Hello, and thank you for reaching out to us!
That’s a very good question. Social anxiety is frustrating when you want to equate yourself with your peers, but you fear those kind of environments. We are social creatures after all, and not being able to be as social as one desires can be quite hindering. Being in a foreign country, I’d imagine, would only worsen the situation, as you might have a different culture, language, and/or way of acting compared to the locals and residents.
In regards to coping with this anxiety, what works for you will be different from what works for others. In general, a good approach may be to first consider how you cope with this anxiety in your current home country, and then see if that could apply in the foreign country. This way, you can try to utilize strategies that have already worked for you in the past to see if they apply to the present.
If you’re looking for suggestions on how to cope with social anxiety, then try first considering what it is about social situations that gives you anxiety. Starting up the conversation, language, maintaining the conversation, making small talk, being personal, etc. A combination of these aspects could be giving you anxiety, or perhaps even all of them. Whatever the case may be, consider what you could do to minimize that anxiety before and during conversations. For example, if you struggle with making small talk, then you could perhaps brainstorm some general questions to ask others in case you find yourself needing to make small talk so that you have an idea of how to maintain the natural flow of conversation. If language barriers are the issue, then perhaps brainstorm what you could do before making conversation with someone to address that barrier. This could maybe be addressed by learning how to say that you cannot speak the language in that language just to avoid those awkward conversations where you cannot respond in the correct language.
As you can see, there are a lot of possibilities in regards to trying to address social in your own personalized way, and that starts with reflection and proactively trying to improve your social skills. If anything, remember that social situations are uncomfortable for many people, and you’re not alone with your anxiety. The fact that you’re reaching out for help to improve your social skills and your ability to cope with them says a lot. Growing and improving often requires one to be uncomfortable, so trying to plan your strategies beforehand can go a long way.
With that being said, check up on yourself every now and then and see how you’re doing. We all need breaks, so make sure you give yourself a break from uncomfortable social situations to just relax. Perhaps you can try to engage in some hobbies or pastimes to just distract yourself from your social anxiety. How does that sound?
By all means, if you have any other concerns or would like to discuss the topic further, please reach out to ConnecTeen directly by phone at 403-264-8336 or by text at 587-333-2724. I hope at least some of these strategies prove useful!