I have social anxiety, but it doesn’t have me.
Do you HAVE to live with social anxiety?
Yes. But actually, no 🙂 I developed anxiety through a difficult childhood and adolescence, so I have lived with it for a while. Regardless of how or when it began for you, social anxiety is something that you can work around. Really!
I’ve learned (and experienced) that social anxiety is something that you can improve, or make worse, depending on what you choose to do. Let’s focus on improving it!
Today, I will give you tips on what you can choose to do, especially at church, to make your social anxiety easier to deal with. I’ll even recommend a SUPER helpful book at the end of the post. But first, here is a quote from the book: 👇
“I want to feel less anxious
so I can live my life,” he said.
“You’ll feel less anxious
by living your life.” [she replied].
Tips for Going to Church
with Social Anxiety:
1. Don’t isolate yourself.
Like the book quote above suggests, you don’t wait until you feel better to go out in public. You go out in public, and then you feel better about it.
Don’t shelter yourself at home 😟 It’s a bit uncomfortable to go out, but go to church every Sunday. That’s only 4 times per month. I found that the more I attend church, the more comfortable I feel going.
It’s like having a fear of public speaking. How do you get over it? By enrolling in Toast Masters and practicing, and becoming familiar with it. Only then will you tell your brain that hey, this isn’t dangerous, after all… and it’s even kind of fun!
2. Accept that the “morning greet” can be awkward.
Let it be awkward. Let it be funny. Last Sunday I went to shake someone’s hand at the same time as someone else, and we just oops! and laughed about it. No biggie.
The more I go to church, the more I see that the morning greet is kinda awkward for everyone. People just politely say hello, or wave, or try to get to each other to say hi. Small chat about the weather happens, and then that’s that.
3. Nobody cares. In a good way!
Literally nobody cares if I do something awkward or accidentally burp or bump into something. Nobody cares. I used to think they cared, because I was so self-conscious and focused on myself. So…
Focus on something other than you. Notice other people at church. Some people are alone. Some people are dressed up and some are dressed down. Nobody cares.
In a good way! 🙂
4. Keep the beat of the music.
Okay, so I have a sensitive nervous system. I can’t really put things “in the background.” Too much movement and noise causes me sensory overload. It’s not like I short-circuit or anything 😏 but it’s just annoying. Like a fly buzzing around your head.
So, now what I do is keep time with the music. I’m learning to play guitar with a metronome, which clicks in timed intervals. Beat, beat, beat, beat. One of the beats is usually more pronounced.
I’ve started keeping the beat, and last Sunday I noticed that I was literally dancing at one point! I was moving in time and it was all very nice. (That’s the magic of focusing on something other than yourself!)
- Pray. Jesus can help you with anything and everything ❤️
- Wear comfortable clothing you’ve worn before. Wear it around the house to make sure your shirt doesn’t rise up when you sit, for example. That’s one less thing to worry about.
- Accept that silly mistakes happen to everyone, not just you. You might do something silly, it doesn’t mean you are silly. The more often you go to church, the more often you’ll see that it’s not just you making silly mistakes or social gaffes.
- Let it go. Did you do something not socially graceful? Cool. Now move on. You have songs to sing and Bible verses to study!
- Sit somewhere quietly. I certainly don’t “work the room” when I arrive. I say good morning as I walk past the lobby and go inside and sit. A few other people do the same. It’s more comfortable for me than acting like someone I’m not (the life of the party. So not me!)
- The more you go, the better you’ll feel. Church will become familiar. Faces will become familiar. You’ll get used to being around others and singing and praying, and it WILL become easier.
Here is the wonderful book that has helped me so much!
I hope this blog is able to help you, so that you can go to church every Sunday and feel great about it! I highly, highly recommend that book if you suffer from social anxiety. I 110% believe that it can be improved. If someone as shy and awkward as me can do it, you can too! 🙂
Take care and God bless,