May 1, 2016 2:23 pm
We have all been there. It’s the evening before your big speech and all you can think about are the negative possibilities of what you think may happen. For the majority of us, public speaking is the most common form of social anxiety. Everyone has felt anxiousness, so whether or not you have an anxiety disorder, we can all relate to the symptoms to some degree.
For 18% of the population, anxiety related disorders create life altering obstacles beyond your everyday shyness. Typically this develops in early adulthood or adolescence and can seriously hinder the ability to become strong, independent members of the community if left untreated.
Many individuals with autism deal with anxiety disorders as well, which can create drastic behavioral issues that negatively impact their ability to connect socially, and even more so, get the skills necessarily to become independent. The correct social skills may be developed to a certain extent, but the anxiety creates a barrier between the individual and other people. What good are the social skills if you cannot present them because of your anxiety?
So whether or someone is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or have strong anxious feelings around certain areas, we suggest looking at the following options to help develop the skills needed to overcome it.
Is medication necessary?
Medication is one factor when dealing with one’s anxiety, and is very common within our population of residents who need it. If a doctor believes it is a viable way to help manage the anxiety, then it can be a good first step towards supporting additional social skill development and personal growth. By developing strong social and behavioral skills with the support of medication, we believe that over time an individual will be more comfortable and successful during social interactions. No matter what, if a young adult doesn’t feel comfortable in their social setting, that drive to want to be a part of any community will not exist. If you can’t even begin to work on the skills needed to overcome your anxiety because of the anxiety, then medication may be the best way to get your foot in the door if a doctor recommends it.
Talk it out.
This is one of the most important aspects of dealing with any issue. If you bottle it up, it isn’t going to fix it. Every week our advisors have specific meetings with their resident to discuss the goals they are working on. On top of personalized and individual meetings, residents have the opportunity to sit down with any staff and discuss whatever they want. We also heavily encourage our residents with more severe social anxiety to talk with therapists and other professionals to get the support that they need. One person isn’t going to have the answers, but there is a good chance that multiple perspectives from various people will have a greater influence.
Experience it in healthy (and supportive) doses.
A lot of what we do as a program deals with experiential education. You learn about the skill in various forms while you continue to fine-tune and practice it in real life situations. Dealing with social anxiety is no different than learning to how to overcome your fear of heights. By taking small steps, you can help manage and begin to feel more comfortable at greater heights. Sure, you are going to have your ups and downs, but the more you start to feel comfortable, the more you will overcome those initial feelings. Learning to work with your thoughts and emotions can be exhausting, which is why we also recommend doing it with a support system and in small increments. If you don’t like heights, you most likely won’t go skydiving right away. If large crowds make you feel scared and overall terrible, work towards smaller groups until you feel more comfortable. You do, however, have to start somewhere!
Finding a tool that works.
Some people repeat what makes them anxious until it becomes such a minuscule issue and the worry temporarily goes away. Others use stress balls to deflect their energy elsewhere. Every person deals with emotional and physical issues differently. Learning different mindfulness and stress relieving strategies are an important way to dealing with ones anxiety over time. Whatever works, works!
Your health and wellness.
If you don’t sleep great at night, you typically feel uneasy the next day. When you over-eat greasy and filling foods, you usually feel sluggish and irritable. How you treat your body is directly related to your emotional and overall physical state, which most certainly has an affect on you socially. With a healthy diet and exercise, we believe that a person is more set up for success when dealing their anxiety, or any goal for that matter!
For young adults with ASD, peer relationships can be difficult or even at times seem impossible because of social anxiety. Many individuals who have been diagnosed with aspergers or high functioning autism seem to struggle with anxiety because of their heightened awareness of their environment. Seeing the differences between their actions and capabilities alongside those of their “neuro-typical” peers can create high anxiousness in and of itself. The good news is, all of this can be worked on and doesn’t have to take away from developing into a strong, independent adult.
Team Beacon Transitions
Beacon Transitions is a short term residential program that helps prepare young adults with ASD, aspergers, and other learning differences for a life of creative independence. We work with our residents by developing opportunities to learn, experience, and apply independent living skills in order to reach their true potential. If you have an interest in our program, reach out to us through our contact page, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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