Simple Steps To Feeling More Socially Confident
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. Anxiety Care UK states that social anxiety is a common and distressing condition, with as many as 40 percent of the population suffering from it.
Young People With Social Anxiety
Experiencing social anxiety and fear of social interactions can make simple responsibilities almost impossible to overcome. An estimated 15 million American adults have social anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, with young adolescents who are transitioning to secondary school or college being particularly vulnerable. Its suggested that social anxiety disorder symptoms usually begin around the age of 13.
The good news is that there are ways to develop new habits to help ease and overcome your social anxiety.
1. Challenge your negative and anxious thoughts. At times it may feel like theres nothing you can do about the way you feel and how you think. In reality, though, there are a number of things that can help.
4. Create an exposure hierarchy. Identify and rate how each social situation makes you feel in terms of anxiousness. For example, 0 would mean no anxiety, and 10 would be a full-blown panic attack.
The Difference Between Normal Worry And Gad
Worries, doubts, and fears are a normal part of life. Its natural to be anxious about an upcoming test or to worry about your finances after being hit by unexpected bills. The difference between normal worrying and generalized anxiety disorder is that the worrying involved in GAD is:
|Normal Worry vs. Generalized Anxiety Disorder|
|Your worrying doesnt get in the way of your daily activities and responsibilities.||Your worrying significantly disrupts your job, activities, or social life.|
|Youre able to control your worrying.||Your worrying is uncontrollable.|
|Your worries, while unpleasant, dont cause significant distress.||Your worries are extremely upsetting and stressful.|
|Your worries are limited to a specific, small number of realistic concerns.||You worry about all sorts of things, and tend to expect the worst.|
|Your bouts of worrying last for only a short time period.||Youve been worrying almost every day for at least six months.|
What You Can Do About Your Anxiety Right Now
When you feel anxious, it may help to acknowledge the fact that youre anxious. If you can, try and take a step back and consider the situation. Identifying who or what is making you anxious can be a useful coping tool.
During times of stress and alarm, it can help to remember that your feelings of anxiety should pass once the stressful event is over.
Here are a few things you can do to help lower your anxiety in the moment:
- Reach out to someone you trust for support. Sometimes, talking things through can help you gain calm and relieve anxious thoughts.
- Set boundaries. Try to practice saying no to work or personal requests if you have too much on your plate.
- Practice activities that might help calm or center you:
of moderate exercise a week for most adults.
A 2019 study found that this amount of exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Anxiety Diarrhea
Tone Your Inner Power Daily
Think of your inner power as a muscle just like any other muscle. The more you use it, the more toned it becomes and the more you are able to accomplish. Every time you practice a healthy life strategy, you actually increase your ability to conquer your anxiety. What you couldnt do yesterday, you can do today. With practice, your new skills will become automatic. This is how you create lasting freedom from anxiety.
In the words of Aristotle: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
How Can I Treat Anxiety
Anxiety can be treated in a variety of ways. One common treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy , which helps provide people with tools to cope with anxiety when it occurs.
There are also certain medications, like antidepressants and sedatives, that work to balance brain chemistry and prevent episodes of anxiety. They may even ward off the most severe symptoms.If youre looking to go a more natural route, though, there are little and big ways you can help combat anxiety.
You can make adjustments to habits, like exercise, sleep, and diet. You can also try something totally new, like aromatherapy or meditation. No matter what your lifestyle demands, theres a natural way to help reduce anxiety for everyone.
Recommended Reading: What Pills Help With Anxiety
How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Related To Anxiety Disorders
Some people feel the effects of stress in their stomachs. People with IBS have uncomfortable problems with digestion, including stomach pain, constipation and diarrhea. They also frequently have anxiety and depression, which can make symptoms worse.
The connection between IBS and anxiety comes from the nervous system partly controlling the colon. The nervous systems response to stress may affect the stomach. Among people who get treated for IBS, anywhere from 50% to 90% may also have an anxiety disorder or depression. Treatment for IBS may include stress management and psychotherapy to relieve symptoms.
How Does Psychotherapy Treat Anxiety Disorders
Psychotherapy, or counseling, helps you deal with your emotional response to the illness. A mental health provider talks through strategies to help you better understand and manage the disorder. Approaches include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common type of psychotherapy used with anxiety disorders. CBT for anxiety teaches you to recognize thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings. You then work on changing them.
- Exposure therapy focuses on dealing with the fears behind the anxiety disorder. It helps you engage with activities or situations you may have been avoiding. Your provider may also use relaxation exercises and imagery with exposure therapy.
Also Check: How To Reduce Anxiety In The Moment
Stay Socially Engaged And Get Support
Prioritize maintaining a strong social network. This could look like a small group of close, trusted friends or a wider net. Social interactions can distract you from your own stressors and give you someone to turn to when you need to talk.
Spending time with friends and family who you feel safe and comfortable around can help limit social anxiety. It can also provide a safe space to share feelings and stresses to prevent them from building up inside you.
You might also find it helpful to connect with others who are dealing with anxiety. Youre not limited to in-person connection, either. You can reach out online, on the phone, or through video chat.
Resources for anxiety
back thousands of years.
During an acupuncture session, a practitioner will insert tiny, thin needles into pressure points on your body. Putting pressure on these points is thought to balance the bodys systems, reducing pain and stress.
suggests acupuncture may be a safe and effective alternative way to alleviate anxiety. However, experts agree more research is needed to determine its efficacy.
Suffering From Severe Anxiety
Anxiety is an incredibly stressful, but arguably manageable disorder. Many people still work, spend time with friends, and hold onto relationships while living with anxiety. But others are more affected by it, and some even struggle to complete the tasks of everyday life.
The best way to characterize a severe anxiety disorder is one that is disabling or significantly impairs someone from managing their activities or responsibilities. For example:
- Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia – Agoraphobia is a fear of being outdoors or in unfamiliar places. Panic disorder is generally characterized as with or without agoraphobia. Panic attacks can be disabling on their own, and so severe that hospitalization is required. However, the addition of agoraphobia worsens their symptoms and experiences, because it makes it difficult to go outside or enjoy any type of social life – and the anxiety a person does experience while outdoors is significant.
- Severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Some individuals suffer from severe OCD, which consists of being so engrossed in repetitive thoughts and the need to perform acts/compulsions in order to ease the anxiety caused by the thoughts. The degree of compulsions can make people unable to actually live their lives because they are forced to spend so much time acting out their compulsions.
You May Like: What To Do If My Puppy Has Separation Anxiety
The Most Common Anxiety Disorders Include:
- Specific phobias Phobias could be related to animals, like spiders, cats or dogs the natural environment, such as heights, storms or being in water blood injection injury, which is a fear of needles or invasive medical procedures or locations, like airplanes, elevators or enclosed places.
- Social anxiety disorder
- This is an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort.
Coping Skills For Anxiety
You can try the following coping mechanisms for anxiety one at a time, or in combination to find what works for you. Practice your chosen skill once or twice a day for as many days as you need to accustom your body and mind and to establish a habit. While many of these techniques can be self-administered, some require the guidance and oversight of a professional therapist.
You May Like: How To Control My Anxiety
Managing Anxiety Vs Curing It
There is a considerable difference between managing anxiety and curing anxiety. Managing anxiety does not mean it no longer exists. It means that you have learned skills or utilized medications to bring your symptoms under better control.
Most individuals can learn to manage their anxiety. Curing anxiety insinuates that you will likely never suffer from anxiety again. Anxiety is just like most chronic illnesses there is rarely a cure, but almost always a way to manage it.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Writing down whats making you anxious gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting.
These relaxation tricks are particularly helpful for those who experience anxiety sporadically. They may also work well with someone who has generalized anxiety disorder when theyre in a bind!
However, if you suspect you have GAD, quick coping methods shouldnt be the only kind of treatment you employ. Youll want to find long-term strategies to help lessen the severity of symptoms and even prevent them from happening.
Recommended Reading: How To Lower Anxiety Levels
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment
People who have GAD must learn ways to cope with anxiety and worry. Your doctor can help you form a plan and develop skills to do so. The plan may include counseling, medicine, or both. Counseling can help you figure out whats making you so tense. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to help you feel less anxious. Your doctor will recommend the treatment thats right for you.
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Get Anxiety In The Morning
Who Can Diagnose Anxiety Disorders
If your provider finds no signs of physical illness, they may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These mental health professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They may use specially designed interview and assessment tools to figure out if you have an anxiety disorder. Typically, the provider bases a diagnosis on:
- Your reported symptoms, including how intense they are and how long they last.
- Discussion of how the symptoms interfere with your daily life.
- The providers observation of your attitude and behavior.
Providers also consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . The American Psychiatric Association publishes the DSM-5. Its the standard reference manual for diagnosing mental illnesses.
Don’t Miss: How To Control Overthinking And Anxiety
What Is An Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder is a type of mental health condition. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may respond to certain things and situations with fear and dread. You may also experience physical signs of anxiety, such as a pounding heart and sweating.
Its normal to have some anxiety. You may feel anxious or nervous if you have to tackle a problem at work, go to an interview, take a test or make an important decision. And anxiety can even be beneficial. For example, anxiety helps us notice dangerous situations and focuses our attention, so we stay safe.
But an anxiety disorder goes beyond the regular nervousness and slight fear you may feel from time to time. An anxiety disorder happens when:
- Anxiety interferes with your ability to function.
- You often overreact when something triggers your emotions.
- You cant control your responses to situations.
Anxiety disorders can make it difficult to get through the day. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for anxiety disorders.
Treatment For Anxiety And Depression
Medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression and anxiety. Your primary care provider or psychiatrist can prescribe medications to relieve symptoms. Many people benefit from outpatient psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy.
Additional treatment can include changing your exercise or eating habits, using social supports, getting enough sleep, changing your responses to stress, avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs, and joining a support group.
If you have severe depression or anxiety, you may need to use crisis resources, like contacting a crisis hotline, going to the nearest emergency department for a mental health evaluation or participating in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program until your symptoms improve.
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Morning Anxiety
You Can Overcome Chronic Anxiety You Can Get Your Life Back
Its not easy for most people, and it probably wont be easy for you either, but the good news is that it can be done. Despite all the trouble, despite all the fears, despite the years of avoidance and anticipation and shame, this is a solvable problem for most people.
Heres the big picture: Panic and anxiety literally confuse and trick you into changing your everyday behaviors to oppose, flee, and get rid of the anxiety symptoms. Its easy to get tricked this way, because the anxiety symptoms are so uncomfortable and unpleasant that anybody would want to get rid of them. And so, once youve been frightened and upset by a first panic attack, or obsessive thought, or instance of very high anxiety, youll naturally be motivated to avoid and protect against it. Anybody would!
And thats how you get tricked. Its like that moment in a crowded subway car when someone yells out watch out for pickpockets, and everybody in the car checks their wallet to make sure its still there. They just tried to reassure themselves that they havent been robbed, but the person who called out watch out for pickpockets was probably one of the pickpockets, and if you just patted your wallet, now they know where it is. Now youre more likely to be robbed.
And yet, if youre like most people, you probably find the harder I try, the worse it gets. You may find yourself telling a therapist, as so many people have told me, Despite my best efforts, my anxiety keeps getting worse.
Other Psychological Treatment Approaches
Other types of psychological treatment focus more on trying to find the possible causes of the anxiety, such as traumatic childhood events. There hasnt been much good research on the effectiveness of these approaches in people with generalized anxiety disorder. The few studies that have compared them with cognitive behavioral therapy suggest that these psychodynamic therapies arent as helpful as cognitive behavioral therapy.
Read Also: Can A Therapist Prescribe Anxiety Medication
When To See A Doctor
Anxiety is normal and even adaptive, Hudenko says. It helps us to prepare for potential threats and at mild/moderate levels, anxiety can enhance our performance.
However, you should seek professional help when your anxiety increases to significant distress, leads to harm or inhibits your daily life. This may be caused by sudden stressful or traumatic life events or may result from longer-term, lower-level stress. Anxiety cant always be treated with coping mechanisms, and while they can provide relief, they are not a substitute for professional treatment.
When paired with existing feelings of anxiety, concerning symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping or falling asleep
- Inability to concentrate
Allow Yourself To Feel What Youre Feeling
Depression and anxiety are medical conditions, not the result of failure or weakness, and theyre absolutely not your fault.
Without a doubt, the unwanted emotions they cause can lead to plenty of distress. But knowing depression and anxiety result from underlying causes and triggers, not anything you did or didnt do, can promote self-compassion instead of criticism or self-punishment.
You May Like: Does Tylenol Help With Anxiety
How People Get Tricked
People’s natural instincts to protect themselves are what lead them to get tricked. See if you recognize your responses in these examples below.
A person with Panic Disorder gets tricked into holding her breath and fleeing the store , rather than shifting to Belly Breathing. and staying there until the feelings pass.
A person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder gets tricked into trying to stop the unwanted “what if?” thoughts, rather than accepting them and taking care of present business as thoughts come and go.
A person with Social Phobia gets tricked into avoiding the party, or hiding in the corner if he attends, rather than say hello to a stranger and see what happens.
A person with OCD gets tricked into repeatedly washing his hands, or returning home to check the stove, rather than accepting the intrusive thoughts of contamination and fire and returning his energies to the present activities at hand.
A person with a dog phobia gets tricked into avoiding the feelings by avoiding all dogs, rather than spending time with a dog until the feelings pass.