Overcoming Anxiety: Tip #9
There are certainly times when we've all just wanted to be alone - to sit back, relax, and recharge from a busy day or week.
However, there are other times we may choose to be alone for other reasons. Perhaps we just don't feel like getting dressed and going out, maybe we don't want to deal with crowds, traffic, having to make conversation with friends, small-talk with our neighbors, or eye-contact with... anyone.
Isolation can be a contributing factor to, as well as a symptom of, anxiety. When frequent isolation occurs, you may begin to feel lonely, and disconnected from the outside world. When left alone, especially with your thoughts, your mind can have a field day - overthinking and overanalyzing any and every situation in front of you. You may begin to overthink an upcoming presentation, replay the last conversation you had with a friend, boss, or family member, wonder if a recently submitted school or work assignment was good enough, and begin to question your life journey. Our thoughts can quickly spiral into anxious thinking and negativity for no reason at all.
When this happens, we are tempted to isolate even further. When we begin to feel anxious and down on ourselves, socializing, smiling, and even picking up the phone may be some of the last things we want to do. It's like our anxious mind latched onto us and won't let go.
To prevent isolation, it's important to ask yourself, "What will I do with my time if I decide to spend it by myself?" If you genuinely want to relax, recharge, and have some alone time, by all means go for it - maybe you want to catch up on the latest TV show, engage in a hobby, or just sit and listen to music.
But, after you've recharged and had some time to unwind, then what? Imagine it is a beautiful Sunday afternoon. What are your options?
Take a walk around the block?
A trip to the grocery store?
Make a phone call?
Grab a quick bite to eat with a friend at a local restaurant?
Sit in the park?
Take an exercise class?
Go to the local library?
Spend quality time with your kids/family?
Do some window shopping?
The list is endless.
Simply engage in what you feel most comfortable with. If you have social anxiety and feel uncomfortable around others, maybe take a walk around the block, or to the park. Even if you don't speak with anyone, taking in the scenery and/or observing those around you can free your mind from any overthinking it was previously engaged in. It can allow you to take a mental break from your usual thoughts, get some fresh air, and allow you to feel connected.
While isolation can contribute to worsening anxiety, it can also bring on feelings of sadness/depression, low self-confidence, and frustration.
If you find yourself working hard to prevent isolation, but continue to struggle, it can be helpful to speak with a professional counselor to create a personalized plan that can help you succeed.
DISCLAIMER: The blog posts shared on www.StacySmithCounseling.com contain the opinions of Stacy Smith, MS, LPC, and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations or affiliates. While Stacy is a licensed mental health professional, all blog posts on her site are for informational purposes only, and are never a substitute for professional advice catered to your individual needs. Stacy Smith is not liable for any diagnosis, treatment plans, or decisions made based on the information presented on this website. Furthermore, commenting on posts does not mean a treatment relationship has been established with Stacy Smith.