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Topic: Going Out With Social Anxiety

10 posts, 0 answered
  1. wiwolf
    wiwolf avatar
    7 posts
    20 July 2020
    I'm trying to get out more to help my depression. For example I joined a gym, and it gives me free access to a pool. I'm excited about that, but in my mind I have no idea how I can do that.

    I can't fathom how I alone could go and swim in a pool. Or like, do laps? Do I get in, swim a certain number of laps and then just get out? How do I not look creepy?
    1 person found this helpful
  2. Aphador
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
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    Aphador avatar
    71 posts
    20 July 2020 in reply to wiwolf

    Hey Wiwolf!

    It's awesome that you are taking steps to help your depression! You are a role model for so many people.

    I get it! It seems like everybody is watching us and judging us when we go out in public with anxiety- I've been there. I'll let you in on a couple of secrets that helped me when going to the gym (I don't really go to the pool but I think it applies similarly).

    (1) Everybody else there is going to the gym/pool for similar reasons to you. So many people are dissatisfied with their bodies and join a gym/fitness activity to combat this. This dissatisfaction causes anxious feelings- indeed, everyone else there feels that same kind of nervousness/awkwardness as you or has in the past. Going out and exercising is strange for everybody.

    (2) Everyone is focussed on themselves more than you. People are so much more concerned about whether people at the gym/pool saw that they cheated a rep, or that they hung onto the lane rope halfway through to catch their breath. These anxious feelings you have been had by everyone.

    So I guess the answer in short to your question is- you just do it and don't care about what others think, because you realise that ultimately it doesn't matter. The hardest trip will be the first one- after that, it will become easier the more you do it. You could try going at 11 am (or whenever the gym is least popular, check it on google) to start with.

    Would love to know your thoughts on this :)

    Aphador :)

    2 people found this helpful
  3. TackyTapir
    TackyTapir avatar
    5 posts
    20 July 2020 in reply to wiwolf

    Hi Wiwolf,

    Great work giving yourself an opportunity like this. Joining a gym can have lots of benefits, from improved health, to being part of a community.

    In relation to feeling uncomfortable attending the pool and going for a swim, what are you looking for in terms of utilising your membership? Are you familiar with swimming? If so, lap swimming might be a great option, and it might help you to ask someone at the pool or a personal trainer how best to organise a routine, to help you with the ambiguity you might be feeling.

    If you are less comfortable, or looking more for something more social, you could enquire about swimming clubs, or perhaps other sports, such as water polo, that the facility might offer. This could be a great way to help move outside of your comfort zone.

    Finally, I commend you for reaching out for help at all, and the Beyond Blue forum is a great place to start, but have you discussed what you are experiencing with a GP or Psychologist? It can seem like a big effort to organise such things, but it can be well worth it.

    And of course, a pool is a public place, you are more than entitled to use it, even if you might feel "creepy". Having a routine will help giving you a sense of purpose though, which might reduce this feeling.

    Good luck, I hope you manage to get started soon.

    2 people found this helpful
  4. wiwolf
    wiwolf avatar
    7 posts
    20 July 2020
    Thanks to both Aphador and TackyTapir. I think that was the advice I was ready to receive. And it makes perfect sense. I'll just have to do my best to fight against the illogical side of my brain that will want to over analyse every part of simply going to the pool, getting in, and doing a few laps.


    2 people found this helpful
  5. 44Max44
    44Max44 avatar
    147 posts
    21 July 2020 in reply to wiwolf
    That's really great to hear that you're attempting to break out of your shell, the first steps are almost always the hardest but it does get easier.

    I don't think going to the pool and swimming a few laps would look creepy at all, after all that is what pools are meant for. You'd probably find that most people wouldn't even pay you any attention because they're too busy doing whatever they're doing. I suffer from social anxiety too and always used to think that everyone was staring at me everywhere I went and secretly laughing behind my back or something, but I've since learned that's just not the case. Most of the time people are too preoccupied with whatever they're doing to take notice of what you're doing.

    It's really good that you're getting yourself out there, exercise is a great stress-reliever and can also help with anxiety too. Swimming especially is really good for your health, even just being in cold water has a lot of health benefits and helps to relieve stress.

    Best of luck to you in your endeavors.
    All the best.
    1 person found this helpful
  6. TackyTapir
    TackyTapir avatar
    5 posts
    21 July 2020 in reply to wiwolf

    I am glad to hear it Wiwolf, I hope it all works out.

    Writing out a routine, with a number of laps and a date and time might help you break things down and overcome the overanalysing process.

    Good luck.

    1 person found this helpful
  7. Emmie24
    Emmie24 avatar
    7 posts
    24 July 2020 in reply to wiwolf

    Hey Wiwolf,

    That’s great that you’ve taken a step toward getting to the gym and pool! Exercise is so good to include in your routine. I too experience social anxiety but love to swim - but when I first started to go to the pool at my gym I had all my usual social anxiety thoughts - like that people would be watching me and noticing that I feel uncomfortable etc. But after a while I got used to it and it became a part of my weekly routine that I totally loved and a really relaxing activity that I’d look forward to.

    A few tips-

    Could you explain to a staff member at the gym that you’re new there and ask them to show you the pool facilities before you actually go for your first swim? I always used to take up the offer for a full tour of the gym when I first joined so I at least got to see facilities and layout first before I went to start using them.

    Also, when I first started swimming I didn’t really have a plan of what I would actually do in the pool and just kind of swam up and back doing random strokes and felt a bit lost. Then I decided on a routine of strokes that I would swim which kept me focused on my goal and gave me a bit of structure to my time in the pool. Every time I go swimming I start with 2 x warmup laps of freestyle, and then work in sets of four laps doing 1 x freestyle, 1 x breastroke, 1 x freestyle, 1 x backstroke. I repeat these sets until I’ve swam my goal distance. Could you decide on a routine that would work for you and maybe have a ‘training plan’ before you get in the pool? I just googled beginner swimming training plans for ideas. I find this gives me something to focus on and helps me relax because I’m thinking about what stroke I’m doing next and how many laps I’m doing, and usually also watching the clock to monitor how quickly I swim each session and if I’m getting faster over time so I’m too distracted to worry about the other people.

    Some gyms offer pool based fitness classes like aqua running which could be another option to start with if your gym offers it.

    Sometimes though I just have to tell myself that I value my health more than I value the opinions of others and blindly push my way into whatever it is that I want to do, and after doing it enough times I find that the anxiety eventually subsides and I can start to enjoy it (depends on the activity! But this is how I get myself out of the house to go for walks or exercise when I’ve been worrying about people seeing me/judging me!)

    Best wishes!

    2 people found this helpful
  8. wiwolf
    wiwolf avatar
    7 posts
    25 July 2020 in reply to Emmie24
    Wow! Thank you so much. You clearly understand social anxiety, and this entire post speaks to what I needed to understand. I thought it was messed up that I needed to formulate a mental routine or outline for going in public. But this is exactly it, thank you so much. It gives me something to figure out.
  9. Emmie24
    Emmie24 avatar
    7 posts
    26 July 2020 in reply to wiwolf
    You're most welcome Wiwolf and I'm really glad to hear you found the tips helpful. The way you feel is not messed up at all, and one of the best things I've found recently by talking to others who are going through similar experiences is that I'm not alone in how I feel, and it really normalises everything for me. Wishing you all the best :)
  10. Aphador
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Aphador avatar
    71 posts
    6 August 2020 in reply to wiwolf

    Hey Wiwolf! :)

    Just checking in, are you managing the gym and pool alright?

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