How to make friends when you have anxiety?
One of the hardest struggles to deal with when you have social anxiety is making friends and keeping healthy relationships.
Nobody wants to be sat in alone on a Saturday night or booking holidays for one, right!?
But when you have anxiety, hiding under your duvet, having a PJ party for one (and maybe snacks) is often the easiest and less daunting moves.
Worrying about feeling anxious in social environments, wanting to fit in, and simply struggling to know how to connect with others without feeling uncomfortable, are aspects of social anxiety that make it more difficult to make friends.
Trust me, I have been there.
Keep reading on for some tips on how to put yourself out there to meet new people and make friends, for happier long lasting friendships.
1. Be Honest
One of the easiest ways to connect with people is to show them the real you.
There are so many people out there dealing with anxiety, self-doubt and feeling afraid to just actually be themselves.
When you can stop hiding behind a mask that says "Everything is fine, I am super woman, I don't worry about anything and I have no emotions" - it allows others to feel safe to let down their masks too.
People trust you when you open up to them. We are all in this together, and if you just take a little leap of faith, in sharing your honest feelings, people will get to know the real you.
This get's easier the more you do it, believe me! You may be surprised at the kindness and understanding of others :).
2. Be patient with yourself
Don't feel like going out all night and talking to people for six straight hours!? That's fine, I don't blame you.
But instead of hiding alone at home and feeling lonely, why not be gentle with yourself and compromise?
Go out for just an hour or so. Instead of feeling like you have to mingle with absolutely everyone, just have one or two really nice, connected conversations.
Don't overwhelm yourself, dip your toe in and then go home when you have had enough.
You'll get the best of both worlds and be in total control of how much or little interaction you feel like having.
Top tip: Know how you are going to get home! If you are in control of your own transport, you can leave whenever it is right for you. Then you can relax into the social event, safely knowing that you won't have to wait for your friend to drive you home or wait for a taxi when you've decided it's time to go home.
3. What do you enjoy?
Have you ever dreaded something all day, because you don't really want to do it, but you are going to anyway? Yeah, me too.
Be more selective with your time and energy. This may sound counter productive at first. But in my experience, we are like batteries, with only so much energy in a day.
Make a list of things you like doing, activities you really enjoy, and the types of people that energise you. Prioritise saying yes to those things.
Learning how to say no to things that don't serve you is actually leaving more time and energy available to you, to do the things that light you up without feeling overwhelmed.
The friends you make this way will inevitably be more easy, enjoyable, and longer lasting too! Bonus :)
4. Where are your boundaries?
Making friends can feel really daunting and overwhelming if you are not clear on where your personal boundaries lie.
If somebody new comes into your life, and they want to spend more time with you than is comfortable. Or if they have too many expectations out of the friendship that make you feel overwhelmed or anxious.
Then instead of running a mile and retreating back to the safety of isolation, try gently setting some boundaries.
For example, saying things like "thanks so much for the offer, but i'm going to have some me time to recharge" or "I know you've got a lot going on and you need an ear, I'm pretty busy but I'd love to catch up with for a coffee next Tues when I can give you my full attention" - you are still investing in the relationship but at your own pace and with gentle boundaries for your personal time and space.
So in summary, be yourself. Your time is precious so choose what you say yes to wisely and take it one step at a time. You've got this!