Social anxiety is more than just being shy or nervous. It is normal to feel nervous in certain situations. However, social Anxiety is a social phobia where everyday interactions cause significant anxiety, self-consciousness, and embarrassment
Social Anxiety means having an intense fear of social situations which cause great disturbance in a persons day to day life. It can be triggered by situations that are defined as social, such as parties, speeches, dates, or even exams
The exact cause of social anxiety is yet unknown.Social anxiety disorder sometimes run in family, and research studies show that many brain sections are associated with anxiety and worry. Some experts believe that misreading others' behavior may play a role in worsening social anxiety, underdeveloped social skills and negative experiences such as bullying, sexual and emotional abuse may also contribute to social anxiety.
Symptoms may include
- Worrying about everyday situations such as meeting someone new, speaking on phone, or shopping
- Fearing situations where you may be judged negatively
- Always worrying about doing something embarrassing and avoiding situations in which you may cause embarrassment
- Major distress when the center of attention, or being watched when doing certain tasks
- Often have physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, blushing, crying, stomach trouble, or out-of-body experience
- Having panic attacks where you have an overwhelming sense of anxiety
Tips to overcome social anxiety
Get yourself out there and start small
Although it is tempting to avoid social situations, it is important to get yourself out there. Start saying yes because over time, the more you do, the less fearful you will become. Don't jump immediately to big situations. Schedule meals with your friends or family so you can get used to eating outside. Try going out of your way to make eye contact or compliment someone. You can then move on to larger situations as you get more comfortable.
Challenge Negative thoughts
Most of the time, people spend a lot of time ruminating over potential negative outcomes of various social situations. You may worry about being judged or doing something embarrassing, and it can be frightening to imagine yourself in these situations. When you experience such challenging thoughts, try replacing them with more positive and helpful ones. You could do this by realistic thinking. Another way you could do this is by writing the negative thoughts, and then thinking about positive responses to those negative thoughts.
Try Relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques can help calm physical reactions, making it easier to manage worry and anxiety. Certain techniques can help you manage your breathing. Relaxation skills address anxiety from the standpoint of the body by reducing muscle tension, slowing down breathing, and calming the mind. Relaxation skills can be structured; examples are slow diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, and yoga. Other techniques, such as self-care and enjoying pleasurable activities, are also helpful to make us feel more relaxed.
Practice social skills-
You can improve the skills you already have, and joining a support group can help you share experiences with those who understand what you are going through. Practice how to make introductions, or practice eye contact skills. Take a class that interests you and this will help you build confidence, and expose you to new situations.Practicing active listening could also help you focus more on others and less on yourself. Being assertive will also help reduce anxiety and helps you relate to others in a way that balances the needs of everyone.
Therapy for social anxiety-
Social anxiety is commonly treated with Cognitive Behavior Therapy where the goal would be to identify irrational beliefs and thought patterns and replace them with more realistic ones. By identifying these irrational thoughts, you can change the way you feel and behave. You would work on how to become more assertive, tackle perfectionism and be more realistic. This could be done individually or in groups.
A WORD FROM SOCIALLY SOULED
It is possible to effectively treat anxiety disorders like social anxiety. The road to recovery from social anxiety is arduous, and it takes time for new neural connections necessary for social engagement to emerge. Even if it seems like an insurmountable challenge, it's so worth overcoming so you may fully live your life.