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10 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Anxiety In Social Situations

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10 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Anxiety In Social Situations

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    Everyone’s been there at some point—in a tense, uncomfortable, or unfamiliar social arrangement, forced to make small talk with people whom we share no common ground with. Maybe you’re the odd one out, the pacifist among soldiers, the chicken farmer among vegans, or simply a social fledgling trying to “fit in.”

    Maybe you’re an introvert who avoids parties, or a person who needs a few cocktails to deal with the uneasy feelings that come from being out of your comfort zone. In studying Chronic Social Anxiety, which can be crippling for millions of people, scientists and psychologists have discovered ways that the mind can be retrained with adaptive or constructive behaviors, things that you train yourself to do when your worry or unease is triggered.

    Instead of wishing you’d stayed at home, you can learn to use the time to open your mind, practice taking risks and stretching your mental habits a little bit. You might discover some of your inner resources, and create opportunities to grow and connect with other people, essential elements of mental well being.

    Here are 10 things to help you get through the evening, the hour, or the next 15 minutes, which don’t involve crawling out the window in the restroom or using the time to read through all your junk mail on your phone.

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    1. Take Your Self Out Of The Equation

    This is the simplest, and often the hardest thing to do because as humans we take our egos everywhere we go. Experiment with it anyway. First, don’t assume that people are judging you, or even focused on you at all. People are often caught up in their own impression-making worries and probably aren’t noticing what you’re doing or saying as much as you might think they are. Take your “self” out of the equation and try to focus on what’s in front of you—community, or food, or the reason for meeting.

    2. Consider Everyone’s Humanity

    Remove the label. People aren’t just conservatives or liberals, hipsters or drones, successes or failures. As Walt Whitman said, we contain multitudes. Avoid sizing someone up immediately or deciding that they’re not your type of person. Instead, listen to what someone has to say and use it as a learning experience. Remember everyone’s humanity and emphasize your own.

    3. Remember That People Aren’t Always What They Appear To Be

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    Many people avoid their own feelings of vulnerability by creating a tough, know-it-all exterior. Often the haughtiest people are the most wounded inside. Introverts can come across as uninterested when really they are good listeners who need more time to ease in to a conversation. Practice compassion by trying to see through the way a person acts in public. You never know what someone has been through, or what great or horrible things have shaped the person you see in front of you. We are all people with stories to tell, only some people don’t know how to tell them.

    4. Interview Someone

    When you are forced into small talk, ask questions. Pretend the woman or man next to you is someone you are interviewing for a newspaper profile. Connect in a one-on-one way. Ask where they grew up or how they ended up in the city you both live in. Geography is great way to connect with people. You can learn a lot about someone by finding out more about where they came from, and use it as an opportunity to find out about places you’ve never heard of or are unfamiliar with.

    5. Ask Questions About Who People Are Instead of What They Do

    Many people find it easier to talk about themselves one-on-one, so give them an opportunity to be heard. You don’t have to go directly to questions like “where do you work?” or “what do you do?” Remember that people are more than their jobs. If someone mentions a vegetable garden, use it as an opportunity to ask how the person got interested in gardening. Or find out more about their relationship to the person or event bringing you together. Sometimes you learn more about people you thought you knew well by talking to their friends or coworkers about the other parts of their lives.

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    6. Acknowledge Cultural Differences

    Cultural diversity in a social situation is a wonderful opportunity to open your mind and learn about unfamiliar experiences, customs, and opinions firsthand. If you are talking to someone whose lifestyle, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is different from your own, you don’t have to avoid the subject. Our individual cultures or lifestyles are what make us interesting and have the potential for creating real conversations that change us.You don’t have to say, “I noticed that you’re gay,” or “Wow, your skin has so little pigment compared to mine!” but by listening you can notice how people refer to their own identity in conversations, and let it guide you to ask questions.

    That said, it’s also important to remember that there can be cultural differences in the way that people communicate and approach conversations. Some people grew up in families that listen to one another politely, others among people who interrupt frequently and get emotional quickly. Raised voices might look like a conflict to some people, and the same conversation could be intriguing and familiar to someone else.

    7. Let Neutral Subjects Subdue The Elephant In The Room

    Is there an elephant in the room? You don’t have to feed it. Don’t let an awkward experience or a thoughtless remark someone made suck all the air out of a room. If you encounter a person starting to rant about a subject that is obviously offensive or hurtful to someone in the group, steer the conversation in a different direction with more neutral subjects. Political arguments can easily get ugly if they are not diffused early on, and diatribes about that annoying neighbor with the self-righteous bumper stickers or religious views shouldn’t be what ruins an evening. Turn the talk to movies or the TV series you love, or go back into interview mode with someone you don’t know.

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    8. Don’t Let the Bullies Take Over 

    Sometimes there is one person who likes to stir the pot, who baits people with comments intended to start an argument. Alcohol can make some people more aggressive and give them the fuel they need to belittle others or put them on the spot with inappropriate remarks. Ideally, you come to the rescue of the person being bullied by showing your support as a fellow human. If you’re the one being bullied, try responding with a neutral dismissal such as “Maybe we can find another time to talk about this.” Or, alternately…

    9. Insert a Little Laughter

    Having a sense of humor can be of great service in awkward moments and can take the edge off of a too-serious moment that is making things hard for everyone. It can also help you quickly transition into other more neutral subjects. This doesn’t mean you have to tell jokes or start up your clown routine, it just means acknowledging that things could lighten up with a change of tone. If you’re the host, it’s your job to keep the peace if you can, and often you can encourage this with a little levity. Give everyone a chance to shake it off, as Taylor Swift keeps reminding us to do. A lighthearted nod such as, “Now that we’ve solved all the worlds’ problems, let’s have pie!” or “If everyone is ready for the cannoli eating contest, I’ll bring them out.”

    10. Show Appreciation

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    Take a moment to thank the person or people who brought you all together. This makes everyone feel gratitude and can move things in a positive direction. Make a toast, or reiterate the reason for gathering. Find a moment to celebrate something positive happening in the world!

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    Last Updated on January 24, 2022

    21 Best Tips On Making A Long Distance Relationship Work

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    21 Best Tips On Making A Long Distance Relationship Work

    Having texting and video conferencing at our fingertips, it appears that maintaining a long-distance relationship is easier than ever. Long-distance calls are no longer a luxury; the days when they needed to be rationed are long gone.

    Long-distance couples do not have to depend on 3 p.m. postal delivery, waiting for news that is at best four days old.

    Now we’re no longer even in the days of waiting for our loved ones to check their e-mail when they get home from work. Instant messaging keeps us hooked to each other even when we are out shopping, working, playing, watching a movie and doing much more.

    Technology, however, cannot compensate for everything in a long-distance relationship, as anyone with a long-distance relationship will tell you.

    Many long-distance relationships still seem emotionally difficult despite the lack of regular physical proximity.

    People often think long-distance relationships will never work. It may be discouraged by your family, and some of your best friends may tell you not to take it too seriously in case you end up heartbroken.

    Many things are not possible due to the extra distance – no one can promise it will be easy. Things could get complicated, and you might feel lonely and sad at times.

    Still, many of us try them.

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    However, the extra distance also makes the simplest things the sweetest. Being able to hold the other person’s hand, eating together at the same table, feeling each other’s touch, taking a walk together, smelling each other’s hair… these small wishes could suddenly mean so much more in a long-distance relationship.

    Long-distance relationships may be tough, but they have their own surprises too.

    Here’re 21 tips on how to make a long distance relationship work:

    1. Avoid excessive communication.

    It is unwise to be overly “sticky” and possessive. You two don’t really have to communicate 12 hours a day to keep the relationship going. Many couples think that they need to compensate for the distance by doing more. This is not true. And it might only make things worse. Soon you would get tired of “loving.”

    Remember: Less is more. It is not about spamming — you are only going to exhaust yourselves. It’s really about teasing at the right moments and tugging at the right spots.

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    2. See it as an opportunity.

    “If you want to live together, you first need to learn how to live apart.” – Anonymous

    View it as a learning journey for both of you. This is an opportunity for you to prove your love for one another. According to a Chinese proverb, “Real gold is not afraid of the test of fire.” Instead of thinking that this long-distance relationship is pulling you two apart, you should believe that through this experience, the both of you will be bound together even stronger.

    As Emma says it to Will in season four of Glee,

    “I would rather be here, far from you, but feeling really close, rather than close to you but feeling really far away.” – Emma, Glee Season 4

    3. Set some ground rules to manage your expectations.

    Both of you need to be clear with what you expect of each other during this long-distance relationship. Set some ground rules so that none of you will do things that will take the other party by surprise.

    For instance, are you two exclusive? Is it all right for the other person to go on dates? What is your commitment level? It’s better to be open with each other about all these things.

    4. Try to communicate regularly, and creatively.

    Greet each other “good morning” and “good night” every day — this is a must. On top of that, try to update your partner on your life and its happenings, however mundane some of the things may seem.

    To up the game, send each other pictures, audio clips, and short videos from time to time. By putting in this kind of effort, you make the other person feel loved and attended to.

    5. Talk dirty with each other.

    Sexual tension is undoubtedly one of the most important things between couples. In a way, sexual desire is like the glue that keeps both parties from drifting apart. Sexual need is not only biological but also emotional.

    Keep the flames burning by sending each other teasing texts filled with sexual innuendos and provocative descriptions. Sexy puns work pretty well too.

    6. Avoid “dangerous” situations.

    If you already know that going to the club or going drinking with your group of friends late at night will displease your partner, then you should either 1. Not do it or 2. Tell your partner beforehand to reassure them.

    You should not let this sort of thing slip by because it will only make your partner extra worried or suspicious – and of course, very upset because they will feel powerless or lack control over the situation.

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    You can fall victim to your traps by going out with eye candy from work after work or dating someone from your past who has been flirting with you without realizing it. Before entering a dangerous situation, you need to recognize the dangers.

    Listen to your heart, but don’t just rely on it. Make sure you also listen to your mind.

    7. Do things together.

    Play a game online together. Watch a documentary at the same time on YouTube or Vimeo. Share a song on Skype while another plays the guitar. Video-call each other and go for a walk together. Together, go online shopping – and buy each other gifts (see #13).

    You really have to be creative and spontaneous about it.

    8. Do similar things.

    Recommend books, TV shows, movies, music, news and etc., to each other. When you read, watch and listen to the same things, you get to have more topics in common to talk about.

    Even if you live apart, it’s nice to have some shared experiences.

    9. Make visits to each other.

    Every long-distance relationship is enriched by visits.

    After all the waiting and yearning and abstinence, you finally get to meet each other to fulfil all the little things like kissing, holding hands, etc. These are typical for couples in long-distance relationships but more special and intimate for long-distance couples.

    The atmosphere will be filled with fireworks, glitter bombs, confetti, rainbows, and butterflies.

    10. Have a goal in mind.

    Are we going to be apart for a long time?” “what about the future?” These are the questions you should ask yourselves.

    In fact, a couple cannot stay in a long-distance relationship forever. Eventually, we all need to settle down.

    So make a plan with each other. Set up a timeline, mark down the estimated times apart and times together, and draw an end goal.

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    It is important that you two are on the same page and have the same goals. So that even if you are not living in the same space and the same timezone, both of you are still motivated to work together in the same direction towards a future that includes one another.

    That’s right, you need some motivation to make a relationship last too. Find out more about what motivates you here.

    11. Enjoy your alone time and your time with your friends and family.

    You are alone, but you are not lonely unless you choose to feel like it. You don’t have to let your world revolve around your partner — you still have you, your friends, and your family. Take this time apart to do more with your friends and family. Go to the gym more often. Get a new hobby. Binge-watch shows. There are plenty of things for you to do that don’t involve your partner.

    12. Stay honest with each other.

    Talk about your feelings of fear, insecurity, jealousy, apathy, whatsoever. If you try to hide anything from your partner, that secret will sooner or later swallow you up from the inside out. Don’t try to deal with things all by yourself. Be open and honest with each other. Let your partner help you and give you the support you need. It’s better to look at the problem during its initial stage than to only disclose it when it’s all too late.

    13. Know each other’s schedules.

    It’s helpful to know when the other person is busy and free. So that you can drop a text or make a call at the right time. You wouldn’t want to disturb your partner when they are in the middle of class or halfway through a business meeting. Make sure you are aware of everyone’s small and big events in their lives, i.e., college midterms and exams, important business trips and meetings, job interviews, etc. Particularly if you live in different time zones, this becomes more important.

    14. Keep track of each other’s social media activities.

    Facebook and Instagram photos of each other. Send each other tweets. Tag each other on Facebook. Post stuff on each other’s wall. Let them know you care. Be cool with stalking each other.

    15. Gift a personal object for the other person to hold on to.

    Memories have power. No matter what it is–a pendant, a ring, a keychain, a collection of songs and videos, or a perfume bottle. Everyday items and things have meanings to us, whether we realize it or not. We all try to store memories in material things so that when our minds fail, we will still be able to look at or hold onto something that will help us recall our memories. This is why something so simple can mean so much to a person when others may see little or no value in it.

    16. Get a good messaging app.

    This is extremely important because texting is the most frequent and common way of communication the two of you have. You need a good messaging app on your phones that allows interactions beyond words and emoticons.

    Personally, I use this messaging app called LINE. I find it highly effective because it has a huge reserve of playful and very funny “stickers” that are free for its users to use. You can also go to the app’s “Sticker Shop” to download (or gift!) extra stickers of different themes (e.g., Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Snoopy, MARVEL, etc.) at a low price. Occasionally, the app will give out free sticker sets for promotions. This messaging app is cute and easy to learn to use.

    17. Snail-mail your gift.

    Mail each other postcards and hand-written love letters. Send each other gifts across the globe from time to time. Flower deliveries on birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day. Shop online and surprise each other with cool T-shirts, sexy underwear, and such.

    18. Stay positive.

    You need to constantly inject positive energy into the long-distance relationship to keep it alive. Yes, the waiting can be painful, and you can sometimes feel lonely, but you need to remind yourself that the fruits at the end will be sweet as heaven.

    One good trick to staying positive is to be grateful all the time. Be thankful that you have someone to love — someone who also loves you back. Be thankful for the little things, like the hand-made letter that arrived safely in your mailbox the other day. Be thankful for each other’s health and safety.

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    19. Keep each other updated on each other’s friends and family.

    This will help you two to know each other’s culture and values. Knowing small habits of each other helps in developing an understanding and building mutual trust.

    Talking about family and friends gives you more matters to talk about. The best thing to talk about is gossip and scandals.

    20. Video-call whenever possible.

    Because sometimes looking into each other’s eyes and hearing each other’s voices can make everything feel alright again.

    A video call is though nothing like being together, but it’s the best thing and the most to do for coziness in a long-distance relationship.

    21. Give each other pet names.

    Because it’s cute. It keeps the lovey-dovey going. Having special names for each other reserved only for one another are heart-warming. Hearing that one word with love lifts our spirits up, and we feel assured all over again.

    Chaos seems to fade away just by hearing that special word from someone special.

    With the best wishes…

    Love (or like) is a force that is beyond your control. Love just happens. The same goes for turning off those feelings, even when you get the perfect job halfway across the country.

    Neither one of us expects to be long-distance in a relationship. But if you’re in a relationship like this, you’ll just have to make the most out of a difficult situation. These advice for long distance relationships will hopefully help you stay strong and cheerful when living apart from one another.

    More Recommended Relationships Experts on Lifehack
    • Carol Morgan —  A communication professor, dating/relationship and success coach
    • Dr. Magdalena Battles — A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault
    • Randy Skilton —  An educator in the areas of relationships and self-help

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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