Yesterday I participated in a discussion group over voice chat. It was the first time in a couple of months that I’d had a real conversation with people I hadn’t met before. Making more friends is a goal of mine, but I often feel prevented from achieving that goal by social anxiety. Yesterday was no exception. When I woke up in the morning, I was already thinking about bailing on the discussion group.
In the past, I’ve found that doing fulfilling solo activities helps me counteract this anxiety. So yesterday morning I did yoga, meditated, went on a bike ride to a park, cooked lunch, and sang. Even after all that, I was still feeling anxious about ten minutes before the meeting. As the meeting started, I saw the list of people in the voice chat room and felt intimidated by its size. I nearly let myself bail on the discussion group.
Luckily, I took the opportunity to practice mindfulness. I took some deep breaths, closed my eyes, and focused on how I was feeling physically. I immediately noticed that my anxiety had manifested as a pit in my stomach. I focused on that sensation as well as I could and after a couple of minutes it mostly went away. I felt much calmer and, after a couple more minutes, I was able to join the voice chat room. I’m so glad I did. The discussion group was the highlight of my week.
I hope I’ll remember to use this technique more in the future. I think I can apply it not just to social anxiety but also my tendency to procrastinate.