Looking for an anxiety challenge list for your exposure therapy and to manage your social anxiety?
Earlier this year, I posted some social anxiety challenges to kickstart 2019 because I always need to keep challenging my social anxiety, no matter how much I have it under control. That’s actually how I keep it under control and prevent myself from slipping back into my old habits.
However, I do remember what it’s like to not feel anywhere near ready to take on those kind of challenges.
I used to be housebound because of my severe social anxiety disorder and I had 9 years of therapy.
After a few years of talking therapies, I did Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which included some exposure therapy and that was the thing that really clicked for me.
It didn’t work the first time I tried it, despite doing it for a year the first time round and I think that’s because I really wasn’t open to it and kept telling my therapist that I was fine, instead of being honest about my feelings and my limitations.
By the second try, I was ready to properly give it a go and to be open and honest in my therapy. Yes, the challenges laid out for me still made me feel sick and gave me those dreaded knots in my stomach but I was desperate to beat my social anxiety, so I gave it everything I had.
I gave up a number of times on completing my therapy homework and doing the exposures set out for me but I got back up the next day and tried again. It’s okay to have bad days, recovery isn’t a straight and narrow road. There will be ups and downs but I believe persistence is the key.
The big thing I struggled with at the time, was coming up with challenges to set myself for my exposure therapy.
Maybe you’re the same, perhaps you’re in therapy and need some suggestions on which exposures to try or maybe you’re not having therapy but want to try some exposure therapy at home?
Either way, I have come up with an anxiety challenge list specifically for social anxiety exposures. These are some of the exercises I did to try and manage my social anxiety but you can adapt them to suit your needs better.
Anxiety Challenge List For Social Anxiety Exposures
- Unlock the front door without waiting for any cars or people to have disappeared from the street first – you don’t need to actually open the door until you are comfortable, just try unlocking it to start with.
- Move on to opening the door, just stand in the doorway for 2 seconds or place something in your recycling bin if you need to look busy. If you can’t open the door all the way, try just opening it ajar first.
- Open the curtains/blinds in the room you are most likely to be seen by people walking by your house.
- Open the door to a delivery
- Use the phone even just to call an automated service
- When you’re comfortable enough with that, try calling a number to ask a very easy to answer question, like calling a supermarket to ask their closing time.
- Invite someone over for an hour tops. Challenge yourself more each time by extending the activity, by not cleaning up your house as much, by not rehearsing as many things to talk about.
- If you have a back garden that’s overlooked by other houses, try spending 10 minutes out there at a time. Hang up some washing or sit and listen to music with headphones.
- Once you get comfortable with that, try spending a bit more time out there. Perhaps mow the grass if you have any or read a chapter of a book.
- Send an email you have been putting off.
- Open a Facebook or WhatsApp message before reading it in the notification bar, so they know you have seen it before you think of a response.
- Talk a little bit louder in public so that people nearby might hear parts of your conversation.
- When you’re going to buy something, pay for it in cash but don’t have the change ready. Wait until you’re told the amount before getting out the money.
- Answer your phone when it rings instead of letting it go to voicemail.
- Walk a short distance from your house.
- Posting a status on Facebook without checking it over first or deleting it.
- Comment on something on social media that’s set to public so that there is a chance your friends list might see it.
- Message someone you haven’t spoke to in a while.
- Talk to someone about your social anxiety.
- Use a public toilet.
- Ask someone a question in a conversation.
- Order a takeaway over the phone instead of online. Write down your order so that you remember what to say and then when you are comfortable with doing that, try to call the order through without practicing or writing it down first.
- If you do anything arty, post your work in a group or forum and ask for a constructive critique.
Well there you have it, that’s my anxiety challenge list for social anxiety exposures. If you have any other ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Remember that treatment for social anxiety is not a one size fits all approach. This sort of thing might work for you, it might not but if it doesn’t then please don’t think you have failed. You haven’t failed. It just means it isn’t the right approach for you or you’ve gone into a situation that is too much for you right now. Don’t forget to take small baby steps and only do what you feel is within your ability and always discuss treatments with your doctor.
Have you tried any of your own challenges? I’d love to hear all about it!
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