Social Anxiety Disorder is often misunderstood in adults with ADHD. It gets perceived as shyness or being stuck up, yet it can hugely impact someone’s life. Now we have a roadmap out of lockdown, it’s time to consider what our future social lives might look like. With so many of us not being able to socialise for so long, it’s easy to think that everyone can’t wait to get out to see friends and family. However, for some people, in particular, those with ADHD combined with Social Anxiety Disorder, coming out of lockdown may be a source of extreme anxiety.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social Anxiety Disorder causes people to constantly worry about being judged negatively by others. Social Anxiety Disorder symptoms are triggered by social situations. They are not the same for everyone and can overlap with ADHD symptoms. Here are some of the more common indications:
- Being very self-conscious in front of other people, even those who know you well
- Extreme fear that others will judge you negatively
- Worrying for days or weeks before an event
- Avoiding situations that require social interaction
- Feeling intensely uncomfortable in social situations
- Panic attacks, including shaking, blushing, nausea or sweating, when in a social situation
- Difficulty talking to others
Coming out of lockdown
For the best part of a year, most people have had limited contact with others. For some, it’s been incredibly difficult, while other people have got used to it and quite like it. It might be that you need to reconnect with friends you haven’t been in touch with for a while. If you have ADHD combined with Social Anxiety Disorder, the idea of reuniting with people could be very nerve-wracking. Here are some tips to help you:
Take your time
Change is always challenging for people with ADHD and shouldn’t be rushed. Just because you will soon be able to meet up in groups again, doesn’t mean you should. Maybe try seeing just one person at a time to start with. Take it slowly and don’t be afraid to tell people you don’t want to rush into anything. They will understand.
Don’t compare yourself to others
It’s easy to look at social media and assume that everyone else is thriving. Here’s a reality check – they’re not.
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that how people present themselves online is how they would like to be perceived. Photos show mere moments of a person’s life and don’t tell you what’s really going on behind closed doors. The last 12 months have been incredibly up and down for everyone, so don’t compare your life to how you think someone else’s life is.
Don’t compare now to the past
Don’t spend time thinking back over past social situations where you’ve felt uncomfortable and imagining it happening all over again. Instead, focus on the present moment and the positive aspects of socialising. You might not want to talk much, but you will enjoy seeing other people’s faces.
Focus on other people
Try to focus your energy on other people instead of staying inside your own anxious mind. How can you show them kindness and empathy? What questions can you ask them to show that you care? This situation has been difficult for everybody.
Tell someone how you feel
Now more than ever, people are aware of others’ mental health. If certain aspects of socialising terrify you, then tell someone. Remember other people will be feeling anxious too. The fear of Coronavirus is still very real among us and there are plenty of people who are reluctant to socialise, including those who don’t have ADHD or Social Anxiety Disorder. You might find that opening up to someone else about your worries leads to them doing the same.
For some of us, the pandemic has changed our lives forever. It has certainly shown how resilient and adaptable we are. Throughout the current situation, people have reacted differently. Some people have not left the house for a year, while others have taken full advantage of any liberty they have been given. Everyone has their own reasons for how they have reacted. Other people have understood. Hopefully, one outcome of this tragedy will be us living in a more tolerant and understanding society.
If you or a loved one is struggling to cope with ADHD and Social Anxiety Disorder as the lockdown restrictions begin to ease, please get in touch with us. As well as ADHD assessments and evidence-based treatment packages, we also offer ADHD Behavioural Coaching. Please click the following link to find out more about our coaching sessions. ADHD Centre Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)