Whether it's anxiety about where we will be or worry that you will be triggered when out with people, sometimes being social can be as tricky to enjoy as our alone time. Often, we need to find subtler ways to cope with our stress or our triggers, as it can be awkward at times to explain why we are frightened or nervous. Since we need that social contact for many important reasons - including positive reminders about ourselves and the world around us, support from our loved ones, and a vacation from the hardships of life to name a few - it's important that we find a good way to get our social time to have as little stress as possible.
Social time is as important as our alone time in what it can help us to process, so this week we'll be focusing on how you are able to bring positive social time into your life, how you enjoy that social life, and how you cope with the stresses that social time can contain.
This week's questions:
- How often do you need social time in your life? Do you prefer to be social every day? every week? or just a few times per month?
- What obstacles do you need to overcome to enjoy social time?
- What benefits does social time bring to your life (and healing if applicable)?
- What is your favorite way to cope with the stress of a social situation? What has worked best to help you cope when subtlety is important?
For me, I don't need much social time. Aside from my husband, I usually go socializing a few times per month. For me, since I need a lot of alone time to process my emotions, I tend to space out my social time so that I have a chance to process all the feelings that come along with social time from bad to good.
I'm agoraphobic (afraid of unfamiliar things) so social time can be tricky. Even if I know the place I'm going, I'm likely to have a panic attack, so if it's somewhere unfamiliar, I have to overcome a lot of anxiety to enjoy social time. I also have Crohn's disease (affects digestion, etc), so I'm a bit restricted as to where I can go (I generally need to be somewhere with a bathroom nearby). Another obstacle I need to overcome is my self-doubts. Sometimes I feel I'm not worth spending time with if I'm feeling depressed or if I've had a really bad week. Sometimes I need to overcome my inner critics to remember that I'm worthy of and going to enjoy the social time once I can get there.
Social time reminds me that I'm not alone. It reminds me there are excellent people out in the world, and reminds me I'm a part of a community, a friend-family, and I am loved by that community. For me, social time is a chance for me to remember the good in life, the good in myself, and revel in all of that. Especially social time with close friends, having a conversation gives us all a chance to ponder new things, or just enjoy life and all it has to offer. For me there are a great number of benefits, and most of them are to my image of the world and myself. For me, the reminder that there are wonderful, loving people out in the world can make my entire day. It definitely helps me in my healing - to be reminded that not everyone is an abuser looking for their next target
Bonus: My favorite social-time coping skill is the tissue trick. I often carry a tissue (Kleenex type tissue) in my pocket. When I'm anxious, it's something I can squeeze or shred. It's subtle, because I can carry it in my pocket or purse and no one looks at me funny for having it (unlike if I carry along my stuffed animals!). I usually keep a little pocket pack of them in case of a really bad panic attack - they're just soft and comforting and discreet. Other things which work well are soothing smells. Putting a drop of lavender perfume somewhere I can access it means instant aromatherapy in a stressful situation. Also, if I have the option of it, I'll listen to comforting music on my way to social time to help ready me for any stress.