Managing Social Anxiety
as a Mom

You know that mom that you've come across a few times who seems a little awkward, you're a little unsure about who she is and whether or not you kind of want to bring her in. Guess what? She's not stuck up. She's anxious.

By Dr. Charryse Johnson LCMHC NCC

Video Transcript:

Hey!

You know that mom that you’ve come across a few different times who seems a little awkward, you’re a little unsure about who she is and whether or not you kind of want to bring her in.

 

Guess what? She’s not stuck up. She’s anxious.

 

I’m Dr. Charryse Johnson, a licensed clinical mental health counselor and the founder of Jade Integrative Counseling and Wellness and let me tell you, social anxiety in the life and body of a mom is truly a struggle. Oftentimes when we as parents and as mothers are going into events, we’re thinking about all the things that need to be fixed, all the things that we want just right, which can also be a counterpart of social anxiety.

 

We’re also spending a lot of our time worried about talking to people that we don’t know or people that we haven’t connected with in a short amount of time, or sometimes a long amount of time, but the whole process of restarting, especially coming out of a season where we’ve been in and pulled back can create a lot of anxiety.

 

Social anxiety is fairly characterized just as it is. It’s an intense fear that you have, whether you feel it’s rational or irrational, that is centered around talking to people that you don’t know and then you add elements such as small talk and you may feel like you want to melt into the room.

 

People who suffer from social anxiety also are concerned, will they be embarrassed? Will they embarrass themselves? Will other people be able to see that they feel anxious? Here’s what this might look like when you’re interacting in a mom event. You may decide, “Hey, I’ll stay in the kitchen and I’ll help do something.” You can’t be still or you’d rather be around taking care of everyone else instead of just being still and in the moment and enjoying the conversation. A part of that can be a way of managing those nervous habits. Sometimes you might even tell yourself, “Oh no, I’m not anxious. I just like being busy and I’m used to moving all the time.”

Social anxiety is fairly characterized just as it is. It's an intense fear that you have, whether you feel it's rational or irrational, that is centered around talking to people that you don't know and then you add elements such as small talk and you may feel like you want to melt into the room.

- Dr. Charryse Johnson

But it’s important to know that if that constant thought and part of you that’s moving and doing all the time doesn’t allow you to really settle in and establish good community and relationships, then it’s something we want to work on. 

 

So here are a few things to consider as you move forward and really begin to think about, is that me that she’s talking about? 

  1. Bring someone with you that you know. There’s nothing wrong with pulling in another mom, someone that you know they’re well aware of how you feel to help anchor you in that moment, and then together you can move into new situations.
  2. Let people know how you feel. I get it. I recognize that it’s really scary, but what it does is it lets all the extroverts in the room who are ready to rock it, pull you in, but do it in a way that’s manageable for you.
  3. Instead of not going to the event, consider going to the event and then giving yourself a timetable or a time limit in, let’s say you want to go and you decide, “I’m going to go and I’ll stay for 30 minutes and then check in,” and see how you feel. If you’re still feeling sweaty and your heart rate and like you’re about to fall apart, you’ve done a great job, you’ve tried it and you can move on. But you just might find that you enjoy yourself and that eventually every motion that comes up must also come down and you’ll engage and get to know some of the people that you come to love and enjoy.

 

The most important thing to do is to start small and be consistent when you can stay in environments and social connections that are centered around a common love or a common desire, then you will find that the sky is the limit. Get out there, build community because as moms, we undoubtedly need each other!

Dr. Charryse Johnson is an experienced licensed clinical mental health therapist offering over 20 years of experience serving as a counselor, consultant, and educator. She holds a B.A. in Human Development, an M.A. in Professional Counseling, and a PhD in Counseling Psychology. She is a strong community advocate and has been a contributor on local radio, social media, local news outlets, and documentaries and is passionate about reducing the stigma around mental health. She is founder and owner of Jade Integrative Counseling and Wellness and author of Expired Mindsets.

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