Social anxiety is closely related to and considered to be a more severe form of shyness. It is common and most people will suffer from some sort of social anxiety at some point in their life. Public speaking is big on the list for causing SA and most people will suffer with anxiety about this particular situation, even experienced public speakers are not exempt from this.
It’s just a matter of the severity of anxiety suffered that ranges from normal levels to excessive levels of social anxiety that begin to negatively affect and restrict a person’s life.
How do you know if you suffer from social Anxiety? there are various different symptoms which show themselves at various different times.
- Do you feel that people are constantly judging you which leads to you wanting to become unseen, a desire not to draw attention to yourself or even being invisible.
- Do you avoid social situations, parties, work events as often as you can? to a more extreme you may try and avoid work itself, collage or even visiting the local shop. If you do attend certain events you try and stay out of the way as much as possible.
- Do you have anxiety after a social situation? you may be concerned about how you are being judged after the social event or the interaction itself.
- Do you feel the need to use drugs or alcohol before certain social events or activities?
Increased risks that come from social anxiety
- Drug & alcohol abuse
- Unhealthy relationships
- Unhealthy defence mechanisms
Higher risk of suffering from obsessions and compulsions such as OCD and other disorders.
How to overcome social anxiety & shyness
Make a list of exposure challenges
People with social anxiety soon learn that avoidance is a great way to ease their anxiety. If you’re feeling anxious about walking into a shop and having that fear or feeling that everyone is watching and judging you. You can avoid that anxiety by simply not walking into that shop.
The avoidance is a short term solution, however if someone does that to every situation the anxiety will only get worse with time. It’s a short term solution that will do more harm than good in the long term.
One solution is to make a list of all the situations that cause you anxiety, pick the ones that cause the least anxiety and start working on them. So it could be walking into a shop, asking for directions or asking for advice on something. In time you should be able to overcome the easier situations and then you can work on challenging yourself on the bigger more challenging avoidance’s like talking to strangers or even public speaking.
Now there is much evidence that shows that CBT can be effective for helping people with social anxiety. CBT looks into the current way that you think about things and the connections and associations that your minds makes and tries to break negative thinking circles.
Seeking out other forms of therapy and professional help would also be recommended as CBT might not be as effective for anyone.
When someone suffers from social anxiety they tend to get overwhelmed with unconscious, negative and irrational thoughts. For example being humiliated in a social situation or generally just negative outcomes.
Thinking about a situation rationally and objectively is sometimes enough to reduce anxiety, think about the situation and understand that the worst case scenario is unlikely to happen. Realize that all the worry and self doubt is just in your head which doesn’t reflex reality.
Positive Self Talk
Affirmations or positive self talk is a short term way of replacing the negative unconscious with positive in the moment thinking. It’s simply repeating a positive statement over and over again which increases confidence and reduces anxiety. For more on this see the affirmations and positive self talk page.