Stop Complaining And Blaming
Perhaps you were dealt a bad hand in life. Maybe you had a controlling mother or a father who put you down. Although these life experiences may have contributed to your social anxiety, you don’t need to let them continue to influence the course of your life. Start taking responsibility for your actions and behavior.
What Is Social Anxiety Disorder Or Social Phobia
Many people get nervous or self-conscious on occasion, like when giving a speech or interviewing for a new job. But social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is more than just shyness or occasional nerves. Social anxiety disorder involves intense fear of certain social situationsespecially situations that are unfamiliar or in which you feel youll be watched or evaluated by others. These situations may be so frightening that you get anxious just thinking about them or go to great lengths to avoid them, disrupting your life in the process.
Underlying social anxiety disorder is the fear of being scrutinized, judged, or embarrassed in public. You may be afraid that people will think badly of you or that you wont measure up in comparison to others. And even though you probably realize that your fears of being judged are at least somewhat irrational and overblown, you still cant help feeling anxious. But no matter how painfully shy you may be and no matter how bad the butterflies, you can learn to be comfortable in social situations and reclaim your life.
What Exactly Is Social Anxiety And Why Does It Flare Up At Work
Before you can cope with social anxiety at work, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re dealing with. According to the American Psychiatric Association, social anxiety is defined as “a persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.” While there is no known cause of social anxiety, it can often lead to a jolt of imminent fear as well as irrational thoughts and behavior, says Veroshk Williams, PhD, a clinical psychologist in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“Basically, the alarm system of the body is malfunctioning,” says Williams. “The nervous system is telling the person that there is an imminent danger that needs to be avoided when there is none.” Or at least, not something that warrants such an intense stress response.
Oftentimes, social anxiety can be coupled with physical symptoms like blushing, trembling, sweating, an increased heartbeat, and dizziness.;While social anxiety can manifest at parties, networking events, on a date, or at large gatherings, it’s also highly common at work. Why? Simply put, work can be an anxiety-provoking stimulus in so many ways.
Don’t Miss: What Is A Depression On A Topographic Map
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.
Encourage Others To Talk About Themselves
Most people really enjoy talking about themselves. Ask a question about a persons career, hobbies, or family. Show youre interested in hearing what is being said.
If you want to keep the conversation going, you should make it like playing ping pong. Learn more about it here: How to Connect With Someone Deeper Within a Short Time
Don’t Miss: How To Cure Bipolar Disease
Dont Focus On Yourself
Its hard to stop the endless mind chatter when youre in situations that make you particularly anxious. We often turn inward and focus on ourselves and how others will perceive us, almost always assuming it will be negative. The thought that everyone will be looking at you when you walk into a room and judging you in one way or another. This isnt the case. Stop focusing on yourself and what other people are thinking of you. Focus on other people, try to be present and make genuine connections.
Although it feels like a massive flag is on your back, anxiety isnt as visible as you may think. Even if someone notices youre a little nervous, theyre not thinking of you negatively. No ones perfect so try to be in the moment and actually listen to what is being said. In a small study where three job candidates were being evaluated for the same position, they chose the interviewee with great scores who spilt coffee all over himself. Instead of choosing a perfect candidate they chose someone who made a small blunder. Their reasoning was that he seemed far more approachable and he wasnt enviable, sometimes being too perfect can have its own repercussions.
Get Yourself Out There
If you suffer from mild to moderate social anxiety, you might just feel like you are in a rut most of the time. What is the best way to get out of a rut? Do something.
Although it can be tempting to avoid social and performance situations if you suffer from social anxiety disorder , it is important to get yourself out there. That means accepting invitations to go places and do things that make you uncomfortable. At the same time, you need to prepare yourself to properly handle being out there.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If You Have An Eating Disorder
Give Yourself A Pep Talk
Work anxiety is often rooted in fear; the fear that you’ll mess up, embarrass yourself, or bother your coworkers. Though it can be easy to let those thoughts dominate your time in the office, Wind challenges you to kick any negativity to the curb. “Don’t fixate on thoughts that you’re going to fail your interview or bomb the presentation,” he explains. “Don’t let your inner critic tell you that you’re the only problem in this situation. The workplace is a stressful setting for everyone.”
Instead of worrying about that big presentation, remind yourself that you’re thoroughly prepared and know what you’re talking about. Or, if you’re nervous about meeting new coworkers, remember that all you have to do is be yourself .
If you want to keep that positivity going all day long, recite a mantra when you’re feeling a little tense. Not only can a mantra put your mind at ease, but it can also let you hit the fresh button on any anxious thoughts.;
Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder
The median age at onset of social anxiety disorder is 13 years, and 75% have an age at onset between 8 and 15 years. The disorder can emerge out of a childhood history of social inhibition or shyness but can also be triggered by a traumatic experience, including bullying.1 Approximately 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder. 2
The defining feature of social anxiety disorder includes marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the person might be subject to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social interactions, being observed by others, and performing in front of others. 3
Other symptoms of social anxiety disorder include the following:
- The person feels that he or she will act in a way or show anxiety symptoms that will be negatively evaluated
- The social situations always trigger fear or anxiety
- Social situations are avoided or endured with intense feelings of fear and anxiety
- The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat
- The fear, anxiety, and avoidance lasts for 6 months or more
- Causes clinically significant distress in social, occupational , or other areas of functioning
- Dread of social events that can occur weeks in advance
- Excessive clinging to familiar people
- Tantrums when faced with anxiety provoking social situations
- Blaming others for perceived social failures
- Physical symptoms: Blushing, racing heart, shaky voice, trembling, nausea, difficulty speaking
Don’t Miss: How Many People In The World Have Anxiety
Identify Your Safety Behaviors And Eliminate Them
Many people who are anxious engage in superstitious behaviors that they think make them safer or less likely to humiliate themselves. These safety behaviors include self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, holding yourself very stiffly, avoiding eye contact, holding a glass tightly saw that people wont see your hands shake, wiping your hands so that people wont notice you are sweating, rehearsing verbatim exactly what you will say, and talking very fast. The problem with safety behaviors is that they are like the training wheels on a bicyclethey make you think that the only way you can get through these experiences is by using the training wheels. The more you can give up these behaviors the more powerful your experiences will beI did it without a drink or I did it without rehearsing everything.”
Strategy : Improve Your Social Skills
Sometimes people develop Social Anxiety Disorder because they have felt embarrassed about being shy or awkward around people.;
Sometimes people havent had the same amount of practice in the area of social skills as others.;
If this sounds like you, make learning about social skills a normal part of your life.;
Also Check: What Does The Suffix Phobia Mean
Identify And Replace Negative Thoughts
If you have a lot of negative thoughts about your social interactions, it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For example, a person who thinks, Im really awkward and I will embarrass myself, may sit in the corner at a party. As a result, he may leave the party thinking that he must be really awkward because no one talked to him.
Identify negative thoughts that are likely dragging you down. Replace them with more realistic thoughts such as, I can make conversation and I can meet new people.
Dont allow yourself to dwell on thoughts that arent productive! Find out;How Not to Let Negative Thoughts Trump the Positive Vibes.
Good social skills are essential for effective communication. If you find socializing with others a challenge, start to take on my suggestions and practice each of them consistently.
Great social skills dont come easily, you need to practice yourself and really try these tips by talking with others.
Take A Test To See How You Feel
If youre unsure about the way you feel, take our anonymous online test to check whether your levels of stress, anxiety, or depression are within a healthy range, and see if one of our online courses could help.
What Causes Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety doesnt have one specific cause. It generally develops from a complex combination of a few different factors, like genes, personality, and early life experiences.
Research suggests that theres a genetic component to social anxiety disorder. There isnt a set selection of genes that have been shown to cause social anxiety. However, it does seem to run in families and having a family member with social anxiety increases your chance of having this disorder as well.
Peoples early life experiences also influence the development of social anxiety. Experiencing situations that impact your confidence at a young age can be a risk factor for social anxiety, like overly critical parenting, bullying, or being excluded from important social groups. However, social anxiety can also develop in people who didnt have any significant negative experiences growing up.
Personality factors also contribute to social anxiety. Social anxiety is more common in people who are naturally shy or introverted. Personality traits like being perfectionistic and self-critical, or being a worrier, can also lead to social anxiety.
How To Deal With Social Anxiety
What is CBT?
Read Also: Does Bipolar Cause Memory Loss
Make Plans And Invite People
Once you start facing your fears, talking to everyone, and spending time with confident new friends, you are ready to plan some events. Socially confident people dont just sit around waiting for invitations, they actively invite people out.
Think of some activities you would enjoy with a group of friends. It could be playing a sport together or having a meal together, for example. This will help you start taking a leadership role in social situations and people will start to look forward to the events you plan.
Find A Greater Purpose
Connecting with something that has greater meaning can be a useful support when you are managing any mental health issue, including a social anxiety. This could be through religion or spirituality, through connecting with your culture or whakapapa, through a creative project, or through volunteering or helping others in need. This can distract you from your own problems for a while and build your resilience to manage your anxiety when they affect you.;
Also Check: Can Birth Control Cause Depression And Anxiety
Visualize What You Want
What exactly do you want? If you haven’t defined this for yourself, then you don’t know where you are headed or how to get there. Do you want more friends, a better job, or simply not to feel anxious all the time? Visualize having those things that you want; this will help motivate you to do what needs to be done to get out of a rut.
Dont Be Silly Everybody Is Too Busy With Their Own Lives To Focus On You
A friend thought that pointing this out would relieve my irrational thoughts. Sadly not. At the time, I was worried that everyone in the room was judging me negatively. Social anxiety is an all-consuming disorder. So while deep down I knew that people werent focused on me, it still didnt stop the taunting thoughts.
Also Check: What’s The Phobia Of Long Words
Why Do Some People Develop Social Phobia
Kids, teens, and adults can have social phobia. Most of the time, it starts when a person is young. Like other anxiety-based problems, social phobia develops because of a combination of three factors:
The good news is that the effect of these negative experiences can be turned around with some focused slow-but-steady effort. Fear can be learned. And it can also be unlearned, too.
What Stimulates Gaba Release
The best way to naturally increase GABA is through relaxation.
It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that causes you to relax, helps reduce insomnia and signs of depression.
This may be achieved by practicing meditation, getting a massage, or listening to music. If you are feeling stressed out, try taking a hot bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil added in for an even more relaxing effect.
Doing some yoga stretches can also help calm the mind while strengthening the muscles at the same time!
Other ways of increasing GABA release include being around people that you love, spending time outside on nature hikes, and staying away from stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine which can actually cause GABA levels to drop over time.
If you feel like you are too anxious and you need help getting a grip on your anxiety, check out my Holistic Anxiety Relief Course
Recommended Reading: How Effective Is Bipolar Medication
Readings For Consumers Social Anxiety Disorder And Shyness
Pay Attention To Your Body Language
Non-verbal communication is very important. Pay attention to the type of body language you use.
Try to appear relaxed, make appropriate amounts of eye contact, and appear open to conversation.
Learn how to properly use your body languages here: Be Instantly Irresistible With These 10 Body Language Tips
Also Check: Does Anxiety Lead To Schizophrenia