The Student Room Group

Anyone here who has volunteered with social anxiety?

I do have a bit of social anxiety but it’s not that extreme
I don’t get nervous when talking to people but my problem is struggling to think of things to talk about

I’m not a student anymore tbh, so I haven’t got a lot going on in my life
I work in retail and thankfully get on well with everyone there but it’s a big shop with independent work so you’re not in each others face as much

I’m thinking of volunteering at a soup kitchen for refugees
On an email she said the volunteer team is quite small but it can get busy with clients coming in and out

I think it’d be good if it’s busy as that could help overcome awkward silences, but with being stuck in a small team in the kitchen there might not be much to say

Anyway just curious to hear your experiences if you have any
Original post by Maya_amelia
I do have a bit of social anxiety but it’s not that extreme
I don’t get nervous when talking to people but my problem is struggling to think of things to talk about
I’m not a student anymore tbh, so I haven’t got a lot going on in my life
I work in retail and thankfully get on well with everyone there but it’s a big shop with independent work so you’re not in each others face as much
I’m thinking of volunteering at a soup kitchen for refugees
On an email she said the volunteer team is quite small but it can get busy with clients coming in and out
I think it’d be good if it’s busy as that could help overcome awkward silences, but with being stuck in a small team in the kitchen there might not be much to say
Anyway just curious to hear your experiences if you have any

You're definitely not alone - I've faced similar situations before as well.
Last summer, I volunteered at a restaurant dedicated to the Elderly. From what I've found out, social anxiety won't change the way the routine will work as there will be so much to do that it distracts everyone from having a proper conversation.
From what you've written, it sounds quite busy - so there might not be a chance for awkward silences anyhow. So don't worry!

However, if there are any chances of awkward silences - don't be overwhelmed and when trying to think of a conversation starter, relate it to something you all are facing (volunteering at the soup kitchen!). You could ask people how they're doing, why they're here, and so on...
A tip to let the conversation flow is to extend your sentences and mention another topic subtly (e.g. 'Yeah, I'm a bit tired - but later I have a thesis to do.') This could allow other people to link the next topic into the conversation (e.g. 'Oh! What are you writing your thesis on?'.

Anyhow, I wish you all the best and have fun! :smile:
Hiya! I have a lot of experience with this, I have social anxiety, agoraphobia and generalised anxiety disorder, but I'm also on a course that required me to do 100 hours of volunteering and have worked in quite a few different environments now.

The trick is to ease yourself into it and don't expect too much of yourself on day 1. Showing up in the first place is a huge achievement, and even if that's all you can do at first, you are making progress. The more you show up, the more confidence you will get and you will eventually be able to do all of the things the others are doing. If it's possible for you to visit before you start volunteering, I would really recommend that, it might help you get through the initial anxiety.

When I first started volunteering it was in a care home, I had a panic attack and left after an hour. I actually work in a hospital now, these things get easier with time. Just be patient with yourself and you'll be okay.
Original post by Maya_amelia
I do have a bit of social anxiety but it’s not that extreme
I don’t get nervous when talking to people but my problem is struggling to think of things to talk about
I’m not a student anymore tbh, so I haven’t got a lot going on in my life
I work in retail and thankfully get on well with everyone there but it’s a big shop with independent work so you’re not in each others face as much
I’m thinking of volunteering at a soup kitchen for refugees
On an email she said the volunteer team is quite small but it can get busy with clients coming in and out
I think it’d be good if it’s busy as that could help overcome awkward silences, but with being stuck in a small team in the kitchen there might not be much to say
Anyway just curious to hear your experiences if you have any

Social skills:

Be open, relaxed, approachable, friendly, lighten up


0) You can try nlp exercises, meditation, breathing techniques, visualisation. You can read books on this subject and there is a wealth of resources on the internet, youtube regarding this subject.

1) Relax, imagine you're just observing or there as a traveller. For example, if you are on holiday, you go there to experience and observe the attraction, you're not going to get anxious doing that are you?

2) Smile, smiling in contagious.

3) Be confident, respect yourself, accept yourself, work out, wear good clothes, feel good, focus on your passions, know you are a good person who treats people well, you have got as much right as everyone else.

Think positively, be proud of yourself, do things that make you happy, remember your happy times, what makes you confident? What makes you proud? Do you have a skill you are good at? Do things like cooking, driving, learning that increases your confidence daily. Relax.

Have good posture, body language, improve your appearance. Be happy with yourself.

4) Dress well, have good grooming, hairstyle, have good posture.

5) Just say hi or hey to people in your vicinity, who cares if they don't say anything back?

6) Ask how they are, how's everything, how's it going, what's the latest, what made them choose this course, their plans for the future, their plans for the rest of the day, weekend, how was their weekend, their day, what they will get up to, what they got up to, ask them about their hobbies, talk about what's happening. You could read up on current affairs.

Talk about the weather or did you see that sports game? Just mingle with them,

Compliment them, say "I like your jacket".

If you know they went on a holiday or somewhere, ask them about it etc.

7) Be passionate about life.

8) In group discussions, relax and talk to someone close or if someone says something you know, you can talk then. Stay relaxed.

9) Lighten up, have a laugh, laugh easily, be friendly, approachable, interested, relaxed.

10) You can write things down and come up with a rational reframed response, keep a journal of your thoughts, reach out to people slowly
Volunteering will likely help with your anxiety - assuming you like the environment. It worked for me. I've always held down volunteer roles in addition to uni/FT work and it helps a lot to have something with a bit more purpose than just the daily grind. 🙂
Original post by Analyst89
Social skills:
Be open, relaxed, approachable, friendly, lighten up
0) You can try nlp exercises, meditation, breathing techniques, visualisation. You can read books on this subject and there is a wealth of resources on the internet, youtube regarding this subject.
1) Relax, imagine you're just observing or there as a traveller. For example, if you are on holiday, you go there to experience and observe the attraction, you're not going to get anxious doing that are you?
2) Smile, smiling in contagious.
3) Be confident, respect yourself, accept yourself, work out, wear good clothes, feel good, focus on your passions, know you are a good person who treats people well, you have got as much right as everyone else.
Think positively, be proud of yourself, do things that make you happy, remember your happy times, what makes you confident? What makes you proud? Do you have a skill you are good at? Do things like cooking, driving, learning that increases your confidence daily. Relax.
Have good posture, body language, improve your appearance. Be happy with yourself.
4) Dress well, have good grooming, hairstyle, have good posture.
5) Just say hi or hey to people in your vicinity, who cares if they don't say anything back?
6) Ask how they are, how's everything, how's it going, what's the latest, what made them choose this course, their plans for the future, their plans for the rest of the day, weekend, how was their weekend, their day, what they will get up to, what they got up to, ask them about their hobbies, talk about what's happening. You could read up on current affairs.
Talk about the weather or did you see that sports game? Just mingle with them,
Compliment them, say "I like your jacket".
If you know they went on a holiday or somewhere, ask them about it etc.
7) Be passionate about life.
8) In group discussions, relax and talk to someone close or if someone says something you know, you can talk then. Stay relaxed.
9) Lighten up, have a laugh, laugh easily, be friendly, approachable, interested, relaxed.
10) You can write things down and come up with a rational reframed response, keep a journal of your thoughts, reach out to people slowly

Some really good tips, thanks!
Reply 6
Original post by Maya_amelia
I do have a bit of social anxiety but it’s not that extreme
I don’t get nervous when talking to people but my problem is struggling to think of things to talk about
I’m not a student anymore tbh, so I haven’t got a lot going on in my life
I work in retail and thankfully get on well with everyone there but it’s a big shop with independent work so you’re not in each others face as much
I’m thinking of volunteering at a soup kitchen for refugees
On an email she said the volunteer team is quite small but it can get busy with clients coming in and out
I think it’d be good if it’s busy as that could help overcome awkward silences, but with being stuck in a small team in the kitchen there might not be much to say
Anyway just curious to hear your experiences if you have any

I have social anxiety, ive recently picked up a job in customer service which was and still is so daunting but has very much helped me in my confidence (:

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