently in.
Sometimes, public situations can cause anxiety because of the fear of the unknown. Planning ahead can reduce this fear and help you feel more prepared for the situation. Review your schedule, and plan your activities in the order of importance. Research the location of where you are going or ask for information when in doubt. By doing this, you eliminate the fear of the unknown, and decrease anxiety levels.
Developing a soothing ritual that you follow before heading out the door can help you manage your anxiety. Your ritual might involve mindfulness, stretching, meditation, or anything that brings a sense of calm. Plan time for yourself to complete this activity before you start your day.
P.S. Caffeine can trigger anxiety symptoms. Avoid or limit your intake of coffee, tea, energy drinks, and other caffeinated beverages if you’re affected by caffeine.
Challenge negative self-talk
Negative thoughts can fuel anxiety, so it is important to challenge them when they arise. Common negative thoughts include feeling like you’re not good enough or that the people around you are judging you.
When you notice negative thoughts, ask yourself questions to determine how realistic they are. Ask yourself, “What evidence do I have to support this thought?” and “What evidence do I have that contradicts this thought?” Then, try to replace negative thoughts with more positive and realistic ones. Changing your pattern of thinking will get easier with practice.
Anxiety can feel overwhelming in public, but it doesn’t have to be paralyzing. It’s also not something you should ever feel ashamed of.
The tips presented in this post are but a few things that you can do to manage your anxiety in public. Remember that change takes time and practice. Try a combination of techniques and keep track of your progress.
If your anxiety persists or starts to interfere with your life regularly, consider seeking professional help. The professional therapists and counselors at Cornerstone have helped people across the area effectively manage social anxiety symptoms. Anxiety management is unique to each person, and we will work together to find techniques that work for you. It’s never too late to improve your quality of life.
Schedule an appointment or give us a call at (217) 222-8254 to get started.