Wednesday, July 24, 2024

How To Handle Social Anxiety

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What To Do If You Have Social Anxiety

How to deal with social anxiety disorder while attending gatherings and events

If you think you have social anxiety, the most important question to ask yourself is whether it prevents you from achieving your goals. For example, we mentioned earlier that a large majority of people report a fear of public speaking. You might be one of them. But if your job or goals dont require public speaking, then being afraid of it might not be a big deal. On the other hand, if your fear is keeping you from getting the promotion you want, or getting in the way of an important personal goal, such as giving a speech at your sisters wedding, then you might consider looking for help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy widely is recognized as the most effective treatment for social anxiety. Its endorsed by leading mental health organizations, including the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the U.K. National Health Service. CBT is a set of activities proven to reduce your anxiety through repeated practice. It consists of two main parts: cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.

For example, if giving a presentation makes you extremely anxious, to the point where you might even call in sick to avoid it, your first exposure would be a similar but less anxiety-inducing situation, such as telling a story to a group of friends. Once you learn to get comfortable in these practice situations, youll be able to take your newfound confidence to more difficult situations you greatly fear or have been avoiding.

Q: How Long Will Our Pandemic

A: With social anxiety, the anticipation is often worse than the actual event itself. You may start to feel better once youre able to see that that the worst has not, in fact, happened maybe after a couple days back in the office or a few larger social interactions. Your skills will probably return much faster than you think.

But if your nervousness persists, interferes with concentration or makes you feel symptoms of panic including trouble breathing, a racing heart and feeling shaky or faint it may be time to talk to adoctor.

No one will forget this pandemic, especially those whove experienced so much hardship and grief. But people can recover from loss and trauma, and they can also show incredible resilience.

Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety

People often think social anxiety is just a feeling, but it actually has four components: thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviors. Most people might begin recognizing their social anxiety when they notice nervousness also is accompanied by physical symptoms such as trembling and crying. When youre anxious, the four components interact with and build upon each other, causing a cycle of anxiety. For example, heres how your anxiety might manifest itself if youre nervous about giving a presentation at work:

Thoughts: Often, your anxiety will begin with a negative thought, such as Im going to screw up or People will think Im stupid.

Feelings: These thoughts cause you to feel negative emotions, such as stress or worry.

Physical Response: Your body reacts to your negative thoughts and feelings with a physical response, such as blushing, sweating or shaking.

Behaviors: You try reducing your anxiety with conscious or unconscious actions, such as averting your gaze or hiding behind the podium . Acting this way may make you think everyone else notices you look stiff , which then can cause you to feel even more stressed .

People with social anxiety often dont realize when their behavior is being driven by anxiety. People with social anxiety tend to exhibit three types of behaviors:

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Focus On Something Less Anxiety

At times, it may be most helpful to simply redirect yourself to focus on something other than your anxiety. You may want to reach out to others, do some work around your home, or engage in an enjoyable activity or hobby. Here are a few ideas of things you can do to thwart off anxiety:

  • Do some chores or organizing around the house.
  • Engage in a creative activity, such as drawing, painting, or writing.
  • Go for a walk or engage in some other form of physical exercise.
  • Listen to music.

Work On Friendship Skills

How to deal with social anxiety : tumblr

While you cant make friends for your child, you can help your child practice friendship skills. Practice these skills using role play and modeling to help your child feel at ease with peers:

  • Greetings
  • Sliding in and out of groups
  • Conversation starters
  • Asking follow up questions/making follow up statements

Also Check: Three Stages Of Schizophrenia

Show Genuine Interest In Other People

Think about the people you enjoy the most. Do they brag about their accomplishments or are they interested in what’s going on with you? Chances are, it’s the latter. Horn uses three questions to get people talking about themselves:

  • What are you most excited about?
  • What are you struggling with at the moment?
  • What’s next?

The subject matter can be about business or life, just as long as you’re getting at the things that are most important to whomever you’re interacting with. “You give them a chance to talk about something that they probably don’t get to talk about very often but that’s very real for them,” he says. “And you also give yourself a relevant opportunity to contribute your own story–potentially some insight or advice that you might have.”

Summary & Extra Resources

Social anxiety is excessive and persistent fear of what other people think of you.

And when it comes to the question of how to overcome social anxiety, the most important distinction to keep in mind is this:

Whatever caused your social anxiety originally is not necessarily the thing maintaining it now.

This means that in order to effectively overcome your social anxiety, you need to identify the habits in the present that are keeping your anxiety strongor even making it worseand work to eliminate them.

To review, here are the 10 tips I recommended to get you started:

  • Map your social anxiety triggers
  • Control your worry habit
  • Practice self-compassion with your social anxiety
  • Talk about your social anxiety
  • Restructure overly-negative self-talk
  • Avoid coping strategies like alcohol or marijuana
  • Set better boundaries
  • Spend more time around people who appreciate you
  • Clarify your values
  • Recommended Reading: Prodromal Symptoms Of Schizophrenia Are Evident:

    Talk About Your Social Anxiety More

    This one sounds intimidating but its also really powerful!

    Im sure you saw Talk about your social anxiety more and thought something along the lines of Yeah, right! Being socially anxious is hard enough without sharing it with other people at the same time!

    I get it.

    But, the psychology of social anxiety is pretty counterintuitive in this respect.

    First of all, talking about your social anxiety will help you feel less alone. WAY more people than you would imagine suffer with social anxiety. Seriously, many of the people you interact with on a daily or weekly basis likely also have some social anxiety but are just good at hiding it.

    See, when you start being a little more open about the fact that you struggle with social anxiety, you open the door for other people to share that they do as well. And when it happens, its often profoundly validating and relieving to know first-hand that other people struggle like you do.

    But when you acknowledge and express upfront that you tend to get a little anxious in social situations you A) immediately disarm other people by being vulnerable, and B) take off that entire second layer of pressure to not appear anxious.

    Thanks to Michelle Cadieux for inspiring this section!

    What Is Crippling Anxiety

    How to deal with social anxiety post-pandemic

    Rather than being a clinical term, crippling anxiety is a common expression used to describe severe anxiety or an anxiety disorder.

    And in order to understand anxiety disorders, it’s essential to differentiate them from the everyday pressures and stressors people experience in their daily lives. For example, feeling nervous or having butterflies in your stomach before giving a presentation is typical and expected.

    However, when you experience anxiety more often than not, and it becomes challenging to complete daily tasks or participate fully in your life it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

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    Be Mindful Of Avoidance

    Going to social events but finding ways to keep your interaction with others at a minimum isnt truly overcoming your social anxiety. Try to be aware if you look for ways to be at an event but not engage. For example, do you try to keep busy in the kitchen? Do you remain an outsider looking in, maybe focusing on your phone so nobody tries to talk to you?

    Its true that youre showing up, but without engaging with others, you arent dealing with your social anxiety. Youre also limiting how deep any relationships can develop by avoiding truly connecting.

    Feeling Like An Imposter Or Fraud At Work

    Many people with social anxiety hide it extremely well. In fact, Ive found that social anxiety seems to be especially prevalent among people who might describe themselves as high-achievers or Type-A.

    In other words, social anxiety is more prevalent than you would think in people who look like theyve got it all together on the outside. But on the inside, theyre plagued with self-doubt and imposter syndrome

    • They constantly feel like theyre a fraud, not good enough, and that at any moment people are going to figure it out.
    • Theyre in the habit of chronically comparing themselves to others and never feeling like they match up.
    • They struggle to appreciate their wins and successes because as soon as something goes well, they immediately worry that its not good enough or that someone will find fault with them.

    Of course, this struggle of feeling like a fraud tends to show up most frequently at work. And interestingly, is especially common among people who are higher up in a company or organizationas a client explained to me once, the higher you climb the further you have to fall.

    Okay, now that weve covered what social anxiety is and what it looks like, lets take a look at where social anxiety comes from and what causes it.

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    Tip : Focus On Others Not Yourself

    When were in a social situation that makes us nervous, many of us tend to get caught up in our anxious thoughts and feelings. You may be convinced that everyone is looking at you and judging you. Your focus is on your bodily sensations, hoping that by paying extra close attention you can better control them. But this excessive self-focus just makes you more aware of how nervous youre feeling, triggering even more anxiety! It also prevents you from fully concentrating on the conversations around you or the performance youre giving.

    Switching from an internal to an external focus can go a long way toward reducing social anxiety. This is easier said than done, but you cant pay attention to two things at once. The more you concentrate on whats happening around you, the less youll be affected by anxiety.

    Focus your attention on other people, but not on what theyre thinking of you! Instead, do your best to engage them and make a genuine connection.

    Remember that anxiety isnt as visible as you think. And even if someone notices that youre nervous, that doesnt mean theyll think badly of you. Chances are other people are feeling just as nervous as youor have done in the past.

    Really listen to what is being said not to your own negative thoughts.

    Focus on the present moment, rather than worrying about what youre going to say or beating yourself up for a flub thats already passed.

    A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Approach

    [Strategy] How to deal with social anxiety. : GetMotivated

    Key Points:

    • Cognitive behavioraltherapy has been shown to be an effective form of treatment for social anxiety.
    • Among other steps, CBT prescribes challenging anxious thoughts, and specifically tracking whether one’s catastrophic predictions about social encounters actually hold true in real life, as a way of realizing that they generally don’t.
    • After an encounter, socially anxious people should congratulate themselves for facing their fears rather than criticizing their performance in post-mortems.

    If you find yourself inhibited and anxious in a variety of social situations and you fear that people will see your anxiety and that you will feel humiliated, then you may suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. Many people with this problem will choose to avoid situations where they anticipate being anxious or they may use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate before entering these situations. Social anxiety is associated with increased risk for alcohol abuse, depression, loneliness, decreased occupational advancement, and the increased likelihood of remaining single. You can complete the Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale and find out if you have symptoms that might indicate social anxiety.

    The good news is that you can do something about it.

    Also Check: Medical Definition Of Phobia

    Learn When To Step In And When To Step Back

    This one is tricky, and it definitely depends on the child. But when a parent hovers over an anxious child, it can make them more anxious – because they feel the parent’s worry. Try to step back, but always be close by if they need you.

    On the other hand, you can intervene when it seems like a panic attack or episode is coming up, removing your child from the situation temporarily to remind them of coping skills or just to give them a break before encouraging them to go back.

    This step is intuitive. No one knows your child like you do. Just be careful to give them space to explore and grow, even when it feels scary.

    How To Deal With Social Anxiety Disorder

    When it comes to treating social anxiety, the treatments can vary in the same way that the etiology of the disorder itself does. There is no one size fits all treatment option with respect to anxiety. The one thing this is salient, however, is the incessant worrying that can encroach on ones professional and personal life.

    With a little bit of trial and error, it is possible to find a treatment that works for you, specifically. That said, less than 40 percent of those who suffer actually seek treatment. Ironically, the very fact that they have social anxiety is probably the one thing that holds them back the most.

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    Become Your Own Best Advocate

    Nobody else is going to look out for you the way you can look out for yourself. Gather knowledge about SAD so that you can make better decisions. Ask for accommodations at work and school if you feel they will help you. Guide others toward better understanding of the struggles you face. Take time out at parties if you feel the need. Nobody else knows what it is like to be you.

    What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder

    Overcoming social anxiety to resume a crowded life

    Social anxiety disorder sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some family members have it while others dont. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. Some researchers think that misreading of others behavior may play a role in causing or worsening social anxiety. For example, you may think that people are staring or frowning at you when they truly are not. Underdeveloped social skills are another possible contributor to social anxiety. For example, if you have underdeveloped social skills, you may feel discouraged after talking with people and may worry about doing it in the future. By learning more about fear and anxiety in the brain, scientists may be able to create better treatments. Researchers are also looking for ways in which stress and environmental factors may play a role.

    Recommended Reading: Can Anxiety Cause Burning Skin

    Connect With Your Child

    You can use the PACE model to engage with your children and help them feel safe. The PACE method stands for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, and Empathy. These four reactions or methods of interaction help to release some of the anxiety associated with a situation by letting the child know that you are calm, relaxed, and able to understand and help them.

    An interaction between a parent and a child with social anxiety could sound like this:

    “It seems like you’re worried about your game tomorrow. You’re not scared you’ll have too much fun, are you?”

    Using playfulness shows your child that you, as the person who keeps them safe, are feeling relaxed and open, allowing them to begin to feel more relaxed.

    “No, I just don’t want to play soccer anymore. I’d rather play with you.”

    “I hear ya. I love playing with you too.”

    Showing acceptance of your childs feelings is especially important when your child has anxiety, because so often anxiety can be brushed off as irrational. If your child learns that they can come to you with their anxiety and feel heard, they feel safer now and with future anxieties.

    “Maybe you’re worried about missing a goal tomorrow. I know when I focus on scoring in sports, I feel really anxious and pressured to do well. I wonder if you’re feeling nervous because youre not sure if youll make goals?”

    “Well, I did miss a goal at the last game, and Jordan was mean to me because I let down the WHOLE team.”

    Behavioral Signs Before During Or After Social Interactions

    • Avoiding places where there are other people, or situations where you are the center of attention
    • Avoiding doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
    • Enduring a social situation while feeling intense fear or anxiety
    • Spending excessive time after a social situation analyzing or identifying what you feel you did wrong
    • Regularly expecting the worst possible consequences from a negative experience or social interaction

    Having social anxiety can feel very isolating. If you are struggling with social anxiety, youre not alone: 15 million adults in the U.S. are affected by social anxiety disorder, and young adults experiencing major life transitionslike attending a new school or starting their first jobare particularly susceptible to feeling overwhelmed by social anxiety.

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