Colleen Hayes is the Founder and CEO of Prezence, a digital wellness app available to download through Gympass. 

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Navigating a more “normal” world

It’s in the low 80’s on a beautiful Charleston day and I’m headed to my first “big event” since the Covid-19 global pandemic started. One of my dear friends is about to be married to the love of her life, and I am very excited to wear my brand new Charleston hot pink dress. I get ready with my girlfriends, hop in our Uber, and head on over to the venue.

The event is flawlessly decorated from the gorgeous fans placed on every chair to the stylish blue napkins splashed on the table against nude and earthy tones. This wedding was perfection. Despite the beauty around me, I couldn’t help but notice a feeling growing inside of me — quickened breathing, a tightness in my chest, and an unquenchable thirst. I quickly realized that sipping on wine wasn’t really going to cut it, and a quick switch over to water was in order. In bringing my awareness to the moment, I noticed that I was experiencing social anxiety.

Anyone else identify with this experience? 

Finding tools for managing social anxiety

We’re all slowly but surely working our way back into some semblance of normalcy as the world begins to reopen, yet some of us can’t help but experience this same set of emotions. Guess what — you are not alone.

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Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States. It’s hard to provide an exact number, since so many people go undiagnosed. Place a global pandemic on top of it – and we have a molotov cocktail for the figures that exist to skyrocket.

You know what else is true? I believe that at this moment we are more prepared than ever to manage our anxiety. The number of tools that exist like Prezence is growing every day. Here’s my hot take on managing social anxiety as the world reopens.

1. Take breaks

Remember the wedding from up above? I consciously took several breaks for water or a ladies room session. This short time away from the group helped me shift an evening that felt anxious into one of the most fun nights of my life. I ended up dancing the night away with my friends and enjoying every second of watching the beautiful couple celebrate their love.

2. Say no

A couple of weekends ago I practiced my boundary setting hard. I needed some serious alone time to recharge my batteries and said no to a number of social opportunities. This time alone was incredibly helpful. Say no to whatever you need to to protect and manage your anxiety.

3. Use your tools

Try box breathing or a meditation on Prezence when you need help staying connected to the moment. Anxiety can shift a single thought into a scary loop. I recommend box breathing (four count inhale, four count hold, four count exhale, four count hold) or the “Breathwork for Stress Release” meditation on Prezence by Catie Macken, Chief Product Officer at Prezence.

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Let me know how these tips support you during difficult times! We can chat on Instagram via my page @collhayes.

Sending you all a deep breath, compassion, and lots of love as you transition back into life as we know it.