Teachers in Transition

Teachers in Transition - Episode 116 - How to Deal with Social Anxiety as We Get Back to "Normal"

June 17, 2021 Kitty Boitnott Season 1 Episode 116
Teachers in Transition
Teachers in Transition - Episode 116 - How to Deal with Social Anxiety as We Get Back to "Normal"
Show Notes Transcript

As we turn the page on the pandemic, we start to get back to some sort of "normal" and for many people, that may be viewed with some mixed emotions. Many of us are eager to get back out into the world to start seeing family, friends, and co-workers again. But many are filled with dread because they are nervous about how they will handle social situations. Approximately 400 million people in the U. S. or 18% of the population suffer from some form of social anxiety.  For those people, getting back out into social situations may cause more anxiety and happiness.

Kitty wrote an article this week that offers some tips for how to face social anxiety as we get back to "normal." If you would like to see the article, email Kitty at [email protected] and ask for a copy. Be sure to offer your email address.

If you are one of the millions who suffer from some form of social anxiety, take heart. You are not alone. And the tips in the article Kitty offers this week may help. The main thing is to take it slow, don't force yourself to go too big too soon and find groups that you can enjoy being with while you get your social muscles working again.

Speaker 1:

Are you a teacher who's feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Do you worry that you're feeling symptoms of burnout or are you sure you've already gotten there? Have you started to dream of doing some other kind of job or perhaps pursuing a whole different career, but you don't know what else you're even qualified to do. You don't know how to start a job search. You just feel stuck. If that sounds like you, I promise you're not alone. My name is kitty Boitnott . I'm a career transition and job search coach. And I specialize in helping burn out teachers disliking deal, not only with the stress and overwhelm of your day-to-day job, but to consider what other careers might be out there waiting for you. Join me for teachers in transition. In some episodes, I'll be speaking to stress management techniques and how you can manage your stress on a day to day basis. In other episodes, I'll be talking about career transition. What tools do you need to be successful in a job search when you're moving from one career into a totally different track. These are questions that you need answers to, and I can help you find those answers. My name is kitty . Boitnott welcome to teachers and transition.

Speaker 2:

Welcome back to episode 116 of teachers in transition the podcast and the YouTube channel. My name is kitty Boitnott . I am the owner of boys , not coaching and the founder of teachers in transition. If you've listened to this podcast or watch the YouTube channel in the past, you know, that I alternate topics each week talking one week about career transition strategies. And on alternating weeks, I talk about stress management strategies. And the reason for that is that I do both. I'm a certified stress management coach. And so I help my clients manage their stress when they are in the midst of looking for new work or feeling the effects of job burnout. And , uh, I'm also a trained and experienced career transition and job search strategist. So that's why I speak to both topics on a regular basis. This week, the topic is stress, and it occurred to me to comment a little bit about getting back out into the world and interacting socially with people for some of us for the first time in over a year. Now, I know many of you, if your teachers you've probably been caught up in some sort of hybrid situation, if not fully back into your building. So this may or may not pertain you, that you've been in lockdown mode for the better part of the last year, but some of you may have just been teaching virtually from your home , um , from your dining room or from your bedroom or your living room, or somewhere in your house where you could set up a computer and conduct classes all day. And, and now that we're mostly getting vaccinated and mostly getting back to some semblance of it's stressful, you know , back during the months when we knew we had to wear a mask and we knew we weren't supposed to go to too many places, the places that we were quote unquote, allowed to go, we're restricted to the grocery store and the drug store that made things pretty simple. We may not have liked it, but at least it made things simple. Now we're faced with all sorts of choices, even if we're vaccinated, do we choose to wear a mask or not? Do we go somewhere other than the grocery store and the drug store with any sense of assurance that we're not going to be exposed to the vaccine? Who knows the point is we are slowly but surely getting back to some semblance of normal. And the fact of the matter is that for many people, well , normal is stressful. And I'm thinking in particular of people who suffer from some level or somewhere on the continuum of experiencing social anxiety disorders. Now I wrote about this in my weekly newsletter this week. And the title of my newsletter is tips for facing social anxiety. As we get back to quote unquote, and I did a little bit of research. I found out that 40%, not 40%, I'm sorry, 18% or 400 million Americans experience some level of social anxiety. And what I mean by social anxiety is that getting out and being with people is causing a physical sensation, including sweaty palms, elevated heart rate , um, feeling stuck, not knowing what to say in general, just feeling really uncomfortable. And some people are so affected by this, that it prohibits them from interacting in any kind of easy conversation or easy interaction. And the thing is that we need to be kind to those people and we need to allow them the time and the space that they need to feel comfortable. And if you happen to be one of those people, you need to give yourself time and space and to be kind and gentle with yourself while you get back out into the world with people, because most of us will probably end up going back to work with other people in some capacity, Cassidy or other. And we're going to have to Polish off and hone our social skills that have gotten I'm a little rusty this past year. They may have actually a little bit and we have to get back out into the world and , and relearn some of our social skills. Now I know that many of us who are introverts don't necessarily barely suffer from anxiety. We just, we just don't enjoy it . Boy, a lot of social activity, that includes a whole lot of people. It makes us feel uncomfortable. We don't, we don't thrive in those environments. We can manage them, but it's not where we prefer to be extroverts. On the other hand, that's where they get their energy. That's where they get, you know, they're , they're Juju's so that they can start getting, getting ready to do whatever it is that they need to do. So they're , they're the extremes of extrovert versus introvert, but I'm not really even talking about that. I'm talking about that those people who are so nervous, it's about interacting with other human beings. They prefer to stay home and avoid human interaction. Whether there's a pandemic or not now, what is it ? I suggest that a place that you can go, if you suffer from any kind of social anxiety , uh , particularly right up there with social anxiety disorder is the fear of public space . So I would encourage you to seek out a Toastmasters club in your neighborhood where you can join. If they're usually relatively small groups, you'll find that they're very welcoming and you can practice your public speaking skills, but you also get a chance to interact on a small scale with a small number of people and start, start getting your social skills sharpened a little bit. There are other there's suggestions. And I want to share with you from the article that I wrote for my newsletter this week, some of the suggestions that I offer that are , uh , I hope helpful to a few people and sending this out to my newsletter list . And if you'd like to be on my newsletter list, let me know by sending me an email at kitty Boitnott at Gmail, I'll put you on the email list. I'll need your email address and a name, but I can add you to the email list with your permission, if you would like for me to do that. Now, if Toastmasters isn't, you're saying, if you don't care anything about your public speaking or are using a Toastmasters club as a vehicle for sharpening your social skills and helping you get past your social anxieties, another possibility is a meetup. You can find meetups all over the country there in all communities, just go to meetup.com and look for , uh , groups of people who are, there are book clubs. There are different kinds of groups, bicycling groups, hiking groups, all sorts of groups that you can find, probably, you know, gardening and birding and all sorts of groups that have a similar interest . And you can find a group where you can go and practice, you know, a little bit of practice. It goes a long way. It's kind of like , um , trying to strengthen a muscle. You don't want to go all out and try to run a marathon without, without preparing for it, right? So you start out small and then you, you build from there. So that's, that's the first tip start small. If you have, I have social anxiety, don't try to get over it by going and speaking in front of an audience of 1500 people. That's, that's not the way to overcome your social anxiety. The way to overcome it is to start small with the Toastmasters group or some small group that you can speak to planning ahead, can help knowing where you're going. Exactly, where you're going, kind of anticipating what to expect so that when you get there, it doesn't, it doesn't feel like such a shock to the system to plan ahead so that you know what to expect of yourself through this process. There's nothing wrong. Other than you experience anxiety when it's time to get together with other people and comfort yourself with knowing that you're not the only one. We often think we're the only ones who feel the feelings that we have or experienced the experiences that we have. And we think that we're weird and odd and quirky. And the fact of the matter is there are a lot of other people out there who feel exactly the same way you do. So take some time comfort in knowing that love yourself and try to be less judgemental those about yourself and about other people. Part of our social anxiety, it turns out, comes from our own harsh judgment of ourselves that we then project onto other people. We figure that if, if, if, if we know all of our quirks and all of our , uh , characteristics, that they must be apparent to everybody else. And so they're , every other people are going to judge you for your quirky, weird ways. The fact of the matter is most people aren't paying any attention to you at all. The reason we feel anxious anxiety is that we feel like the spotlight's on us. And the fact of the matter is no, no spotlight. Other people are concerned with themselves and their own fears, their own uncomfortableness. They're not paying attention to you in the way that you feel like they are. And if you feel that you are harsh in your judgments of others, that's simply a projection of the harsh judgment of yourself. So again, love yourself and try to be a little bit less judgmental and stop projecting onto other people. What it is that you may be feeling, but they may not be feeling at all. No , that most of your fears are not real. That's, that's the key. No , that most of the things that we're afraid of don't ever happen because they're not even real. We made them up in our own minds and we've started to believe that they are reality, but they really aren't. Yeah . I remember as a child, I don't know who it was that told me about the boogeyman , right? The boogeyman was out to get me. So from four to five, anytime I was in the dark, you know, worried about the boogeyman he was coming to get me. And I particularly remember being afraid of being alone out on our back porch because I was afraid the boogeyman was in the yard and he would come in and grab me . But you man, it's not real. Now that didn't make my fear of him any less when I was five years old, but let's face it. We're not five anymore. And the things that we were afraid of his children, we now know most of the things that we were afraid of. Didn't turn out to be real in anything that you may be afraid of now is more than likely not real it's in your own head and your own belief system. And the good news about belief systems is that we can change them with our thoughts , uh , minding what it is that we're thinking and taking control of their thoughts so that we have less fear day to day . Another thing you can do immediately when you approach a situation where you feel anxious, stop and take a deep breath, just breathe in all the way down into your abdomen. You'll feel the tension drain away from your shoulders right away. Your neck and shoulders will start to feel a little more relaxed. Do that. Take several deep breaths, just as you're getting ready to enter a location where you're about to interact with people you don't know very well. And finally, I want to urge you that in spite of any fears that you may have in spite of any anxieties, you may be feeling in spite of your worry about getting back out into the world and experiencing more or less normal experiences. Now that we're coming out of the pandemic year, that you need to make yourself do it anyway. You know, remember the Nike commercial, just do it, just do it, make yourself because once you're out there, you'll find that the things that you were most worried about aren't likely to happen. People will be happy to see you. You'll be happy to see them and your social skills that might have gotten a little bit rusty. The remedy for that is to practice using them again, brush them off, pull them out of atrophy and work them again, like a muscle. It will come back to you like riding bicycle. It'll come back to you. I promise. Just do it anyway. And that is what I want to say to you. You can do this. So if you're out there listening, and you're one of the 18% or 40 million people in the United States who suffer from some level of social anxiety, take heart in knowing that you're not alone. And that you can take these small steps to get yourself back out into the world, without the fear, without the anxiety, or at least without as much anxiety. That's what I wish for you. And that's it for today. Have a great week, enjoy your summer vacation if you're, if you've started your vacation already, and I will be talking with you again next week. Bye-bye

Speaker 1:

So there you have it. An episode of teachers and transition. I hope enjoyed the information and I hope you'll plan to come back. Please subscribe to teachers in transition so that you can be alerted of future episodes. And let me know if you have any questions or topics that you would like me to specifically cover in a future episode, I'm more than happy to help with individual questions as well. So email me at kitty boy , not at boys , not coaching.com. If you are interested in finding a new career or just enjoying your life more, this is the place to start. Um , kitty boy , not , and this is teachers in transition.