It’s the modern malaise of our times. Social anxiety is not something you have to deal with alone…because undoubtedly you know someone else with the same worries and concerns. Even model Bella Hadid recently admitted to feeling the pressures of social anxiety to her followers. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender or status.
The rise of social media, new flexible working-patterns and increasingly international, always-on nature of our lives has meant that social anxiety is steadily rising. The phrase, barely used 20 years ago, means quite literally “a fear of any situations in which interactions with other people are required”. Many suggest it is the overstimulation we bombard ourselves with daily and the hyper-connected world we inhabit that has given rise to these unpleasant feelings of stress whilst in a social setting. The feelings can range from agitation and distraction, to an elevated heart rate or headaches, to depression or even a panic attack. And it can manifest in socially anxious behaviours such as not returning phone calls, avoiding leaving the house and distancing from your friends. Physically, anxiety can cause stomach pain, headaches and sweating from stress.
But how to overcome social anxiety? There are many self-help apps for anxiety, books and podcasts for self help, but to deal with social anxiety is a complex issue and best approached flexibly and using more than one technique. At Dreem Distillery we believe in a holistic, healthy approach to wellbeing: good sleep is at the bedrock of good health, as is regular exercise, eating well and good old fresh air. Sunlight is absolutely vital; many of the positive physiological processes in the body rely on it, and in turn being outside in the daytime lowers the blood pressure and regulates our sleep hormones. Naturally we are sleep obsessives at Dreem Distillery and have researched sleep and all its nuances thoroughly. We believe (and know!) that sleep is at the heart of good health, and to get this linchpin working well you can have a positive catalyst effect on your wellbeing. We all know anecdotally how much easier life feels to navigate when we have slept well. Our research has made clear that calming social anxiety at night is a huge concern for many, many people, especially those experiencing the peri-menopause, working shifts where sleep patterns are disrupted and those undergoing exam pressure. It is often at night that anxiety becomes expressed, even if the day has passes without incident. In these moments, it can feel utterly overwhelming. And a solution is required, fast.
So how to calm anxiety quickly? We created Dreem Distillery’s Night Drops expressly for swiftly bringing about a relaxed state. They contain potent levels of CBD extract and terpenes, which are adaptive botanical extracts, which are well-researched to act on anxiety pathways. Our CBD drops, deposited under the tongue, can reach the blood stream quickly and work to soothe the neural pathways that are triggering anxiety. That uncomfortable, restless, insistent negative feeling has quite literally been proven to be eased by the effect of CBD on anxiety.
We know CBD can help to ease the symptoms of social anxiety, proven time and time again in research studies, so we have the evidence but how exactly does CBD work to alleviate the symptoms of social anxiety? CBD does this in three ways, firstly CBD stimulates the production of Anandamide, an endocannabinoid produced by the body that interacts with CB1 receptors. Cannabinoid receptors, like CB1 receptors, are located all throughout the brain and are involved in many different processes, including modulating mood. Anxiety disorders, including social anxiety can be caused by a decrease of CB1 receptors in the brain, as well as an increase in the production of an enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), that is responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoid Anandamide. By stimulating the production of Anandamide, which inhibits the activity of FAAH, and results in an increase in Anandamide to stimulate CB1 receptors, restoring the endocannabinoid system.
Secondly, CBD can directly affect certain serotonin receptors that are thought to be involved in anxiety and depression. Serotonin, more commonly known as the happy hormone, is one the key hormones that stabilises our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Although CBD doesn’t necessarily increase serotonin, it affects how our brain chemical receptors respond to the supply already within our system. When we’re stressed, it’s a sign that our serotonin system is out of balance. CBD aids in restoring balance and the stimulation of serotonin receptors. Neuroscientist Yasmin Hurd in her TED talk explains, ‘’The brain is about a symphony; CBD can bring the entire symphony into harmony’’.
Finally, CBD can work to lower blood pressure, which results in reducing feelings of anxiety. In stressful situations, in response our bodies go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. In this state, blood pressure is increased, causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow, heightening the feelings of anxiousness. Studies have found that a single dose of CBD can be effective in reducing blood pressure levels, which has a calming effect.
There are many resources to turn to for social anxiety self help too, from support groups, to books to podcasts. Here we have gathered together some of our favourites to calm down anxiety to a normal level - because of course a little, now and again, is completely normal.
Here at Dreem Distillery, we acknowledge the mighty connection between the mind and wellbeing. Specifically the power of positive thoughts, one of our favourite ways to practice mindfulness at Dreem Distillery is the use of positive affirmations. Positive affirmations, are simply positive phrases or statements used to challenge negative or unwanted thoughts. Positive affirmations work by disrupting often subconscious patterns of negative thoughts, by replacing them with positive statements. To some, it may sound a little hocus-pocus, however positive affirmation are nothing new in the realm of positive psychology. One of the key psychological theories that supports positive affirmations is the self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988). Empirical studies, have found that, we can maintain our sense of self-integrity by telling ourselves (or affirming) what we believe in positive ways. Positive affirmation is truly a practice that works. Try our simple and effective DREEM affirmations:
- Being present is being connected to all things
- Stillness is where creativity and solutions are found
- In this moment nothing else matters
- Don’t carry what you don’t need
- Your future depends on your dreams
- The greatest responsibility is to love yourself