In Psychology Today, “Flavors of Reclusiveness”, the article discusses different types of reclusive styles that people might exhibit. This article caught my interest since a symptom of my bipolar is social anxiety. As a result of this kind of anxiety, I often find myself avoiding contact with other people like the plague.
Variations of Reclusiveness
In the article, the author states the following types of recluses:
- The pure recluses are individuals who are basically hermits and have no contact with civilization.
- There is also the work alone/play with others recluse. At work you find yourself being a loner and working maybe as a writer or a contractor. On your free time, you prefer to be social.
- Then there is the work social/play alone type of recluse. This person enjoys team work at the office, but would rather go on a one-person ski trip over the weekend than a huge group ski trip. You might like taking a solo sabbatical where you go on a vacation or retreat all by yourself.
- Episodic recluses opt out of the social atmosphere for chunks at a time. It could be after a divorce, a breakup or being released from a job. During this time this person might want to spend time with books, movies, TV, music, a pet or the outdoors.
My Personal Struggles
Do any of the above resonate with you? Do you find yourself retreating from the company of others? I want social interaction on my own terms. My need for social interaction waxes and wanes with my level of anxiety. I can go to a support group and talk to friends with no problem. However, when I have had enough socializing, I am out the door in a flash. On some days, I could go an entire day at work being unnoticed by the people around me and I would be just fine. On other days, I do not mind chit-chatting.
Just the other day I was at a café waiting for my drink that I had ordered. More and more people came and stood around me waiting for their drinks, too. As the crowd thickened, my anxiety escalated. My eyes darted around from person to person wanting desperately to retreat to the secluded area where my husband was seated. I felt like crawling out of my skin.
There are some methods that I use to counteract the anxiety. Whether you are an actual recluse or suffer like me from social anxiety, I believe there are some ways that can help decrease your anxiety and help you in a situation where you find yourself needing to be social or needing to adjust to the environment in order to minimize the anxiety.
Usually when my social anxiety kicks in, my breathing becomes shallow and my breathing quickens. Try to get your breathing under control by taking deep cleansing breaths in and out. Focus on your breathing and the action of your lungs filling up and your diaphragm lifting. This will help slow your heartrate down and help you to concentrate on something neutral and not on the anxiety provoking situation.
Make Alternative Arrangements
Being in a crowded auditorium or theatre could leave your palms sweating profusely. Make alternative arrangements. If you can sit outside the auditorium and still see what is going on inside, you can observe from a location that has fewer people and is not as overwhelming. Sit in the aisle seat so you can get up and leave when the anxiety gets too much for you. Or you can sit in the back.
Do not Suffer Alone
If you do not already have a therapist, find one today. They can help you with more specific tools to your situation. Also, tell a trusted friend. If this person is with you when you are in a situation that causes you to withdraw, tell them. Let them know you feel anxious and overwhelmed and you need to take a break from the situation.
Shop at Different Times
Shop when the stores are not overcrowded with people. I know this is difficult at Christmas time. However on a day-to-day basis, you have an idea of the busier times at the mall and grocery store. Try to go at times when they are less crowded.
How About You?
I hope these suggestions help you. They have helped me along my journey with social anxiety. I would like to know how you cope with reclusiveness or social anxiety or if you have tried any of these methods. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.