Take An Incremental Approach To Overcoming Social Anxiety
Keep in mind that working through a significant social anxiety habit is going to take time.
There are no quick fixes or silver bullets, tempting as that possibility is.
Unfortunately, many people start strong in their journey to overcome social anxiety only to have a setback or two, get discouraged, and then give up.
There are a couple reasons why this happens:
The solution to both of these issues, I think, is to foster an incremental attitude and approach to overcoming your social anxiety.
For example, after reading this guide, homely there are at least a handful of good ideas and strategies you want to implement in order to overcome your social anxiety.
Dont try to do them all at once!
Instead, pick one and focus on that until you start to see some progress and it feels more automatic for you. Only then move on to implementing another.
Do I Need Treatment For Anxiety
Thereâs a lot you can do on your own to relieve anxiety, but sometimes you need help. Psychotherapy and medication are the two main treatments for anxiety disorders.
Signs that itâs time to talk to a mental health professional include:
- Constant or nearly constant anxiety
- Anxiety that gets in the way of your daily activities, like work or social life
- Anxiety about things that donât actually threaten you
- Panic attacks
Check your health insurance policy to see what mental health services your plan covers. Then, review a list of your in-network providers to find one to connect with.
âYou donât want to add to your anxiety by paying big out-of-pocket fees,â Kissen says.
Your primary care doctor may also be able to recommend a mental health professional with experience treating anxiety and anxiety disorders.
Rosmarin notes that itâs important to find a provider you click with and trust. He also says therapy doesnât need to go on indefinitely to be effective.
âA course of cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety may be eight to 10 sessions,â he says. âThereâs also data to suggest that people feel substantially better after just one therapy session for panic disorder.â
How To Get Over Social Anxiety
Dr. Potter stresses that its important to address your social anxiety, even if this feels difficult since it can have a major impact on your life. It can have subtle negative effects on your career, friendships, dating life, or even family relationships, she says. It can affect you so broadly when you miss opportunities. When a persons isolated, it can lead to depression because you miss opportunities to have a good time or enjoy yourself, and feel connected to other people.
Luckily, Dr. Potter notes that social anxiety is very treatable, although strategies for overcoming social anxiety depend both on your individual personality and how much the disorder is affecting your life. For example, if you have panic attacks when going out in public because you are so overwhelmed, you might opt for medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. Less severe anxiety might be better served by a different treatment option.
Here are a few other ways to approach getting over social anxiety.
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Look For Silver Linings And Be Kind To Yourself
If your social anxiety isnt going away as fast as youd like, thats perfectly normal. It might be that you moved too fast and need to spend more time practicing other social encounters before youre up for the one youre stuck on, or you need to work more on relaxation techniques and distraction techniques so you can tolerate that situation next time, says Dr. Potter.
Analyzing after the fact what triggered a reaction, whether a panic attack or something else, can also help. Try to break down, How can I think about that differently? or How can I change the situation next time? Dr. Potter suggests. Lets say you go to a concert and start to have a panic attack because youre enclosed in by a lot of people. Maybe next time, you might sit in the back or on an aisle, or stay somewhere where you feel like theres an exit route if you feel anxious or closed-in.Dr. Potter adds that other people are generally way more focused on themselves than they are on others. They are most likely not scrutinizing your behavior in social situations, because they are busy thinking about what they are going to say or do next, she says. Your anxiety usually magnifies the negative and minimizes the positive so the things youre acutely aware of about yourself may not be particularly noticeable to others.
The Link Between Anxiety Symptoms And Depression
Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse , its important to seek treatment for both conditions.
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How Seeking Control Consumed Me
Like so many of the millions of people experiencing anxiety worldwide, I wanted to have control over my life. I became obsessed with losing weight, and although I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, I displayed some worrying symptoms.
I would weigh myself three or four times a day and divide all foods into categories of good or bad. Whole foods like chicken and broccoli were good, and anything processed was bad. I learned that foods like rice, oats, sweetcorn, and potatoes could spike your blood sugar and lead to cravings, so those foods became bad too.
The cravings came anyway, and I reacted by either chewing junk food and spitting it into the trash or eating large amounts of food until I felt sick.
I visited the gym every day, sometimes up to three hours at a time, lifting weights and doing cardio. At one point, my menstrual cycle stopped.
My body image issues then turned into social anxiety. I gave up alcohol to improve my mood, but without a vodka in my hand I found it difficult to unwind and open up, even around my best friends. This escalated to a bigger fear of having to explain myself to strangers. Why wasnt I drinking? Why wasnt I working anymore? Anxiety made me catastrophize and assume the worst possible outcome, leaving me terrified to socialize in public.
Pursuing Happiness As Your Primary Priority
The right strategy is having the right frame. The right frame is that the pursuit of happiness is your primary priority in life. Not as a cute metaphor that you think about occasionally, but as a vow. You owe it to yourself to live your best life, and if its not your primary priority, youre hustling backwards. If youre not convinced, check out these articles:
When you truly internalize happiness as your primary priority, you will instantly become less fearful, because it gives you that extra motivation to recognize every irrational fearful thought as unproductive and avoid giving it emotional energy.
Why am I causing myself to be less happy by indulging in this fear?
When your vow is truly serious, it gives you the direction to consistently choose the positive thought over the fearful thought. Or at the least to recognize when youre making a mistake, instead of wholeheartedly giving into and being absorbed by fear.
And choosing the positive thought over the fearful thought is the key to creating, a deep-level, positive identity.
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Listen To Good Mood Music
Music can have a powerful effect on your mood and on anxiety. They key however is to not just choose songs you like. but also make sure that you are listening to music that represents the way you want to feel. Happy or relaxing music can directly impact your mood and the way you feel.
While many people find it soothing to listen to angry music when theyâre angry or sad music when theyâre sad, the truth is that this type of music will only help you get in touch with those negative emotions. That won’t help you feel better. When you’re trying to stop anxiety, you should listen to music that will help you feel the way you want to feel.
Underlying Or Unaddressed Mental Health Conditions
If you have recently begun experiencing acute anxiety when you wake up in the morning, know that it may not be incidental. Morning anxiety could be associated with an underlying mental health condition. Sometimes morning anxiety is an indicator of general anxiety or depression. If you are experiencing morning anxiety daily, there is a good chance that there is an underlying condition that needs to be addressed by a mental health professional. Luckily, finding the right therapist to conduct in-person or virtual therapy sessions is easier than ever before. Remember, if you dont address your symptoms as they come up, they could worsen over time.
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Incorporate Exercise Into Your Morning Routine
Exercise helps us deal with anxious thoughts in two different ways. First, you are giving your mind a distraction from the thoughts that arise in the morning. Second, you can positively affect your brain chemistry. When you fit more exercise into your morning routine, you will be able to both curb those stressful thoughts and produce positive feelings at the same time. Instead of producing stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline, youll produce chemicals that minimize anxious feelings like GABA, serotonin, and certain types of endocannabinoids. These chemicals can help your brain relax and address your daily tasks without excessive stress.
Now that you have a few different resources for stress relief in mind, it is time to put our strategies to the test! While not every strategy will work for everyone, they are all proven to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. If you are experiencing excessive stress and anxiety, we recommend consulting a professional for help. Attending an in-person or a virtual therapy session could be the key to start feeling your best. Often, we are unable to properly explore our thoughts on our own, which is why therapy is beneficial for so many individuals. If you arent sure how to get started with in-person or virtual therapy sessions, we recommend contacting your primary care physician for assistance.
Explaining Concepts Around Fear And Anxiety
When people talk about fear and anxiety, they often use the words interchangeably. But theres a whole range of experiences on the anxiety spectrum. In fact, the DSM-5 actually classifies anxiety as a subset of mood disorders, and there are several different kinds. Learning to label the experience may help you feel better able to control it.
Here are some common terms used to describe fear and anxiety:
The term anxiety disorder refers to a classification of mental health diagnoses that result in anxiety symptoms. These include phobias and panic attacks. They also include obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder . Anxiety disorders have basic symptoms in common but can differ in severity.
A panic attack usually happens suddenly and without a specific trigger. Whereas many symptoms of anxiety are mental, panic attacks are notable for strong physical sensations. In fact, many people having panic attacks believe that they are experiencing a heart attack.
During a panic attack, people often feel an overwhelming sense of dread and as if they’re about to die. It is difficult to function through a panic attack. Despite the severity of panic symptoms, it is not always possible to tell that someone is having a panic attack by looking at them.
In order to classify as a true phobia, the aversion has to result in impairment to their daily life. People with phobias sometimes go to great lengths to avoid the trigger.
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Avoiding Social Gatherings Events Or Specific People
If youre trying to overcome social anxiety, its important to remember that its not all in your head. And I mean that literally: While worry places a central role in social anxiety, your behavior is equally important. Specifically, the tendency to avoid potentially scary social situations.
For example, many people with social anxiety get especially nervous and uncomfortable around new people. As a result, they frequently turn down to social gatherings theyve been invited to that involve unknown guests.
There are two problems with this habit of avoidance:
Even though social anxiety can feel like a very heady experienceworries, anxiety, nervousness, etcits crucial to learn to see that it has a strong behavioral component as well. How you choose to act is every bit as important in social anxiety as how you think and feel.
When To Worry About Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
Social anxiety disorders can also lead to physical symptoms. You might experience blushing, sweating, or a subjective sensation of feeling suddenly cold or warm, says Dr. Potter. You might also have physical tension, which could cause aches and pains, like a stomach ache. You can also experience symptoms associated with panic, even if you dont have a full-blown panic attack. Panic symptoms are your heart beating fast, shortness of breath, a subjective feeling of losing control or a fear of sudden, impending doom, says Dr. Potter. People with social anxiety will typically experience some of these symptoms, including at a lower threshold, too.
Determining whether these symptoms are from anxiety, or a more serious medical condition can be difficult. If the pain goes away quickly after the anxiety-provoking situation has stopped, and if you have a subjective sense of knowing that you are currently afraid of something, then its more likely what you are feeling is probably anxiety, says Dr. Potter. But if youre in doubt, you should definitely talk to a doctor about it and get advice on specific signs to look out for and what your risk factors are. If you have a known heart condition, this advice is even more important. You want to be much more careful about seeking medical care for any of these types of symptoms, she says. And if you have cardiac conditions and you have anxiety, you should talk to your doctor about how to differentiate the two.
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