I recently attended a “Mums meet up” hosted by Mama Society. I had an amazing time and when I posted about it, I couldn’t believe how many private messages I had from other mums saying how much they would love to attend a social event, however, they felt too anxious and nervous. It saddened me because, I had such a great time. I would love other mums to feel confident enough to attend a baby class or a mums meet up event.
At the same time, I truly understand the challenges you can face with feeling nervous and anxious, to throw yourself into the deep end and go in a room full of people you have never even met before.
Just because you have anxiety- does not mean anxiety is all you are
A little background on myself. After suffering from social anxiety for years now I feel that I have started to turn a corner with myself and realise that just because I have attended therapy sessions and have had medication for anxiety, the label “anxiety” is not who I am and not my personality.
Confidence boosting tips for attending a baby class/social event
I thought I would share with you some of my favourite ways to help combat the feeling of being nervous or anxious before a baby class or a social event and hopefully I will at least help someone reading this.
- Plan. Plan everything either the night before or two days before. Even down to your outfit and your child’s outfit, what they will have for their breakfast, dinner or snacks and anything they might need there. Having a full plan will help you to feel like you have control over what you can control, resulting in confidence. If you wake up late, everything will all be planned for you to focus on straight away and get going. Or if you wake up feeling anxious, you have a plan to stick to, which will help your mind not wander off thinking the worst of everything which may result in you talking yourself out of going.
- Arrive early. I love trying (I say trying because we all know how hard this is with a child) to arrive early for a class or event I am attending for the first time because, for me personally, journeys to new places are extremely stressful. It is like I get myself that worked up, parking my car in a space takes me 100 manoeuvres. Giving yourself time to chill out before you head in and beat the rush of all the other mums parking and fighting for a space will help you to feel more relaxed.
- Another reason to arrive early. If you are early or on time, you are more likely to be one of the first mums there. You will have more options on where you want to sit, get your child sorted incase they need a quick change before the starting time. But, most importantly, you are not going to be walking into a room full of people, with all eyes on you, feeling the judgement. (Even though no mum will actually be judging. Your anxiety will somehow convince yourself that they are). I personally find it easier to greet a mum walking in, than having to walk up to what looks like an established conversation between two people and have to stand their awkwardly smiling until you think of something interesting to say.
- Avoid Caffeine. Dare I say it, coffee is not your friend (in this case). Why? Caffeine is a stimulant. That is not going to help someone with anxiety. Caffeine’s effects on your body are similar to those of a frightening event. Caffeine stimulates your “fight or flight” response, and studies show that this can make anxiety worse and can even trigger an anxiety attack.
- Questions. Have an idea on what questions to ask the other mums. Take the opportunity to get to know them. Find out what their interests are and you will probably see how similar they are to you. Remember that not all mums want to attend a social event and talk about their babies and some mums all they want to do is talk about their babies. So if you feel that the conversation is awkward, just change the subject and don’t take the bad response personally.
- Try again. Once I attended a class at a local church, where I did not feel comfortable. AT ALL. It was one of the first classes I attended as a new mum, living in a new area. I left half way through as my anxiety got the better of me. I sat in my car and burst into tears – even took a selfie, to look back on as one of my lows and know that one day I would laugh and not take the experience personally.The feeling of being anxious and having my expectations crushed on baby classes combined with the guilt of not being a good mum to Mole crushed me. I was super firm on myself to try a different class elsewhere, I did and LOVED it. Fast forward a few months, I attended that class I originally felt so crappy at to give it a second chance. I hated it. The same thing happened again. I left half way and cried in my car. The point I am trying to make is, some classes/events will be for you and some won’t. It does not make you a bad mum if you need to leave and give yourself time. Remember, if you have made the big enough step to even make it out of the house, praise yourself.
- Wear your confident hat. A trick I learnt from drama classes. Pretend you are wearing an invisible confident hat. Sounds very silly doesn’t it? Believing you are confident, standing tall, smiling, making eye contact and asking open ended questions will make you look very approachable, friendly and most important make you feel like you actually are a confident person; even though you may have lived however many years of your life labelling yourself as shy.
Give it a go
Hopefully these tips come in use for you and you feel that you can attend a class/event. Attending will be worth your while. I have met some amazing people I can call my friends and I have been able to see my daughter enjoy herself too.
Images by https://www.truelightphotography.net/