This has two parts. First, interacting with friends can be really helpful when you’re feeling anxious. Socialising releases oxytocin (the love hormone), which, while not an instant fix-it, can help us feel calmer and more positive. So if you’re feeling anxious, it’s worth seeing if some friends are free to hang out.
Second, it’s worth communicating with your friends to let them know what you’re going through and what you need from them. Talking about your mental health can be scary, but if your friends are really your friends, they’ll want to support you. And the only way they can do that is by knowing what’s going on. Maybe you want their understanding if you’re acting a bit strangely. Maybe you need to bend their ear for a bit, sans guilt. Maybe something they do, thinking they’re being helpful, is negatively affecting you, and you need them to stop. Whatever it is, the only way to get this is to ask for it.
9. Challenge negative thoughts.
There are loads of different therapy techniques for anxiety, from cognitive behavioural therapy to mindfulness. All have their merits, some might work for you, some might not. One of the most useful therapy techniques I’ve found though, is learning to question my negative thoughts.
For instance, a lot of my anxiety is social, and I often worry that when I talk to people I’m annoying them, so by not speaking to them, I’m doing them a favour. Now when I think that, I try to turn it on its head – by staying quiet, or walking away from a conversation, am I actually coming off as rude? Maybe, rather than saving the other person from my awkward chit chat, I’ve inadvertently made them feel anxious or rejected.
Challenging negative thoughts, and trying to look at them another way, can help to change negative behaviour patterns and prevent you from wallowing in a bad headspace.