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« Social anxiety in mothers: Be prepared, by Rachel Green »

Written by Rachel Green. Your smart emotions coach: Helping people find positive outcomes from uneasy emotions. Director of The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She has cured herself of panic attacks through meditation.

Social anxiety in mothers: Be prepared

Mothers with social anxiety are not unusual. In fact you can find mothers with social anxiety in the play-group, picking up their children after school and attending the sports carnival. Mothers with social anxiety are just like other people with social anxiety - they are anxious about social situations and interacting with other people.

Being a parent means you can be constantly thrust into social situations. If you have social anxiety this can become an ordeal and leave you feeling self-conscious, anxious and distressed.

Of course, being a parent necessitates meeting other mums and dads. For example, when your child wants to stay over at his mate's place you have to take him and meet his friend's parents. It's hard to avoid this as a mum (or dad), yet it can be frightening if you have social anxiety.

Similarly, if you have social anxiety, meeting the other parents picking up their children outside school can cause anxiety. So can meeting your child's teacher, volunteering for the school canteen duties, or going to a networking social with other parents and teachers.

If you have social anxiety take hope. There are many skills that can be learnt to reduce it so meeting people can become easier. Of the many steps that can be taken, let's look at one absolutely crucial one.

Mothers with social anxiety: Prepare topics beforehand

One of the first steps in combating social anxiety is to have the conversation skills you need when meeting people. It's bad enough feeling self-conscious about meeting new people without also not knowing what to do or say.  

Learn the conversation skills you need and take one level of anxiety out of your social anxiety mix.

There are many different conversation skills you can learn to diminish your social anxiety. One of them is knowing good topics to talk about, and then preparing these BEFORE you meet people.

For example, if you are driving to meet your child from school and you have social anxiety, and you know there will be a group of other mums and dads standing by the school gates as you arrive, prepare some topics to talk about BEFORE you get there.  

Don't wait until you arrive and your social anxiety kicks in to suddenly expect yourself to know what to say. The topics will not suddenly arrive if you are anxious. Instead you will find yourself squirming as yet another awkward silence looms.

Anxiety can be very energy draining. Is your anxiety wearing you out? If so, you might like to learn how to meditate. I find meditation calms me down and gives me more energy. I recommend our "Happy not hassled" MP3s to you. The meditations are the ones I used to help me overcome my panic attacks.

MP3s $29(US) Add to Cart

Mothers with social anxiety: What topics to talk about

If you have thought of some topics to talk about BEFORE arriving talking can be a lot easier.  Prepare topics in advance and there will be less reason for your social anxiety to build.

I said this to a woman recently and she sent me an email afterwards saying how surprised she was that anyone prepared for a conversation. She thought that it was a great idea and would make conversations so much easier for her.

Yes! Preparing topics in advance can make it much easier for mothers with or without social anxiety.

So what could you talk about when you have social anxiety? This will depend on the age of your children, the age and gender of the parents, how well you know them, what kind of school the children are going to, where you live, and so on.

One key thing is to find topics that you have in common. This can make it much easier to interact with other mothers even if you have social anxiety.

Possible topics could be your children, their children, other people's children, children growing up, disciplining children, the school, subjects the children are studying, sports at the school, other schools in the area and how they compare, bullying at the school, a school event such as the swimming carnival or the assembly, the teachers, the suburb you live in, events in the community such as Australia Day, local items in the community newspaper, and so on.

Even if you are a mother with social anxiety it's possible to start the conversation by saying something like, "I hear there's a new teacher, what kinds of things have you heard about her?" Or, "I've just heard about the fundraiser, what are your thoughts about it?"

Mothers with social anxiety: Topics other than children

Alternatively, you may prepare topics in advance that don't focus on the children. Mothers with social anxiety don't just have to talk about children or schools! 

To make it as easy as possible for your social anxiety to fade, prepare topics that are positive and about which the people you meet will be enthusiastic. Favourite holidays and travel experiences are both usually really good topics as most people like to travel and have been somewhere.

Of course, fashion, food, diets, music, men, television and sport are also popular topics. Did you know that netball has the highest rate of participation of any other sport in Australia? There's a talking topic! There are so many topics you can choose from to prepare.

When you prepare topics in advance you have one fewer thing to worry about, so that even if you are a mother with social anxiety, meeting other people can be easier and you experience less social anxiety. You win on both fronts - easier interactions and less social anxiety!

Are you a mother with social anxiety? Tell us your stories, topics and tips when talking to others, let's get together to beat social anxiety.

If you are finding your anxiety is exhausting you and stopping you sleeping or thinking straight, you might like to learn how to meditate. If so, I recommend our "Happy not hassled" MP3 recordings to you. The meditations are the ones I used to help me overcome my panic attacks.

MP3s $29(US) Add to Cart


NB: Any information contained in this article is not provided as an alternative to the obtaining of psychological advice from an appropriately qualified practitioner. Rachel is not a psychologist, Dr or psychiatrist. If you have significant anxiety please seek professional help and do not rely on this for the diagnosis or treatment of any psychological or anxiety problems.