I suffer from severe anxiety to the point of agoraphobia. It’s very difficult for me be around people or to go anywhere. I’ve notice when. I try to talk to someone and make eye contact my eyes feel like they can’t stay open. Making it difficult to have a conversation with a person. I would like to know why do I do this and how can I stop my eyes wanting to close and be able to have a conversation comfortably and not be scared? Natasha
Thank you for your question, Natasha. Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by a fear of being in places or situations where escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of a panic attack or other embarrassing or traumatic event. This fear often leads to avoidance of these situations and can severely impact daily activities and functioning. One aspect of being scared when you are out in public is experiencing social anxiety. This can often lead to difficulties maintaining eye contact, struggling to talk, and fidgeting or standing with a closed posture.
Eye contact is important because it can:
• Show that you are engaged and actively listening to the person you are talking to.
• Convey trust, respect, and sincerity.
• Improve communication and understanding by allowing you to see the nonverbal cues and emotions of the other person.
• Make the other person feel valued and heard.
• Help to build rapport and establish a connection with others.
If you feel uncomfortable maintaining eye contact, take breaks and look away briefly to refocus and relax. You can practice making eye contact by following these steps:
• Start by making eye contact with people you are familiar with, such as friends and family.
• Gradually increase the amount of time you maintain eye contact in conversations.
• Engage in conversations with people you don’t know as well, such as people at work or in social situations.
• Focus on the other person’s eyes and not just their face, but remember to take breaks and look away periodically.
• Practice in front of a mirror, making eye contact with yourself.
• If you find it difficult to maintain eye contact, try practicing mindfulness or deep breathing exercises to help you stay relaxed and focused.
Eye contact is also about trusting other humans and so it may be important if you are struggling with the above steps to talk to a psychologist or mental health professional about the underlying reasons for your anxiety. If we have had difficult interactions with people in our past it is important to learn to trust other humans again.