Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

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Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby helion83 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:48 pm

Hey, so I have a case of Social Anxiety. I can handle large crowds and don't run away from people trying to talk to me however, I can feel uncomfortable.

Part of going to Burning Man is to get over these (completely irrational) fears by taking part and aiming to be sociable in whatever situation I find myself in, however I do realise there are going to be times where I'll need to shut the world out and mentally recharge.

What coping strategies do people use to recharge while out on the Playa? Are there any 'quiet' (I use that term loosely) places to feel calm in? Or is it worth taking a black out mask and headphones just to chill out for a while. I have read the survival guide and also the 'guide for shy people' on the Playa so am feeling a bit more prepared.

I've got my 'Social Anxiety' foxxy sewn onto my water bag and have discussed with the friends any requirements but frankly, a veterans advice would be amazing thank you. Cheers for whatever responses this post manages to get.
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:19 pm

Just a word of encouragement, I think you'll find it a lot easier than you thought. Pretty much everyone is super nice and genuinely interested to talk to you. At Burning Man, everyone else there went through as much effort and expense to get there as you did. They are all just as thrilled to be there. You will find interactions with strangers much easier than in the "normal" world.
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby playaSilk » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:23 pm

I'm a social introvert. I get along well (sometimes? usually?) with people but I need my quiet downtime. Fortunately, the playa provides in abundance. There's tons of chill spaces for you to lie down in the shade. There's camps that offer napping areas, hammocks, chill domes etc. Or even just take a walk out to the temple or deep playa. Lotsa places for an introvert to unplug from the playa to recharge.

And if you need to, YES YOU SHOULD rock that black mask and headphones. It is YOUR experience. The wonderful thing about BM is that it's just an empty canvas and you get to create the experience that you want, even if it is totally different from the other kids.

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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby unjonharley » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:40 pm

This year i,m bringing my talking book machine and a couple of books.. When it get real hot I put my feet in some water and just sit back..One year some people come by our camp.. Grandfather was my camp mate. We were soaking and cooling.. Some one ask if grandfather was alive.. We are so old we just look that way..This year with the talking book, earphones and sunglasses I,ll put a sign around my neck.. I'm reading..
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby VultureChow » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:52 pm

You'll find people napping, meditating, or just sitting quietly everywhere. If you have your own shady area, that's a great place to go in the middle of the day to close your eyes and recharge. This is an event where every other camp seems to have a "chill dome." You will fit right in with the other chillers.

Crawling into my tent at night can be a huge relief as well. The playa is big and open and busy and everything all at once, and my tent is a cocoon. Big enough not to be claustrophobic but small enough to make me feel secure.

That said, I find most of my social anxiety comes from being self conscious and burning man seems to just scour that away. I stop thinking about what people think of my hair, or outfit or body and just rock whatever I feel like wearing. Clashing shirt and skirt. Awesome. The same jeans three days in a row? No one cares.
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby some seeing eye » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:03 pm

You probably found this thread:
https://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=45094

Many burners are also empathic and sensitive.

The burn can be stressful, recognize when you need a break. Some camps are very calm with plenty of space to spread out, like the Heebeegeebee Healers. If you are having a severe problem, there is a medical space dedicated and staffed for this.
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby maladroit » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:12 pm

Part of going to Burning Man is to get over these (completely irrational) fears by taking part and aiming to be sociable in whatever situation I find myself in


That sounds a lot like an expectation. You should be fully prepared to leave the playa with all the same problems and strengths that define you. It's pretty likely that you will gain some new perspective, but Burning Man won't actually change you. It can show you a few more roads that YOU have to take under your own power.

And you know what? It's OK if you don't right away. Because you'll have some good times, be amazed at the things others can do, and maybe be amazed by something you can do. You'll also forget to eat or drink for a while, start to feel isolated and excluded and invisible, and get depressed at how shittily you're handling the best party on earth. That's fine too. Go wallow in misery, hunker down next to a piece of art, dig out your water and snacks, watch people go by, and think. That's a valid and normal thing to do at Burning Man. And if someone tries to drag you out of it and you're not ready, tell them to go fuck themselves.

If you want to take one huge step to battling social anxiety, volunteer. Either sign up for an official shift with Arctica or the Cafe, find an art group that needs help, or wander around after your camp is set up and offer to help set up other camps. If you see someone wrestling with a hexayurt, they can ALWAYS use an extra hand.

Not everyone out there will treat you nicely...most will, but some will be assholes. Just move on and offset the pain they caused by doing something nice for someone else.
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby skippy3k » Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:04 am

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. For much of my life (when I used to live close by), I camped on the playa to enjoy the solitude. To decide to go to BM my first time and do essentially the same thing but with 50,000 people....whew, that was a big decision. I am extremely HSP. I can't turn my brain off which means I hear every conversation, notice every person, feel every experience. Sudden loud sounds startle me. It can get mentally overwhelming. I am hesitant to walk up to camps, I feel a need to escape conversations or avoid outlandish activity. Then when I do finally go to sleep, the days' experiences run through my head like a film, making me unable to sleep.

If any of these things sound familiar to you, just know that given all of that, I still LOVE the experience on the playa. You just need to listen to your body and mind and do the thing you need to do to decompress. Eye mask, headphones, sleeping, sitting and staring off into space, whatever. I also highly recommend riding your bike out to the fringe of the city and enjoy the solitude. No one judges what you do. (Hell, I'm always jealous of those people able to just sleep while 20 people are milling around them in their camp.)

Remember, this is YOUR burn. You aren't expected to be the life of the party there. No one expects that. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to dip your toe in social situations; choose them when you want. But don't expect to be transformed entirely afterwards. I've gone years and I'm still a far way off from enjoying the experience to my full potential. Which is part of the allure for me.
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby chuckularone » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:26 am

skippy3k wrote:I am extremely HSP.


HSP?
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby FlyingMonkey » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:26 am

helion83 wrote:Hey, so I have a case of Social Anxiety. I can handle large crowds and don't run away from people trying to talk to me however, I can feel uncomfortable.

Part of going to Burning Man is to get over these (completely irrational) fears by taking part and aiming to be sociable in whatever situation I find myself in, however I do realise there are going to be times where I'll need to shut the world out and mentally recharge.

What coping strategies do people use to recharge while out on the Playa? Are there any 'quiet' (I use that term loosely) places to feel calm in? Or is it worth taking a black out mask and headphones just to chill out for a while. I have read the survival guide and also the 'guide for shy people' on the Playa so am feeling a bit more prepared.

I've got my 'Social Anxiety' foxxy sewn onto my water bag and have discussed with the friends any requirements but frankly, a veterans advice would be amazing thank you. Cheers for whatever responses this post manages to get.


I found a desert oasis in deep Playa that was perfect one night when I was on my own & not good company. It was a full moon, very dusty, & I was the only one there. I sat at one of the couches & read a log book that was left for people to write in. I needed a little time away from the camp drama & it was perfect. Thank you to whoever put it there.

I too am shy but I find that volunteering for various shifts & meeting new people works for me. I have found most people I meet to be very welcoming & although I often feel socially awkward this forces me past my comfort zone but not too far. I have considered going to the ePlaya meet-n-greet because I really want to get to know so many people here. But I have to admit that is a bit intimidating to me. Maybe we can both wear shirts that say "Social Anxiety" & I will look for you :-)

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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby FIGJAM » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:59 am

Don't be afraid of the M&G!!!!!!!!

None of us is over 10 feet tall!!!!!!!!!! 8)
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby trilobyte » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:07 am

Read this post. It's a sticky thread for a reason, it is really great stuff.
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby skippy3k » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:28 am

chuckularone wrote:
skippy3k wrote:I am extremely HSP.


HSP?


Highly Sensitive Person. Sometimes known as Sensory Processing Sensitivity. It's common enough in the population that it's technically not classified as a disorder. I originally poo-poo'ed the concept myself, but after time I quit resisting because it just explained so much. Now I don't even care if it's a real thing or not, it just helps provide a framework for me in which to more effectively experience the world....especially Burning Man.
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby trilobyte » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:41 am

Beyond the above, which IMO should be REQUIRED READING....

I'll point out that the city is very easy to find a comfortable space in. I had a couple campmates last year who discovered some anxiety issues mid-week, and they found this info extremely helpful. In a way that most people don't really even consider, it's a work of city planning genius. Look at the map for a minute.

The two 'spikes' at either end of the dial are where the bigger sound camps and sound systems are. That's going to mean the most wattage, and it will also mean larger and larger crowds as the week goes on. Then, the innermost ring of the city dial is the Esplanade. That's like the main street of any city, it tends to be the most hustle and bustle. Moving outward, the street names begin with the letters of the alphabet, and have a natural tendency to become quieter and quieter neighborhoods as you get further out. That's not to say dull, or purely residential - there are some really awesome camps and bars out there.

Knowing that, it should be easy to "find your happy place" so to speak. For every big party or bar whose idea of a good time is a thousand people, there are a dozen bars whose idea of a good time is a dozen or less. If you're feeling anxious, move along and move outward by a street. On the reverse, if you're feeling like things are a little too quiet, move inward.

There are a few exceptions, of course. Rockstar camps who light up a neighborhood, or quiet little cozy spots on an otherwise more amped-up block. Also, the plazas tend to have a bit of life to them, too. But they're on the map, and easy to spot. Stepping outside your comfort zone can be a good thing here and there, but it's nice to know how to find a comfortable space. I hope that helps!
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby rmc50 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:32 pm

Burning Man can provide as many different experiences as there are people to experience them. If a situation causes you angst, just avoid those. There are plenty of other experiences available.

There are a lot of theme camps that provide loud music and dancing. Along with these are crowds and all the social anxiety that comes along with it. If these bother you, don't go to them.

I would recommend establishing your own camp on one of the outer rings, and away from the 10:00 or 2:00 ends. "K" and "L" streets around 4:00 will be fairly quiet and give you a place to return to and rest.

On the playa you will be interacting with most of the art installations in very small groups, or often alone. People are very friendly and likely to strike up a conversation with you but it will be more of a 1 on 1 situation. Some of the art projects on the "deep" playa provide a sanctuary of peace and quiet along with some shade.

The Man can be crowded and noisy, especially in the early evening. The Temple, on the other hand, is a very quiet place. It might be crowded, but you can go in, close your eyes and shut out everyone else.

Center Camp can be a bit noisy but it can also be a good place to rest. You won't feel out of place at all if you found a bench with a couple of pillows and just settled in to take a nap.

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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby helion83 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:19 pm

maladroit wrote:
Part of going to Burning Man is to get over these (completely irrational) fears by taking part and aiming to be sociable in whatever situation I find myself in


That sounds a lot like an expectation.


Yes it is, in a work based situation or anything with, let's just say a "purpose" I'm completely fine. Can talk the ear off anyone, put me in a situation where there's small talk or meeting new people, e.g. no purpose beyond just chatting/talking and getting to know the other person and my natural reflex is to clam up and hide.

I acknowledge this isn't going to change my SA "either side of the dial" as one Redditor puts it, but it's an opportunity to be something I'm not and to do something which typically gives me the heebeejeebies. Am sure it will be fine, just that fear it won't be, is perhaps the hardest obstacle to overcome.

Thank you all for your replies & support, am sure it'll be a great experience however if you see someone with this guy on his shoulder please come and say hello, meeting people is always the hardest thing for me so something like this is a great conversation starter :)

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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby Jovankat » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:58 am

FlyingMonkey wrote:
helion83 wrote:I found a desert oasis in deep Playa that was perfect one night when I was on my own & not good company. It was a full moon, very dusty, & I was the only one there. I sat at one of the couches & read a log book that was left for people to write in. I needed a little time away from the camp drama & it was perfect. Thank you to whoever put it there.


Was it this place by any chance?
32152pre_wm_2915b669c975387.jpg
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby FlyingMonkey » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:14 am

Jovankat wrote:
FlyingMonkey wrote:
helion83 wrote:I found a desert oasis in deep Playa that was perfect one night when I was on my own & not good company. It was a full moon, very dusty, & I was the only one there. I sat at one of the couches & read a log book that was left for people to write in. I needed a little time away from the camp drama & it was perfect. Thank you to whoever put it there.


Was it this place by any chance?
32152pre_wm_2915b669c975387.jpg


Why yes, I do believe it is :D
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby tamarakay » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:22 am

I think a social anxiety shirt would be awesome. Plus a sign I could flash up that says "I really do just want to sit here all alone for a while."
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby VultureChow » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:42 am

How about a flippable sign? One side says OPEN FOR BUSINESS, and the other side is this:

Image
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Re: Social Anxiety on the Playa, coping mechanisms.

Postby Jovankat » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:56 am

FlyingMonkey wrote:
Jovankat wrote:
FlyingMonkey wrote:I found a desert oasis in deep Playa that was perfect one night when I was on my own & not good company. It was a full moon, very dusty, & I was the only one there. I sat at one of the couches & read a log book that was left for people to write in. I needed a little time away from the camp drama & it was perfect. Thank you to whoever put it there.


Was it this place by any chance?
32152pre_wm_2915b669c975387.jpg


Why yes, I do believe it is :D



Hehe, just FYI it's called Starfuckers Oasis. American Boyfriend and I spend a lovely chunk of our burn nigh on one of those couches last year :)
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