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What Causes Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety doesnt have one specific cause. It generally develops from a complex combination of a few different factors, like genes, personality, and early life experiences.
Research suggests that theres a genetic component to social anxiety disorder. There isnt a set selection of genes that have been shown to cause social anxiety. However, it does seem to run in families and having a family member with social anxiety increases your chance of having this disorder as well.
Peoples early life experiences also influence the development of social anxiety. Experiencing situations that impact your confidence at a young age can be a risk factor for social anxiety, like overly critical parenting, bullying, or being excluded from important social groups. However, social anxiety can also develop in people who didnt have any significant negative experiences growing up.
Personality factors also contribute to social anxiety. Social anxiety is more common in people who are naturally shy or introverted. Personality traits like being perfectionistic and self-critical, or being a worrier, can also lead to social anxiety.
How To Deal With Social Anxiety
What is CBT?
Social Anxiety Can Interfere With Our Ability To Communicate Effectively
In Braving the Wildernessby Brené Brown, she states, We want to be a part of something, but we need it to be real not conditional or fake or constantly up for negotiation. As introverts, we gravitate toward meaningful conversation and stability in our social interactions, yet social anxiety can interfere with our ability to effectively and clearly communicate our thoughts. And when we are unable to communicate clearly, it can intensify our anxiety in social settings. As someone who deeply desires to be understood, I have often felt frustrated by my challenge to effectively communicate my thoughts in conversation. As a result, I have pulled away from others and prevented myself from building healthy relationships.
Additionally, I have witnessed confusion surrounding shyness, introversion, and social anxiety. These terms are frequently used interchangeably, and this can be unintentionally harmful. Therefore, I want to take a moment to define social anxiety and introversion.
The Upside Of Anxiety: 5 Ways It Helps Us Be Our Best Selves
5. Shift your focus. Anxiety turns your attention inward. You notice your heart racingWorry that your hands are shakingGrade your performance as you give it, almost always negatively. This is certain to increase your anxiety.
Instead: focus your attention on the task itself, whether it’s emphasizing key points in the presentation or pouring wine at a party. If you’re talking to someone, attend closely to what he or she is saying. Think about how he might be feeling and rather than what to say next.
If anxiety continues to build, focus on neutral factorsthe color and texture of the carpet, or the feel of the papers youre holding in your hand. Such a shift in focus will interrupt the anxiety cycle and let you attend to the business at hand.
6. Be willing to experience discomfort. Some things are worth doing even if you’re anxious. You will be amazed at what you can do while still feeling a lot of unpleasant sensations. Sometimes people will notice your anxiety other times, they won’t. Either way, you’ll feel better about yourself if you go ahead and act–do what you value. As I heard leading ACT psychologist Steven Hayes say, “Be willing to stand in the hurricane and do what you think is important.”
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Tip : Evaluate Your Diet
The idea that diet plays a key role in anxiety is overblown. A person can develop anxiety with or without a healthy diet, and there are no foods that will cure anxiety as though they are like medication.
But there is still benefit to changing your diet. Bodies that are high in nutrients and hydration tend to have better sleep, experience less discomfort, and help a person gain better energy to cope with anxiety.
On the flipside, there are some natural tools you can use to fight anxiety. For example, herbal supplements like kava can be taken as needed, and as long as you use them in combination with non-medicinal treatments, you shouldn’t start depending on them.
Similarly, you may find that your anxiety symptoms dissipate with other natural tools as well. You may benefit from magnesium supplements, for example, because magnesium is depleted during times of stress, and magnesium deficiency can lead to some very upsetting symptoms and difficulty controlling anxiety.
There are plenty of natural and healthy options to try, and you should consider talking to your doctor about them as a way to assist in your stress reduction techniques.
Finding Ways To Fight Anxiety
All of these strategies can be effective for those that want to learn how to fight anxiety. They each address specific issues that many of those with anxiety face, and integrating them into your life is a great way to reduce the effects on anxiety on your overall satisfaction.
But fighting anxiety isn’t enough. You need to win the war. For that, you need to be ready and willing to commit to a successful treatment option that will get to the heart of what is driving the anxiety, and has been shown to reduce anxiety in those that suffer from it regularly.
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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.
How To Overcome Social Anxiety According To Experts
Whether you’re hesitant about leaving the house post-lockdown or struggle with mental health in general, look no further than these tips on how to get rid of social anxiety for good.
No one feels comfortable going to a party where they don’t know a soul, and having to give a presentation to a room full of executives can bring on a serious case of stomach butterflies. But most people can push past it, knowing that they’ll end up having a good enough time or will score points with the boss, which outweighs the temporary discomfort. For those with social anxiety, though, the fear and discomfort can be crippling.
Affecting about 12 percent of U.S. adults at least once in their lifetime, social anxiety disorder is characterized by a pesistent fear of social or performance siituations in which you’re exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrunity from others, according to the National Institue of Mental Health.
“The thing about social anxiety is it’s unavoidable,” says Greta Angert, L.M.F.T., a psychotherapist specializing in depression and anxiety in Beverly Hills. “It’s not like a fear of heights or planes, where you can choose to avoid the situation.” Avoiding social interactions too often may keep that stress down, but it can also leave you passed over for promotions at work or hiding at home so often that you slip into extreme loneliness a serious risk to both your mental and physical health.
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Reduce Caffeine And Alcohol
While adding probiotics to your diet might help lessen some social anxiety, a couple of things could also make it worse including that morning cup of coffee or energy drink. Older research shows caffeine can increase feelings of panic and anxiety in people who already experience anxiety.
And in an animal study, consuming more caffeine in adolescence was linked to higher levels of anxiety in adulthood.
Like caffeine, alcohol may not be the best option if youre looking to reduce feelings of social anxiety. Some people use alcohol as a social lubricant, and it can work in the short term. But if using alcohol to soothe social anxiety becomes a habit, it can make you feel more anxious in regular settings over time.
Some research also suggests that alcohol could increase anxiety in shy people the day after drinking it. Even moderate amounts can affect your mood and anxiety level, so its a good idea to be mindful about how often you use it to take the edge off anxiety in social settings.
Challenge Negative Thought Patterns
People with social anxiety often spend an exorbitant amount of time worrying about what could happen. Often, these worries are over every little thing that might go wrong in a social setting.
Maybe you worry about:
- Laughing at the wrong time or inappropriately
- Sneezing or coughing
- Falling ill in front of others
While, yes, there is always the potential for these things to happen, and its true they might be a little bit embarrassing, try to keep things in perspective. We all make mistakes, and everybody understands this. Most times, any mistake you could make in a social setting or at a social event would be in front of people who wouldnt judge you. Just because you make a mistake doesnt mean someone is going to think differently about you or look down on you.
If you find that you have negative thoughts about an upcoming event, challenge yourself by trying to replace them with more helpful, positive ones. Try using a technique known as realistic thinking ask yourself questions about the scenarios youre worried about, and then answer in an honest and fair way. When you catch yourself imagining the social situation ending in disaster, you can ask yourself what is the worst that could happen? The best? And whats the most likely? Running through these kinds of scenarios with the help of your therapist can help you refocus your mind away from disaster scenarios.
Some questions you could ask yourself might include:
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How To Increase Your Self
Social anxiety ISN’T a death sentence!
3 days ago|7 min read
For people with social anxiety, the idea of going out and having conversations with someone new is often a daunting task. There may be times when it seems like nothing will ever change, but rest assured that you can find ways to increase your self-confidence despite your social anxiety. This article will break down some of the most effective things you can do to improve how confident you feel about yourself. So, if you’re feeling despondent about being so shy in front of people, read on for a list of ideas that’ll help immediately!
Now, here’s the good news: social anxiety ISN’T a death sentence! Even if you have social anxiety, there are still ways that you can take care of yourself and maintain a healthy sense of self-confidence in front of new people. These 7 tips will help you improve your mindset and get it back on track so that your self-confidence gets stronger.
When To Get Professional Help
If you find it difficult to manage your social anxiety on your own, or you are worried you mayhave a social anxiety disorder, it may be helpful to see a therapist and get a proper diagnosis.Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat social anxiety. Atherapist knowledgeable and experienced in CBT can help you overcome your fears by teachingyou how to challenge your unhelpful thoughts, relaxation strategies, and guiding you towardsexposure so you can feel comfortable around others.
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Here Are Some Helpful Tips:
Change your Lifestyle:
Maintain a healthy daily routine that includes exercise and getting enough sleep to reduce anxiety symptoms. Additionally, try limiting your caffeine intake,as coffee can amplify symptoms of anxiety.
Address Physical Symptoms:
Fight your threatening Thoughts:
Try addressing your worries in a more realistic way by asking yourself the following questions:
- Is it likely the outcome Im so afraid of will actually happen?
- If it happened, will I care about it in 5-10 years?
- Is it possible that something good could happen instead of bad?
Shift your Focus:
Try focusing on the task at hand rather than your thoughts and feelings of anxiety. This will allow you to get things done.
Fact vs Fiction:
Recognize your inner monologue is notoriously self-critical and that anxiety is your bodys way of protecting you. Dont feel ashamed about your social anxiety but remember youre not a mind reader or fortune teller!
Face your Fears:
Start with the least scary task and see if you can push yourself to do it. Then slowly start exposing yourself to the harder stuff. Before you know it, youll be more comfortable in anxiety-provoking situations.
In this video, a young teen gives a ted-talk about her struggles with social anxiety and how sheovercame it:
If you want to learn more about confidence-building skills, you can check out this book: The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens by Jennifer Shannon
What Is It Like Having Social Anxiety Disorder
In school, I was always afraid of being called on, even when I knew the answers. I didnt want people to think I was stupid or boring. My heart would pound and I would feel dizzy and sick. When I got a job, I hated to meet with my boss or talk in a meeting. I couldnt attend my best friends wedding reception because I was afraid of having to meet new people. I tried to calm myself by drinking several glasses of wine before an event and then I started drinking every day to try to face what I had to do.
I finally talked to my doctor because I was tired of feeling this way and I was worried that I would lose my job. I now take medicine and meet with a counselor to talk about ways to cope with my fears. I refuse to use alcohol to escape my fears and Im on my way to feeling better.
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