Feeling uneasy in social situations is something everyone experiences from time to time. However, some individuals grapple with a more severe form of distress known as Social Anxiety Disorder, which can interfere with their daily life. If you find that intense nervousness is impacting your personal relationships or preventing you from exploring new opportunities, it may be beneficial to seek professional assistance to understand and manage your anxiety.
Identifying Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder, or social phobia, is characterized by an acute discomfort in social interactions. This overwhelming fear of judgment or rejection can cause individuals to actively avoid social situations.
The signs of social anxiety disorder are manifold and can be broadly categorized into physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms.
Physical Indications Amid Social Interactions
- Flushed face, perspiration, or trembling
- Accelerated heart rate
- Stiff body posture
- Soft-spoken or minimal eye contact
- Feeling sick or nauseous
- Feeling like your mind is blank
Emotional Indications Before or During Social Engagements
- Fear of appearing anxious
- Difficulty in being around unfamiliar people
- Constant self-consciousness, embarrassment, or awkwardness in front of others
- Persistent fear of being judged, or concerns about embarrassing oneself in public
Behavioral Indications Before, During, or After Social Engagements
- Avoidance of crowded places or situations where one could be the center of attention
- Avoidance of activities or conversations for fear of embarrassment
- Acute fear or anxiety during social situations
- Spending excessive time post a social situation analyzing perceived mistakes
- Recurring expectations of negative outcomes from social interactions
Living with social anxiety can be isolating. You are not alone if you are struggling with this disorder. As many as 15 million adults in the U.S. are affected by social anxiety disorder, with young adults undergoing significant life changes—such as starting a new school or job—being particularly prone to feeling overwhelmed by social anxiety.
Techniques to Cope With Your Social Anxiety
Social anxiety need not hamper your ability to form friendships, try new experiences, and reach your potential. By developing new habits and coping mechanisms, you can better identify your feelings, adopt a more positive outlook, and overcome your social anxiety.
Confront Your Negative Thoughts
- Assess the reality of your fear
- Evaluate the worst possible outcome if your fear comes true. How bad is it? How likely is it to happen?
- What advice would you give to a friend experiencing the same fears as you?
- Remember that people are usually more focused on their own lives and are not as observant of others as you might think.
- Mistakes are a part of life. If you make a mistake, you’re not the first, nor will you be the last.
- Even if you do make an error, most people will still support you.
- If your worry persists, discuss your concerns with someone you trust and seek their feedback.
Practice Mindfulness and Breathing Exercises
- When you feel signs of social anxiety, allow yourself to experience the negative emotions without judgment.
- Stay present. Concentrating on the present moment can help to shift your attention away from future or past worries.
- Focus on your senses. Pay attention to what your body is feeling, your breathing, and your surroundings.
- When you notice your anxiety increasing, concentrate on taking slow, deep breaths.
Participate in Social Situations
- Start with less intimidating situations and gradually move on to more challenging ones as your comfort level increases.
- Engage with people you feel a connection with to reduce anxiety.
- Understand that you may not always succeed. It’s okay to step back if a situation becomes too overwhelming.
These strategies can be implemented independently or with a friend. If you’re finding it difficult to manage your anxiety on your own, it’s time to consult a therapist. Book here if you want to schedule a 10 minute free intake call: https://embracingjoy.com/initial-client-form/