As a highly sensitive person, I’ve dealt with anxiety for the greater part of my life; if you’re reading this I get the sense you have too! I have to be real with you; sometimes I am good at coping and other times I’ve struggled when I don’t have a plan or my go-to's to help me cope. I’ve learned a few tricks over the past few years for coping with anxiety in public, and they may help you too!
Pop your headphones in and put on music, a podcast or audiobook and drown out the noise of the world. Headphones help distract you from conversations happening around you that may cause tension or anxiety. We’ve all been there on the subway or waiting in a doctor’s office where you hear a conversation between two people that may cause some anxiety and stress, and you carry around that anxiety for the rest of the day, no fun!
Take medication or a supplement:
For those of us who find it hard to leave the house because our anxiety is provoked by specific public places (grocery store, mall or concert), it may be necessary for some anxious HSPs to take anxiety medication. While I don’t take anti-anxiety medication, I do take a small dose of a beta blocker when going to larger events and places I know my anxiety will pop up. The beta blocker helps to keep my heart rate and blood pressure at a regular rate, which keeps me relaxed.
Have a plan:
For anxious people like myself, the best way to help manage anxiety is to know what I am getting myself into. For example, I am going to a musical with friends; I want to know how to get there, reserve parking in advance, bring snacks, know when the show starts and ends, and communicate in advance whether or not I will be going to dinner after. Having a plan and knowing the details of your outing will calm anxious thoughts and help to avoid last minute disasters!
Take a breath:
If you find yourself at an event and you are completely overwhelmed about to have a panic attack, step away from the event by going outside or to the restroom- anywhere you can breathe and collect yourself will help. Sometimes we HSPs just get overwhelmed with what is going around us even if it is a fun event like a concert or a play that the anxiety will just hit us. Know it is okay for you to take a few minutes to yourself and return when you feel ready to do so.
These are just a few things that help me navigate going to public outings as an HSP with anxiety. I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!
Amanda Shea is the founder of Voices of Mental Health. She is a mental and self-care advocate, conscious content creator, and business owner. She is a regular contributor to Boston Green Blog. Amanda resides in the Greater Boston area with her partner, Casey, and pups, Bernadette and Teddy.