Iris hummingbird holding a sign that says "Dear Iris".
Sexual Wellness

Dear Iris: Getting Back Out There

Dear Iris,

Sometimes I feel like the only thing people can see is how my body has changed. This makes me feel self-conscious and I'd rather avoid social situations altogether. Any tips for getting back out there?


Dear P,

People are more influenced by the way you behave rather than how you look. Even if they notice changes to your body, they will tend to pay even more attention to your personality, the content of your conversation, and your body language. 

A few tips for getting back out there, especially if you are feeling highly self-conscious and avoiding social situations.

At first, you may wish to select a quiet setting or go somewhere less crowded. Start with a small group of close friends or family, you feel comfortable around and then gradually add other social situations.

You can set limits on the amount of time you wish to spend at a gathering. For example, start with 30 minutes and work your way up.

You may find it helpful to develop a signal with your partner or close friend so that you can let them know if you start feeling uncomfortable and want to leave.

Be aware of mind reading — do not assume you know what other people are thinking, how they feel about you, or what they are noticing about you.

Pay attention to your body language: this includes holding your head up straight, smiling and using positive facial expressions, and positioning your body in a way that makes you feel more comfortable. These can help you feel more comfortable and confident.

Remember to acknowledge your progress and any efforts you are making in this area.

Have a question?

Michelle Fingeret, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Fingeret Psychology Services

Dr. Michelle Fingeret has spent the last 18 years providing body image counseling to adult cancer survivors. As a psychologist specializing in body image and cancer, she’s worked extensively in both outpatient and inpatient settings providing therapy to individuals, couples, and groups.

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.