9 Ways To Manage Social Anxiety During The Holidays

woman outside in coat holiday shopping

I approach the holidays with a sense of trepidation every year. I get to our large annual family Christmas gathering and struggle with the small talk and the added attention in brings. How is the job going? What have you been doing the last year? How do you like the city? What have you been writing? Are you dating anyone? Oh no. The way I stutter and stammer and try to hide in a corner with just the baked goods for company, I may as well be the grinch.

While I love the festive spirit, getting to see family and friends who live far away, and picking out gifts for everyone I love, there’s no denying my anxiety can outshine all the holiday cheer. Enter the difficult combination of social anxiety and the holidays. Continue reading 9 Ways To Manage Social Anxiety During The Holidays

12 Things I Wish I Could Have Said to My Fiancé When I Was Crushed by Anxiety

anxious man with head in hands

This piece was first published on The Good Men Project, a publication that offers enlightened masculinity and stories from men.

1. I want to be strong, but I can’t.

On the days when I was really struggling, I simply could not muster up the strength to even get out of bed. I would for fear that you would resent me. I wanted so badly to be the man you needed, but I was broken and I had no clue how to fix myself.

2. When you cry, it destroys me.

On the days when you could no longer handle the person I had become and broke down, my heart broke into a thousand different pieces. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. I was empty inside. Continue reading 12 Things I Wish I Could Have Said to My Fiancé When I Was Crushed by Anxiety

How I Finally Learned to Manage My Anxiety While Traveling

aerial view of plane wing and New York City below

How many trips does it take to remember that packing only hours before a flight is an anxiety trigger? At least one more, I guess, because there I was, stuffing clothes into my suitcase and sporadically scanning a list of items I needed to bring.

The feeling that I must be forgetting something carried over to the wee hours of the morning when I opened my phone to call a taxi. Confirming the ride only made the anxiety come on stronger. In a few minutes I’d be out the door and out of luck if I had indeed forgotten something.

Waiting at the gate, I was mentally bouncing back and forth between what I could have left and the problems that could come up during travel. Would I arrive OK? Would there be delays? Will I miss my connection? Will there be taxis available if I arrive late? Am I going to get stuck next to somebody who snores on the plane?

The questions of worry flowed freely through my mind. Continue reading How I Finally Learned to Manage My Anxiety While Traveling

Dating Someone With Social Anxiety: 6 Tips from a Therapist

woman putting on lipstick man getting dressed before going out

It’s hard to have social anxiety. You feel like everyone is judging you, and you’re frequently uncomfortable in your own skin. It can also be difficult to date someone who suffers from social anxiety. Sometimes it can seem like your life is being constricted in ways you didn’t sign up for, and that issue can lead to resentment and irritation. Here are some tips to keep in mind when your partner has social anxiety, so the relationship can withstand the pressure of this disorder.

1. Try Hard to Empathize With Your Partner

You may not have social anxiety, but do you have any other issues you wish you didn’t have, or that you are actively working on improving? Most people wish they were different in some way or other. For instance, if you struggle with ADHD, it is useful to compare the conditions in your mind, saying, “I don’t try to forget things, and my partner isn’t trying to be scared of social situations. We both struggle.” Continue reading Dating Someone With Social Anxiety: 6 Tips from a Therapist

My Holiday Anxiety Around Eating and Body Issues

thanksgiving feast family passing plates

The spread is incredible — juicy dark meat turkey, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, those brussel sprouts my brother prepares that make them actually taste delicious, candied sweet potatoes — and we haven’t even gotten to dessert, my favorite part of every meal, especially when seasonal pies are involved.

My eyes feast on the meal, but inside my anxiety starts to edge its way into my mind. How much can I put on my plate this Thanksgiving and still feel like I won’t be judged for how much or what I am eating? Can I afford to eat two slices of pie, or do I need to stick with just one to keep up appearances? Am I making enough of a show of restraint in comparison to my BMI for the extended family members at the table so I won’t feel judged? Continue reading My Holiday Anxiety Around Eating and Body Issues

How the Right Song Can Help You Manage Anxiety

happy woman using headphones and listening to music

Maya Benattar is a licensed psychotherapist in New York City. Her office looks like the typical therapist’s office — calm and quiet, comfortable seating, soothing lighting. The perfect place to work through difficult feelings of anxiety and depression.

But a few items might catch your eye: a piano, drums, a guitar, and various other music-making tools. Not things you’d typically expect to see in a therapy setting.

That’s because Benattar — in addition to her credentials as a psychotherapist — is also a board-certified music therapist. Continue reading How the Right Song Can Help You Manage Anxiety

Ask a Therapist: Anxiety is Tearing My Boyfriend and I Apart

couple arguing outside on city street

Talkspace is pleased to continue our advice column, this week with therapist Dr. Samantha Rodman. Send your mental health questions for Samantha to [email protected].

Dating Drama writes,

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost three months. In the beginning, everything was perfect, but then it’s like a huge storm came and destroyed our relationship. I am trying to help him deal with his severe anxiety, and we constantly fight all day. He accuses me of doing things wrong when I do nothing. I understand I have flaws and faults from the past (before we were together), but I am not the same person as I was when he first met me. I’m constantly being insulted and being accused of these ridiculous things. He even blamed me for what someone else posted on their social media. Continue reading Ask a Therapist: Anxiety is Tearing My Boyfriend and I Apart

Can Childhood Traumas Cause Panic Disorder?

mother and father arguing sad daughter with teddy bear

I’ve had severe panic attacks on and off since I was 16 years old. Although I may never be able to pinpoint their exact cause, I’ve long suspected that some of the traumas I experienced as a child (divorce, abandonment, custody battles, and verbal abuse) contributed to my panic disorder.

Recently, though, my therapist mentioned something in passing that illuminated the whole phenomenon for me in an entirely different way. She said that when we hold our emotions inside, they tend to kind of morph into conditions like anxiety and panic.

A lightbulb went off in my brain then: I could picture myself, a young girl, witnessing and experiencing all sort of things that I now know were most certainly traumatic, and basically just standing there absorbing them all. I was always the “good girl,” whom everyone thought was so resilient despite all the difficult things that were unfolding. Continue reading Can Childhood Traumas Cause Panic Disorder?

Mental Health In Bed: Sex and Anxiety

woman with sex anxiety and man in bed

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve set the scene, the mood is right, you fall into bed with your partner and then the anxiety starts: What if I’m doing this wrong? What if I hurt them? What if I get hurt?

This is how sex in a past relationship always went for me. Everything would be right. I would tell myself I would stay calm this time, and then the anxiety crept in anyway, building like a crescendo until the only thing climaxing was my panic.

I could never get past the anxiety long enough to let go and fully be with the person I loved. I tensed up, clammed up, and in the end, neither of us had a satisfying experience. I didn’t know how to talk to my partner about the anxiety because I thought it was a problem I needed to fix alone — as opposed to something we could work on together. As a result, our love life fizzled and eventually went out. Continue reading Mental Health In Bed: Sex and Anxiety

I’m A Worrier, But Maybe That’s Not Such A Bad Thing

worried red headed woman with hand on chin

I worry. A lot. About the little things, like whether my kids are coming down with pneumonia, or if we have enough milk left for breakfast tomorrow morning. And about the big things, like whether I will lose any of my freelance work, or whether our house will flood during the next hurricane.

I spend nights up worrying about the even bigger things too. I wonder if one day my kids will live in a world without hate, and I worry that our planet is going to go kaput sooner rather than later as a result of climate change.

Usually, I think of my worrying as one of my worst traits (yes, I worry about my worry, too), and something that I should probably work on eliminating from my life. But recent research points to the idea that maybe being a bit of a worrier can actually be a good thing. Continue reading I’m A Worrier, But Maybe That’s Not Such A Bad Thing