In the Radio 4 programme Hell Is Other People, Byron Vincent discusses social anxiety. He tries out a number of methods to tackle the anxiety including a life coach, therapist and attending dinner parties. He does it all in good humour. I particularly enjoyed him narrating the thoughts going through his head whilst attempting different situations.
“Actually, I think this is going okay, I might not have to go to the bathroom and do a power stance in front of the mirror.”
In much the same way Steven from Buzzfeed attempts to reduce his social anxiety and learn how to make friends. He uncovers 7 tips:
- Don’t put too much pressure on getting everything right on the first try.
- You don’t need to become someone else to be social.
- It’s not your responsibility on how the conversation will go.
- Common interests are the foundation of a relationship.
- Start conversations with simple questions.
- Trading information is the key to a good conversation.
- Focusing on the other person gives you the freedom to feel less self-conscious.
In Walking on Custard: How Physics Helps Anxious Humans, Neil Hughes tells the tale of the time he realised that anxiety was a bit like walking in custard. The consistency of custard is that if you tried to walk on it you would have to keep walking otherwise you would sink. His talk makes much more sense than I’ve just described! His tips for beating ‘custard traps’ include:
- Self observation
- Doing something different when you realise anxious thoughts occurring
- Replacing long-term habits
And finally, in another Radio 4 programme, A Point of View, Adam Gopnik talks for 10 minutes about worrying. He talks about 4 types of anxiety:
- Catastrophic - something terrible will happen such as a plane crashing.
- Free floating - each worry is replaced by another.
- Implanted - perpetuated by a news culture.
- Existential - mortality is a dead cert.
I like his remedy for Catastrophic Anxiety - If something has over a 1 in 1000 chance of happening the probability of it happening to you is so low you can live your live in the conviction that it will never happen.