Taking action when you have social anxiety

Category: life Tags: current events

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I attended the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. This march that was the largest inaugural protest in US history, with over 500,000 people in DC alone.

I also have anxiety disorder and my anxiety is strongest when I am around large groups of people.

My March experience

I feel lots of things emotionally and physically when I am anxious. This is a sample of what I felt at the March:

  • Restlessness
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Muscle tension
  • Worry for days before an event where other people will be
  • Difficulty concentrating

Even before the March, I was very anxious about the thought of attending something originally named “The Million Woman March”. I worried for weeks about it. I actually made up my mind to not go for a very long time. One million is a really, really big number.

Despite that, attending the March remained in the back of my mind. I am woefully unrepresented in the current administration. I fear the Trump presidency will use my sexuality, my race, and my gender as excuses to take away my rights as a human. The desire to be heard was — is — important.

I ultimately went to the March because a group of supportive friends whom I trust asked if I wanted to go. I said yes because this is important. I also said yes because I really, really, really want my anxiety to not get in the way of things that are important to me.

That group made the experience so much better, despite the anxiety. The March was a memorable, important, and empowering day. I am so thankful that I was there.

Protester holding a sign with the text Love and Courage

If you have social anxiety — or any kind of anxiety — you may not make the same decision I did.

Alternative actions

There are actions we can take that are less anxiety-inducing. Here are a few quick ideas.

#1. Contact your representatives in Congress.

Phone calls are more effective, but if an email or a letter is all you can muster the energy for, do it. Social media seems to be the least effective method of contact.

  • Write a script. Contacting people is so much easier if you know what you want to say ahead of time. Your message can be short and simple. Here is a template you can use:
Hello. I am _______, a constituent calling to ask <Name> to put pressure on President Trump to <Specific Thing>. This is important to me because <Reasons>. Please ask the <Name> to <Do Specific Thing>.
  • Create a schedule. When and how often do you want to make contact? Your choice could be just once for a specific upcoming vote or once a week for ongoing issues.
  • Find contact information. There is contact information online for your Senators and Representative. There is also a great website that will find your Representative, if you need it.
  • Make the call. Send the email. No one is judging you on the other end, but they are listening.

#2. Pick one cause and see how you can help out

Is there a particular cause that you are passionate about? I will bet there is a local organization out there that can use your help!

When you find an organization that speaks to you, shoot them an email and ask if they need any help! You don’t have to canvas your neighborhood or make 40,000 phone calls to help most places. Organizations can use help in other ways too:

  • Web developers can offer technical help.
  • Artists can offer web and print design help.
  • Accountants can offer bookkeeping help.

You get the idea. We all have valuable life skills that can we can use to help a volunteer organization.

#3. Help a cause without contact

Did you find an organization that speaks to you, but are stressed out about making contact? It’s OK! You can still help.

  • Follow that organization on social media. This way, you can stay informed about their cause and what they are doing.
  • Share their posts with your friends.
  • Donate to them if you have the means.

#4. Breath and be kind.

The world is energized and arguably crazy right now. It will do everyone a world of good to simply breath and be nice to one another.

Young girl holding a sign saying Be Nice

Extra information:

  • (http://www.metafilter.com/163525/How-To-Call-Your-Reps-When-You-Have-Social-Anxiety)
  • (http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/11/a-post-election-action-plan-for-anxious-people.html)
  • (http://political-cartoons.us/post/153518796911/how-to-call-your-reps-when-you-have-social-anxiety)