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How Do You Overcome Social Anxiety

Powerful Ways To Help Overcome Social Anxiety

How to overcome social anxiety and shyness

Jul 14, 2018 | Anxiety, Blog

Social anxiety disorder is often misunderstood and many people could be suffering in silence. Its much more than feeling shy and not wanting to speak up in big groups. It can really take control and impede your everyday life. Tasks such as leaving the house, speaking on the phone or shopping can be troubling and difficult to cope with. Anxiety Care UK states that social anxiety is a common and distressing condition with as many as 40% of the population suffering from it.

Social anxiety or phobia can have all sorts of repercussions and you may not only worry about negative evaluation but positive evaluation also. One study found that people who succeed at work might worry about outshining their coworkers. They simply dont want to stand out, even positively.

People suffering from social anxiety disorder look to avoid social situations. About 20% of people with social anxiety also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence, with a recent study showing a stronger correlation among women. Research has shown that women have been more affected by social anxiety however its men that tend to seek more help for their phobia.

How To Overcome Social Anxiety

This article was co-authored by Donna Novak, Psy.D. Dr. Donna Novak is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in Simi Valley, California. With over ten years of experience, Dr. Novak specializes in treating anxiety and relationship and sex concerns. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University-Los Angeles. Dr. Novak uses a differentiation model in treatment that focuses on personal growth by increasing self-awareness, personal motivation, and confidence.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 457,476 times.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Social Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is considered to be one of the leading psychological treatments for social anxiety. All of our online courses use CBT strategies to help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Click below to see if CBT can help you tackle your symptoms to improve the way you feel.

Strategies for Managing Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Cognitive Strategies

People with social anxiety disorder tend to overestimate the likelihood of being judged by other people and underestimate their own worth. Theyre often self-critical, can fixate on their own flaws, and constantly compare themselves to other people. They can also be hyperaware of and embarrassed by the physical symptoms of anxiety, like blushing, sweating, or trembling.

Cognitive strategies help people identify and challenge these kinds of thoughts, and learn new, more helpful ways of thinking. In doing so, these strategies help can people become more confident and self-compassionate.

Behavioural Strategies

Two key features of social anxiety are avoidance and safety behaviours. Avoidance is when you miss out on fun or important experiences because of anxiety, for example, skipping a friends birthday party or an important presentation at work because youre afraid of being judged. Safety behaviours are things you do that help you cope with anxiety, like having a few drinks before you get to a party.

Coping With Symptoms of Social Anxiety

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Seek Out Social Situations

Another important step to overcoming social anxiety at work involves facing feared situations. Your natural urge is probably to avoid the things that make you anxious. Maybe its your boss, or maybe its the office meeting you dread so much. Avoiding only prevents you from discovering that the things that make you anxious arent as bad as you perceive them to be.

The process of facing what makes you anxious is called exposure. The process involves gradually and repeatedly going into a feared situation until you feel less anxious. Seeking out social situations, like eating your lunch with your co-workers, is not dangerous. It will not worsen your anxiety.

How do you seek out social situations at work?

  • Make a list of the things that make you anxious at work.
  • Build a fear ladder start from the thing that makes you least anxious and move on to those that make you most anxious.
  • Expose yourself starting from the least anxious activity and progress on to the activity you dread the most.
  • Practice these steps on a regular basis.
  • Reward yourself when you do it!

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How Is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated

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First, talk to your doctor or health care professional about your symptoms. Your doctor should do an exam and ask you about your health history to make sure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or counselor. The first step to effective treatment is to have a diagnosis made, usually by a mental health specialist.

Social anxiety disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy , medication, or both. Speak with your doctor or health care provider about the best treatment for you. If your health care provider cannot provide a referral, visit the NIMH Help for Mental Illnesses web page at www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp for resources you may find helpful.

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Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Social anxiety develops negative thoughts. The first step to help yourself is to challenge your mentality. These negative thoughts contribute to their fears and anxiety and some of them are:

  • I know Ill end up looking like a fool.
  • My voice will start shaking and Ill humiliate myself.
  • People will think Im stupid
  • I wont have anything to say. Ill seem boring.

For example, when you are worried about an upcoming social gathering, identify the underlying negative thought. It could be I wont have anything to say. Ill seem boring.

Next, analyze and challenge this negative thought. Be objective enough and ask questions like Do I know for sure that they will get bored with me?

Through this logical evaluation of your negative thought, replace them with encouraging and positive ways of looking at social situations that trigger your anxiety. When you understand the reasons for your anxieties, it will help lessen their negative impact on your life.

What Fears Are Involved

With social phobia, a person’s fears and concerns are focused on their social performance whether it’s a major class presentation or small talk at the lockers.

People with social phobia tend to feel self-conscious and uncomfortable about being noticed or judged by others. They’re more sensitive to fears that they’ll be embarrassed, look foolish, make a mistake, or be criticized or laughed at. No one wants to go through these things. But most people don’t really spend much time worrying about it. The fear and anxiety are out of proportion to the situation.

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Overcome Social Anxiety With Joyables Online Cbt Program

Weve talked about how common social anxiety is, and how theres a proven solution to treat it . However, the shocking truth is 85 percent of Americans who struggle with social anxiety each year dont get help. Why? Sometimes its a lack of awareness that prevents people from seeking help. Sometimes, sadly, its stigma. But even for those who know they have social anxiety and want help, huge cost and access barriers prevent them from getting treatment. The average cost of a single 45-minute session with a U.S. therapist is $180. Even if you can afford that, you might not be able to find an available therapist nearby. There arent even close to enough therapists to treat the number of people struggling with social anxiety about a third of the U.S. population lives in a mental health desert, with more than half of mental health sufferers not receiving treatment.

Overcoming social anxiety is hard work. With Joyable, you dont have to do it alone. When you start the program, youre paired with a personal coach. Your coach is your advocate and accountability partner. Theyre trained in CBT and help guide you if you have a hard time challenging your negative thoughts. They also give you an extra push when you need it to face situations you fear.

Write Down Your Thoughts

How Do You Overcome Social Anxiety?

Try writing down your thoughts to overcome social anxiety, too. As Louis Laves-Webb, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, explains, Writing down your thoughts as they come up is a great way to look at them with some perspective. With perspective, youll probably find that most of whats making you anxious falls into one of two categories. Either theyre things that wont actually happen, or theyre things you have no control over. Get in the habit of writing down whats making you anxious and, in your head, labeling these feelings as anxious. It will give you the perspective you need to dismiss rather than obey your anxiety.

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What To Do If You Have Social Anxiety

If you think you have social anxiety, the most important question to ask yourself is whether it prevents you from achieving your goals. For example, we mentioned earlier that a large majority of people report a fear of public speaking. You might be one of them. But if your job or goals dont require public speaking, then being afraid of it might not be a big deal. On the other hand, if your fear is keeping you from getting the promotion you want, or getting in the way of an important personal goal, such as giving a speech at your sisters wedding, then you might consider looking for help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy widely is recognized as the most effective treatment for social anxiety. Its endorsed by leading mental health organizations, including the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the U.K. National Health Service. CBT is a set of activities proven to reduce your anxiety through repeated practice. It consists of two main parts: cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.

For example, if giving a presentation makes you extremely anxious, to the point where you might even call in sick to avoid it, your first exposure would be a similar but less anxiety-inducing situation, such as telling a story to a group of friends. Once you learn to get comfortable in these practice situations, youll be able to take your newfound confidence to more difficult situations you greatly fear or have been avoiding.

Imagine What Would Happen If Your Worst Fears Came True

It may seem counterproductive, but asking yourself Whats the worst thing that can happen? is a good way to confront your inner critic, according to author and clinical psychologist Ellen Hendriksen. Avoid words like always, never, everybody, and nobodytheyre vague and tend to overstate the risks you face. Instead, think about your specific fears of any given situation, and you will probably realize that failurewhether its tripping on stage or sounding awkwardisnt as bad as it seems. The more you rationalize it, the more Everyone will think Im a freak turns into The five or six people I talk to at the party might notice my hands shaking and think something is wrong with me, Hendriksen writes in her book How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety. If you do this enough, social situations wont seem quite as scary.

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Tips For Overcoming Social Anxiety Disorder

If the thought of having to attend a networking event, office holiday party, or family reunion with your uppity out-of-state cousins fills you with dread, then you might have social anxiety disorder. Also known as social phobia, the pervasive fear of being judged by ones peers affects an estimated 15 million Americans. If you think you might be one of them, a physician can recommend the best course of treatment for you, but there are a few tactics you can try in the meantime. Here are some tips for coping with social anxiety disorder.

Work With Your Strengths

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In order to get yourself out of a social anxiety rut, you don’t need to have an end goal of becoming a stand-up comedian or accomplished concert pianist.

If you love books, maybe joining a book club or even leading a book club would be your thing. Think about your interests and talents, and how you can bring more sociability into those areas in your life.

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What Is Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people. If you are socially anxious, you have an overwhelming fear of:

  • Being judged by others in social situations
  • Being embarrassed or humiliated
  • Being the center of attention
  • An intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming social situation
  • Fear that others will notice that youre nervous

For example, you may avoid all social contact because even a small talk and eye contact make you so uncomfortable. You will feel the following physical symptoms when out in a social gathering:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Trembling or shaking (including shaky voice
  • Sweating or hot flashes

Social anxiety disorder is seriously debilitating. But it can be treated. The best treatment approach involves combining cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or medication (such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors.

However, there are also self-help strategies to overcome social anxiety and they are as follows:

Tip : Face Your Fears

One of the most helpful things you can do to overcome social anxiety is to face the social situations you fear rather than avoid them. Avoidance keeps social anxiety disorder going. While avoiding nerve-wracking situations may help you feel better in the short term, it prevents you from becoming more comfortable in social situations and learning how to cope in the long term. In fact, the more you avoid a feared social situation, the more frightening it becomes.

Avoidance can also prevent you from doing things youd like to do or reaching certain goals. For example, a fear of speaking up may prevent you from sharing your ideas at work, standing out in the classroom, or making new friends.

While it may seem impossible to overcome a feared social situation, you can do it by taking it one small step at a time. The key is to start with a situation that you can handle and gradually work your way up to more challenging situations, building your confidence and coping skills as you move up the anxiety ladder.

For example, if socializing with strangers makes you anxious, you might start by accompanying an outgoing friend to a party. Once youre comfortable with that step, you might try introducing yourself to one new person, and so on. To work your way up a social anxiety ladder:

Dont try to face your biggest fear right away. Its never a good idea to move too fast, take on too much, or force things. This may backfire and reinforce your anxiety.

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