What To Do About Holiday Social Anxiety

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Tis the season to be anxious, fa la la la la, la la la la. It is that time of year where people are putting on their happy faces and best dress for the few times out of the year the entire family gathers. But you won't let social anxiety take over the holidays. No, not this year. This will be the year you enjoy the company of the ones you love. There are several tricks you can use to get your head in the holiday game which includes things like safe, risk-free medicine and preparation.

Did You Know?

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD, how fitting) is the third largest mental health care problem in the entire world. It has been estimated that at any given point in time, 7% of the population is having social anxiety. So if you are worried about this holiday season, you are not alone.

SAD is described as being in fear of social situations where you have to interact with other people. Other people are pretty terrifying, but what exactly is so scary? It is often the racing thoughts that bring upon fear of being negatively judged or evaluated by other people. We are taught not to care what other people think, to just love ourselves and not worry about the people around us. But that way of thinking can go against biology.

We Need Eachother

Since we leave the womb, we are dependant on someone else. We need someone to feed us, bathe us, and make sure we don’t sleep wrong in the crib. From the beginning of our time, we need people for survival.

Imagine you live in a village in the middle of nowhere, and the tribe works together to sustain themselves without any outside resources. Each tribe member has their own job or duty that keeps the others alive and well. Now imagine in this same situation, social rejection. This could mean less food for your family or even less protection. Though most of us don’t live in these circumstances, the idea remains the same.

Social rejection at your job could end up meaning less food for your family. Social rejection within the family can result in a hostile living environment. There are consequences to social interactions, and that is where the fear festers.

If the consequences weren’t enough, the mind registers social pain in the same way it does physical pain. It is harder to point where on your body you hurt, but your brain still makes you feel it. Feeling this pain can make someone never want to have a social interaction again, because why would you put yourself in a situation to get hurt?

Traumatic social situations could cause someone to develop SAD, but it isn’t necessary for the disorder to appear. Many people can start seeing the onset of SAD, but most of them don’t get help. This disorder does not go away by itself. You need therapy and possibly medication to see the other side. But in order to get help, you need to know the signs to look for in you or even someone you care about.

Visual Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder

You can see symptoms of social anxiety in someone, maybe even before they realize it’s happening. Being aware of how someone with this disorder behaves is an excellent way to help them. If you are looking out for someone, make sure you make it easy to talk about. People with SAD want to be a part of social situations; it is just their anxiety that keeps them from joining in. If you are worried you are developing this disorder because of newly found social behaviors, do you feel uneasy during these common triggers?

Common Triggers For Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Meeting new people
  • Being teased
  • Being watched while doing something
  • Being criticized
  • Being the center of attention
  • Meeting a figure of authority
  • Have to speak publicly
  • Eye contact

People with Social Anxiety Disorder also feel insecure in social situations. Rehearsing what to say on the way in the car, or having no idea how to talk to anyone in general. They also get embarrassed exceptionally easy, which can make the disorder worse if put in a traumatic situation. Social Anxiety Disorder can make you unable to function in public. Making writing, talking, swallowing, and even making phone calls in public difficult.

Other Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder

  • High levels of fear
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Racing heart
  • Automatic negative thoughts that don’t stop
  • Blushing
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Sweating
  • Muscle twitches
  • Trembling

People with anxiety tend to know they are feeling irrational, but that doesn’t really help the situation. It’s always nice to know that the reality you live in isn’t real, of course, but it doesn’t make the feelings any less real. But this is all caused because of the overactivity in the brain, and there are ways to calm that down.

 

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical that is found in cannabis. The goal of medical marijuana is to interact with the endocannabinoid system, which is in charge of the entire body’s regulation. This system makes sure the metabolism works well, the acid in the blood is level and anything that the body needs to function correctly. When the endocannabinoid system malfunctions, this can cause disorders and diseases.

Unlike THC, CBD oil can’t get you high. You don’t have the same psychoactive response because CBD doesn’t bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain the way THC does. CBD actually activates and stimulates other receptors and chemicals around the cannabinoid receptors to activate the endocannabinoid system.

What Is The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is made up of receptors, metabolic enzymes, and endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoids are chemicals that the brain makes organically that are very similar to the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. This is why marijuana works so well and in so many different ways.

The cannabinoid receptors that are known and studied today are CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are all over the body, but more densely located in the brain. Its function is to control the nervous system. The CB2 receptors are spread evenly throughout the body with the control over immune functions.

The metabolic enzymes wear a couple of hats. They are the cleanup crew, making sure to get rid of chemicals in the brain that are no longer needed. Build up of proteins can cause diseases like Alzheimer’s, and the metabolic enzymes are there to make sure things like that don’t happen. They are also nurses. They help heal cells by promoting growth, repair, and run maintenance.

How Does CBD Help With Social Anxiety?

Normally, a conversation between neurons goes from the sending cell (presynaptic) to the receiving cell (postsynaptic). The presynaptic cell uses a small electrical pulse to send chemicals out into the synapse, which is the space between the cell, and the postsynaptic cell has receptors that bind to the chemicals.

Endocannabinoids are too cool to do what everyone else is doing. They travel from the receiving cell to the sending cell instead through retrograde signaling. The postsynaptic cell tells the presynaptic cell what it needs through the endocannabinoids, and this helps prevent overactivation. If your body doesn’t make enough endocannabinoids, your neurons could be sending overcharged signals to each other, making it lock up unable to function with all of the information. This is where hemp oil comes in.

When a neuron has too much information, it can shut down disrupting communication. We all have done it, been so overwhelmed we just have to turn off for a second and take a breath. The overstimulation is also what you feel during panic attacks or distress. All of those chemicals being thrown around in your brain makes you feel the way you do in a crowd.

CBD elevates the production of endocannabinoids that help your brain cells function correctly. For patients with anxiety disorders, CBD calmed down the hippocampus and the amygdala, which is where the anxiety comes from. Anxiety is a form of fear, and the amygdala is the pandora’s box of fear. It’s super tiny, but when it is overactive, people develop some of the worst paranoias and anxieties. CBD calms the stimulation, making the mind less muddled and more level.

When it comes to anxiety, medication is for easing the symptoms. No magical pill will cure anxiety forever, but there are plenty of medicines that make living through it more manageable. This can become debilitating because some of the drugs prescribed are addictive. Making anxiety that much harder to beat. Luckily, CBD is a medication that isn’t addictive and can help with anxiety throughout the day as well as in a pinch.

Preparing For The Social Interaction

After you have your CBD and your brain is nice and logical, you can begin preparing for the social interaction. Social anxiety is fueled by fear, and the best way to conquer it is by facing it. This does not mean walk into a room full of people in a ridiculous sweater so every eye is on you and you boil under pressure. It means take baby steps today so that when you are put in larger situations tomorrow, they aren’t as scary.

Baby steps could be going to the store once a day until the holiday greed gets too much and the Christmas cheer fills the toy aisles. Throughout the time it takes for the festivities to get here you can be working on your social interactions. Make eye contact with people during conversation. They won't think its weird unless they are socially anxious as well, and in that case, there’s a friend you secretly made.

Go for a walk, and take the time to recognize that anyone who sees you has no idea how anxious you are. Realize the fears that you have are false, and through small tiny victories, you can build your way up to the big day.

When you go to the parties or dinners that you have to make an appearance at, don’t be scared to take CBD tinctures or e-cigarettes with you. When your heart starts racing, and you can feel the blood rushing to your face, take a moment to medicate. Not only will it take you out of the situation, making it easier to think clearly, you’ll also calm down.

After The Holidays

Your next step after getting CBD for your anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Studies have shown that it is the most effective form of therapy for SAD. This disorder will not just go away, and hiding behind medicine only works for so long. To truly free yourself from this particular disorder, you have to work for it.  

If you are thinking about making any changes to your medication, make sure to talk to a doctor to find the right ways to make the transition and for a second opinion to make sure the switch is right for you. Then check out our shop to find the solution that works best for you!

Sarah Potts

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