Overcoming social anxiety
We all get anxious at some time or another. It only becomes a problem when that anxiety is so debilitating that it stops us from leading normal, healthy lives.
In modern society, it can often be challenging to cope with a variety of situations, and social anxiety is an increasingly common issue that often starts in the teenage years.
There is so much pressure on people that it’s no surprise that many of us actually do develop a fear of social situations. This problem usually gets easier in later life as we become more experienced, but for some, it doesn’t, and this can have a profound impact on mental health and wellbeing.
Anyone can suffer from a social anxiety disorder. It has even affected some high profile people like Barbara Streisand, who famously quit going on stage after forgetting the words of a song and for actress Kim Bassinger where her social anxiety lead agoraphobia.
Social anxiety is more than simply being shy in the company. It can be a dread of everyday activities such as meeting people, constant worry about getting things wrong, and often shows in symptoms such as being physically sick when faced with social situations.
When to Seek Help to Overcome Social Anxiety
If you are avoiding situations because of your social anxiety, and it has to have an impact on your life, you need to find support to help you navigate the way forward. While asking for help can be challenging in itself, it’s important to do something positive in this respect.
Social anxiety usually gets worse if it is ignored. While avoiding social situations can make you feel immediate relief, this kind of behavior, unfortunately, makes the next event even more difficult to deal with.
Tips for Overcoming Social Anxiety
For someone suffering from social anxiety or crippling depression, solving the problem can seem insurmountable, but there are actually plenty of things you can do to take back control. The first is to identify the negative thoughts that you get when faced with any particular social situation.
This might include not wanting to make a fool of yourself, a feeling of inferiority, or simply believing that people think you are boring. You may well be reading actions or thoughts into other people that are simply not there, predicting that something will go wrong when there is no evidence or simply blowing things out of proportion.
When we are in a social situation and suffering from anxiety, it’s all too easy to focus on our own feelings and become detached from the real world. It’s important to move our attention more to other people, what is actually happening at the moment, and not being too concerned about yourself.
Yes, for someone with a social anxiety disorder, this can be challenging in itself and takes a lot of practice to overcome.
Learning to control your breathing is likely to help, and meditation has been shown to improve anxiety levels in a wide range of people. The first thing that happens when we get anxious is our breathing becomes shorter and faster. Learning to slow your breathing in difficult situations can certainly help.
It’s important not to try and avoid social situations, as this can help reinforce your anxiety. However difficult it may be, it’s essential to face your fear. Taking small steps will help. For example, attending small social events with a friend you trust can put you more at ease.
If your anxiety disorder seems unsurmountable, you may also like to try Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT. This involves challenging the premise on which your social anxiety is based on talking things through with a therapist.
If you want to overcome social anxiety, the last thing you should do is avoid the issue. Facing up to your problem and developing ways to cope are all necessary. Finding a local social anxiety group is also important if you are having difficulty and can be a tremendous resource for advice and support.