Social Anxiety And Artists
What is social anxiety?
In other words, social phobia is a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations. It commonly starts in the teenage years. It can be very impacting on a person’s life. Some people get better as they age but some need special treatment.
With social anxiety, you have a constant fear that affects your everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships, and work or school life. A person that suffers from social anxiety worries about social encounters before they happen, during the events, and after they happen.
Worry about everyday activities (meeting strangers, starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working, or shopping).
Avoid or worry a lot about social activities mostly in group settings.
Always thinking about how you conduct yourself (blushing, sweating, seaming incompetent).
Find it difficult to do things when someone is watching (the constant feeling of being judged).
Fear of being criticized, avoiding eye contact, low self-esteem.
Feeling physical discomfort (upset stomach, sweating, trembling, or palpitations of the heart).
Social anxiety is usually accompanied by depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, insomnia, and PTSD.
“The best way out of anxiety is often to expose yourself to the things you are afraid of.”
I don’t know who said that but it’s a load of due-due if you ask me. I have been suffering from social anxiety my whole life and exposure doesn’t heal or make it less than. I don’t like overcrowded places or situations where I need to talk a lot in person, so in order to lessen that I started working as a waitress a few years back. My social anxiety didn’t improve I simply learned how to mask myself and pretend to be talkative and joyful but on the inside, I would rather run away. The physical aspect of the job helped a bit, it kept me busy but when I was in a panic mode, I would unknowingly overdo it and it resulted in overworking myself to pneumonia and a lower back injury. And when the pandemic hit, I was actually relieved. I didn’t have to deal with people anymore.
At this point, I turned to art and working for myself. I can’t do commissions at this point but POD and non B2B things are kind of ok. So, I threw myself into art. But come to think of it now, it was just another way of escaping. I mean it’s not that I don’t love doing art and designs, and creating content, because I do it’s just sometimes it feels like I’m just escaping the real world. At some point, I’ll have to deal with clients myself and start to socialize just to get my art out more.
If you want to be a content creator or sell your art you need to talk to people and join chat groups and forums. But when you have social anxiety even those tasks seem like it’s the end of the world.
Here are some tips on how to deal with social anxiety on a day-to-day basis. I have to say that I use them every day and it gets better over time. They became a habit, and I don’t even realize when I’m using them.
1. You are NOT alone
Sometimes we forget that we are not the only ones with this problem. There are so many people around the world that feel exactly the same as you do. Talking to people who have the same problem as you might help. Just FB alone has many groups that you can join. At first, you don’t need to be active in those groups but as you read through the stories and struggles of others you quickly realize you’re not alone and want to share your story with them.
2. Change your MINDSET
Before going to an event or meeting with friends stop yourself from thinking about how they’ll think about you and your appearance. In 99,9% of the cases, they have their own problems and insecurities to be bothered with yours. They are probably doing the same thing you’re doing before you go out. They just trained themselves to throw those types of thoughts away as they leave the house. Instead of worrying about how others might think of you how about you do this instead. Try to use positive affirmations when you're getting ready to go out of the house, like: “Everything will be ok: You look great. Your friends will like you the way you are. It’s OK if somebody doesn’t like me, I don’t have to like them as well. “ and so on. Pump yourself up before you leave the house. It’s going to feel strange at first because you’re used to the negative thought flow so changing it will take time and effort from your side. Through time you’ll get better at it. Pay attention to your thoughts and if they start to shift to the negative side correct them with positive affirmations.
3. Don’t forget to BREATHE
Believe it or not but how you breathe plays a huge role when it comes to anxiety and panic attacks. Low and fast breathing can create panic attack symptoms and makes your brain believe you are in panic mode. But if you are conscious of your breathing, you can prevent that. Deep, slow, and equal breathing pattern can calm us down and relaxes our body. When you know you need to be in a social gathering or setting monitoring your breathing before you go take a few deep relaxing breaths in and out and relax your body. When your body is tense, you’re breathing also changes. But with proper breathing, you can relax your body and avoid a panic attack. You can start with practicing meditation and conscious breathing, learn some breathing techniques and in time you’ll be able to monitor your breathing habits and see them before they occur.
The things that we don’t know, and are afraid of we tend to procrastinate and avoid for our long as possible. But avoiding the problem won’t make it go away either. Sometimes just doing it is the best solution. You can’t improve on something you’re bad at if you don’t practice it. Social networking and talking to people skills are gained and learned by actually talking to people and using the techniques of good public speaking. Yes, you came across “assholes” from time to time but don’t let a few rotten apples turn you away from even trying. They say that every beginning is the scariest part of doing anything and it gets easier over time.
5. GET HELP
If you feel like you really can’t do it by yourself asking for help from a professional is not a bad thing. Nowadays it’s actually encouraged to get help from a professional. Why go through all that by yourself when someone trained can guide you through without the feeling of being judged? They are there for one reason and one reason only, to give you advice, teach you techniques that might help, and listen to you. They are an outsider and not your family or friends thus they won’t judge you in any way. You decide if you wish to tell your story to them or not. They might be able to help more if they knew the background a bit and discover how you got to the point you are now. It is all to assist you better.
I know getting out of your bubble is hard because it’s nice and warm inside. No one bothers you and you don’t need to deal with anybody, but we live in a society that is always intertwined. If you want to succeed in business, you need to network. In order to network, you need to put yourself out there and talk to people. Just think about it. If everybody would constantly think about how others thought about them and judge them nobody would be able to accomplish anything, and we would all live in our little bubbles alone and miserable.
Humans are social creatures, and we need to interact with others it’s in our nature.
How about you? How do you deal with social anxiety as an artist? Do you do some of the tips I mentioned above? Let’s chat about it in the comment section. I would love to read about it.