We all know to feel nervous or uncomfortable in social situations. Maybe you will be shy when meeting new people, or sweaty palms before giving a big speech. Public speaking or walking into a room of strangers is not entirely exciting for everyone, but most people can get through it. However, if you have social anxiety disorder, these conditions are too stressful to deal with. You may avoid all social contact because things other people think “normal”—such as small talk and eye contact—make you very uncomfortable. Every aspect of your life, not just social, may start to fall apart. Social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia) is one of the most common mental disorders, so if you have it, there is hope. The hard part is being able to ask for help. Here’s how to know if your social silence has exceeded the level of shyness that you need to see a doctor. When does it happen? Anyone with social anxiety disorder will experience it in a different way.
But here are some common situations where people often get into trouble:
- Talk to strangers
- Speak in public
- Dating eye contact
- Enter the room
- Use public toilets
- Go to the party
- Eat in front of others
- Go to school or work
- Start a conversation
Some of these situations may not cause you problems. For example, giving a speech may be easy, but attending a party may be a nightmare. Or, you may be good at one-on-one conversations, but not good at walking into crowded classrooms.
What causes Social Anxiety?
Nothing can cause social anxiety disorder. Genetics may have something to do with this: if your family members have social phobia, you are also more likely to suffer from this phobia. This may also be related to the overactive amygdala-the amygdala is the part of the brain that controls the fear response. Social anxiety usually occurs around 13 years of age. It may be related to a history of abuse, bullying or teasing. Shy children are also more likely to become socially anxious adults, as are children with bossy or controlling parents. If your health causes people to pay attention to your appearance or voice, it may also trigger social anxiety.
How it affects your life
Social anxiety can prevent you from living your life. You will avoid situations that most people consider “normal”. It may even be difficult for you to understand how other people deal with them so easily. When you avoid all or most social situations, it affects your personal relationships. It can also lead to:
Frustrated Sensitivity to criticism
Poor social skills, no improvement
1. Calm Breathing: This is a strategy that you can use to calm down quickly. We tend to breathe faster when we are anxious. This can make us feel dizzy and lightheaded, which can make us even more anxious. Calm breathing involves taking slow, regular breaths through your nose. However, it is important to realise that the goal of calm breathing is not to eliminate anxiety completely (because anxiety is not dangerous and it’s normal to feel anxious at times), but to make it a little easier to “ride out” the feelings in social situations.
2. Muscle Relaxation: Another helpful strategy involves learning to relax your body. This involves tensing various muscles and then relaxing them. This strategy can help lower overall tension and stress levels, which can contribute to anxiety problems.
3. Realistic thinking: People with social anxiety disorder are often What happens to them themselves and in social situations. Common examples include: “No one likes me!” “I want to say something stupid.” “I do stupid things and others will laugh!” “I do not know what to say.” “I’m not as smart/attractive as the others.” “No one will talk to me.” “I will become anxious and others will notice.” “Others will find me boring.” “I will make mistakes and others will think I am stupid.” If you think social situations are threatening or dangerous, then you May feel anxious. However, it’s important to realise that your thoughts are guesses About what is going to happen, not the actual facts. People with social phobia tend to Overestimate the degree of danger in social situations. Therefore, develop more A realistic way of thinking is an important step in controlling anxiety. But before you Can start to change your way of thinking, you need to be able to recognise Your thoughts on social occasions.
4. Confronting Fear: It is normal to want to avoid situations that cause you anxiety. avoid Fear of social situations is a very effective strategy because it reduces anxiety short term. However, in the long run, avoiding social situations will increase your fear Because it will prevent you from understanding the expectations that you worry about are unlikely Actually happening or not as bad as you think. Therefore, an important step in management Your social anxiety is about facing situations that you have been avoiding Social fear. Faced with these situations repeatedly can reduce long-term pain Help build confidence. First, list the social situations you are afraid of (for example, saying “Hi” to a colleague, Asking strangers for directions, calling, etc.). Refer back to your list When you take some time to observe your social anxiety and determine Conditions that cause you anxiety. Common types of social fear Situations include public speaking, informal social interaction, self-confidence, handling Conflict, become the focus of attention, eat and drink in front of others, and talk to others. Once you have the list, try From the least scary to the most scary. Start with the least terrible situation, Repeat the activity or enter the social occasion (for example, say “Hi” to a colleague Every morning) until you start to feel less anxious. Once you can enter Without experiencing too much anxiety (in many cases), move to The next case in the list.
Tip: If you haven’t already, please spend a few weeks following up Types of social situations that make you anxious. This can help you Compile a list of situations you fear.
5. Eliminate subtle avoidance and safety behaviours:
Some people do not completely avoid social situations, but engage in subtle Avoid strategies or do something to feel safer or prevent their fearful expectations come true. For example, if you are worried about saying something stupid, you might be Talk as little as possible. Subtle avoidance strategies or common examples Safety behaviours include: Get yourself out of context (for example, sitting outside the group, Go to the bathroom often, looking for a task seems busy) Hide obvious signs of anxiety (for example, wearing a turtleneck sweater or a lot of makeup to hide blush) Use of alcohol or drugs (for example, drinking alcohol in social situations) Distract yourself (for example, trying to think about other things, “partitioning”) Avoid sharing personal information (e.g. keep a conversation Superficial topics, asking the other party a lot of questions, so the point is They, change the subject) Avoid drawing attention to yourself (for example, avoid eye contact or smile, Wearing sunglasses, speak quietly, rarely speak) Overcompensation (for example, over-preparing a speech, rehearsing your Will say in advance) Tip: We often don’t know what we do in social situations will feel safer. So, pay close attention to what you do in the next few weeks Protect yourself in social situations.
Meeting New People
Once you have gained some confidence facing social situations, it may be time to start thinking about expanding your social network. People with social anxiety disorder often have a hard time developing new relationships. Having opportunities to meet other people and develop friendships is very important. Social situations that provide opportunities for repeated contact are the best ways to develop friendships. Try and brainstorm ways to get involved with other people. Here are some ideas of where you can meet people:
Work or school (talk to co-workers, go for lunch together, share coffee breaks)
Play a sport/exercise (join a gym or running group, play soccer or tennis)
Join a club/organisation (travel club, hiking group, singles group, etc.)
Take a class (painting, pottery, language course (e.g., Spanish, French) etc.)
Volunteer (community centres, hospitals, charitable organisations)
Take group lessons (swimming, dance)
Go to sports facilities (skate park, ski hill)
Dating services/On-line dating
Building on bravery
Learning to manage anxiety takes a lot of hard work. If you are noticing improvements, take some time to give yourself some credit: reward yourself! How do you maintain all the progress you’ve made? Practise! Practise! Practise! In a way, learning to manage anxiety is a lot like exercise – you need to “keep in shape” and practise your skills regularly. Make them a habit! This is true even after you are feeling better and have reached your goals. Don’t be discouraged if you start using old behaviours. This can happen during stressful times or during transitions (for example, starting a new job or moving). This is normal. It just means that you need to start practising using the tools. Remember, coping with anxiety is a lifelong process. For more information on how to maintain your progress and how to cope with relapses in symptoms, see our Cycle of Change in the Addiction category.
If you require professional help, please reach out and fill out a referral form, we are here to help you.
What coping strategies did you find useful for your social anxiety?