Five Ways to Help a Friend Suffering from Social Anxiety
Some people find it very easy to talk to strangers, interact with different people, and comfortably be a part of social situations. However, many people, on the other hand, find it extremely hard to socialize. It holds especially true for those suffering from social anxiety.
Social anxiety can be quite problematic for one’s career as well as personal and social life. If not treated, it can have negative implications for one’s physical and mental health. Therefore, we must get help and help others around us who are going through the same.
It is important to empathize with a friend who has social anxiety. It is essential to help him face his fears so that he can return to normal life rather than judging him and making him feel bad.
In this article today, I’m going to introduce you to a number of tips to help a friend who has chronic social anxiety. It’s wise to know all the tiny bitsy details before you start interacting with someone’s emotional and psychological side. Have a look:
Learn How Anxiety Manifests
For starters, you need to learn about social anxiety, how it manifests, the symptoms it brings along, and more. It will put you in a better position to help your friend or family member with social anxiety.
As you know humans keep evolving. They react to fear with a flight, fight, or freeze response. For each person, the response is different. For instance, some people may freeze in social situations while others may have panic attacks. There are people who become cranky in social situations, what you call a fight response.
When you know all such details, it gets easier to understand what the other person is going through. It helps you empathize with them, not just sympathize.
Provide Support as per Your Friend’s Personality
Different people respond differently to different support styles. For example, a person with an avoidant personality is more likely to respond to a strong practical support display. You could help him create a more manageable schedule. Tell him how to respond to an important email or address a call when anxious.
On the other hand, people with a preoccupied personality usually fear that their emotions may overwhelm others, which is why they abandon their emotional selves.
Such people respond better to empathizing and supportive statements that make them feel like they are a part of the team. For example, saying stuff like ‘we will get through this together’ is better than saying ‘I will help you get through this.’
Offer Your Support, but Don’t Micromanage
When you are trying to support a socially anxious friend, it is very important not to completely take over. Avoidance is a common response to social anxiety and sometimes in an effort to help our friends, we end up taking over and inadvertently feeding into their avoidance.
For instance, if a socially anxious friend finds it challenging to make a phone call to get a doctor’s appointment, you may dictate every single word he needs to speak or simply end up doing it for him. It can be helpful temporarily but remember it’s unhealthy at the end of the day.
Micromanaging or taking over will leave your friend exactly at square one where he was initially when he developed the disorder. Supporting someone means helping him/her help him/herself, not doing the work for them.
Nonetheless, you can make an exception if your friend’s social anxiety is accompanied by depression. In such a scenario, it is best to do whatever is necessary to help the person.
Look for Organic Alternatives
While you may refer your friend to the best psychiatrist in town, taking allopathic medicines like anti-anxiety pills or benzodiazepines is not a solution. In fact, it can make things worse for him, aggravating his symptoms even more.
Thus, you should look for organic alternatives to help him out. I’ve had social anxiety all my life and nothing really helped me, except one thing. Medical marijuana and a few other natural herbs worked for me when everything else failed.
I usually prefer passionflower, wonder bar chocolate, ashwagandha, or Sativa marijuana strains whenever there’s a social event ahead. They help destress my body and unwind my mind, which is all one needs when anxious. You should look into herbs and plants, too. They will help your friend recover naturally.
Avoid Stigmatizing Your Friend’s Anxiety
In severe cases, anxiety can have a detrimental impact on one’s mental health. It can cause panic attacks, lead to depression, and initiate obsessive thinking patterns. A person affected by severe anxiety may feel like they are losing their mind and going crazy.
You mustn’t be stigmatizing and judging your friend’s condition. Try your best to be supportive. It is essential to help your friend realize that he’s much more than his current state of mind. It is best to reassure him that your perception of him is still the same as before, that whatever he’s going through shall pass.
There’s no greater pleasure than helping someone get back to a normal life. It becomes more satisfying when that someone is your friend or family member. Follow the tips mentioned above and help your friend shine once again. Trust me; it’s the best way to give back to your loved ones. I wish you all the best, my pals!