Q: How Can We Reestablish Healthy In
A: You may find it physically and emotionally exhausting to relearn all those little social graces that you havent actively practiced during the pandemic. Just try to be kind to yourself throughout the process.
Remember that were all getting used to certain conversational elements, including tone of voice, not interrupting and taking a breath before speaking. Our comfort level with those practices will likely come back pretty quickly once we get used to them.
And try not to worry about awkward silences or those moments when you dont know what to say. Remember: There are always two people in the conversation, and each of you shares 50% of the burden of filling that air space.
Sometimes, pointing out your discomfort can defuse tension, too. When you say, Well, I seem to have run out of things to talk about, you may find that the other persons response is, Oh, thank goodness. I dont know what to say, either! That kind of honesty can help you both cope.
Using The Stepladder Approach To Help With Social Anxiety
The stepladder approach is a gentle behaviour technique that you can use to help children with anxiety, including social anxiety. It involves starting small and tackling little things before you face the really scary things.
For example, if your child has trouble talking to new people, they could start by saying goodbye to a friend theyve met a few times, building up to saying hello to someone theyve just met, and eventually having conversations with other children at school.
Social Anxiety And Self
How does this relate to social anxiety? If you apply this to social anxiety, you can imagine that the person struggling with SAD would be stuck at the level of safety needs. If you struggle daily with social anxiety disorder, you may not feel in control of your mind and body. You also might have trouble finding or keeping a job, meeting people, and other situations.
Social anxiety makes it hard for you to seek friendship, improve family bonds, feel good about yourself, and show yourself respect.
It also might make it hard for you to be creative, spontaneous, and accepting. When you are focused on when the next anxiety attack is coming, it can be hard to step back and accept yourself, choose creative pursuits, or make spontaneous plans.
But does it have to be that way? Was Maslow necessarily right in all cases?
Results from a 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested that a person could achieve self-actualization and good social relationships even if basic and safety needs are not completely met.
Perhaps this means that you can jump up into self-actualization, even if you are still battling social anxiety. Try to make small changes each day to feel more in control. Focus on one area at a time until you have mastered it. Alongside these small changes, you can also be working on overcoming your anxiety.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Va Rating For Anxiety
Take The Focus Off Yourself
Try shifting your attention to whatâs happening around you instead of whatâs inside your head. You can do this by really listening to the conversation thatâs happening or reminding yourself that other people probably canât tell how anxious you are just by looking at you. People appreciate when others act genuine and interested, so focus on being present and a good listener.
Check In With Yourself
When youre out in public and start feeling anxious, its easy to spiral and become fixated on everything that appears to be going wrong, even if youre the only one feeling that way. In the moment, you need to focus outside of yourself and remind yourself, This is probably anxiety. I cant read their mind. I do not know what theyre actually thinking of me, Dr. Potter says.
This is easier said than done, of course, so she suggests using a technique called five senses that can help you regain perspective and stay in the moment. Do a check-in with yourself of all of your five senses to get yourself more externally focused. Distract yourself from unpleasant internal sensations and negative thoughts, says Dr. Potter. Then you can try to refocus on: What are they actually saying to me? What else is going on right now? What can I see? What can I hear? What can I feel?
Professional Help For Social Anxiety In Children
If youre worried about your childs anxiety and feel that its affecting their enjoyment of life, consider seeking professional help. Here are some places to start:
- your childs teacher at preschool or school, or a school counsellor
- your childs GP or paediatrician, who can refer you to an appropriate mental health practitioner
- your local childrens health or community health centre
- a specialist anxiety clinic
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.
Don’t Miss: What To Do When You Get Anxiety At Night
Gradually Introduce Yourself To Anxiety
Dr. Potter recommends what she calls situational exposure. Identify certain social situations youre afraid of, and work your way up from easier to more difficult scenarios while practicing relaxation techniques so you can tolerate anxiety. For example, if you have a fear of large groups, and youve been mostly avoiding group activities, start by going out with a friend one on one, she explains. Then work your way up to going out with a small group of friends. Repeat as needed until you feel more comfortable before attempting to go to a restaurant, a bar or a party where there would be more people. You can also work on situational exposure with the support of a therapist, Dr. Potter says. Like cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy is a type of treatment a trained psychologist can provide.
How Can I Be Tested For Social Anxiety
There is no medical test for social anxiety disorder. A psychiatrist or other mental health professional can make a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder based on your own description of your symptoms, how they occur, and in what situations. Your doctor will use criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to determine if your symptoms warrant a diagnosis.
Also Check: How Much Cbd Oil For Anxiety
Take A Test To See How You Feel
If youre unsure about the way you feel, take our anonymous online test to check whether your levels of stress, anxiety, or depression are within a healthy range, and see if one of our online courses could help.
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?
Join A Virtual Book Club
If youd rather read a book than go out with people, turn this hobby into something that will help you get over your social anxiety. Join a virtual book club that can help you meet new friends who share your passion. The great thing about joining a book club is that there will already be a topic to be discussed so you dont have to worry about running out of things to say. A book club will also help you become comfortable in sharing your thoughts and opinions with other people.
Recommended Reading: What Piercing Helps With Anxiety
Understanding Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is more than just feeling shy or nervous. It is a more intense feeling that they may likely embarrass themselves if exposed to socializing, so they are faced with the crippling fear of humiliating themselves in front of others. It leaves them wondering why it is only me going through this, especially when they see others having fun and coping in such a situation.
The American Psychiatric Association defines social anxiety disorder as a mental disorder in which one has a persistent fear of one or more social situations where embarrassment may occur, and the fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social status as determined by the persons cultural norms. It is a chronic mental condition that not just prevents people from making friends, contrary to what people perceive or portray it has. This condition affects every sphere of the life of people with social anxiety. Some situations where it could manifest include:
- Going for a job interview
- Having to talk to your thesis supervisor
- Having to warn your neighbor about a robbery going on in the area
- Receiving a prize in front of people
- Going to a friends birthday party
- If you are meeting a family member or friend for the first time.
So how does social anxiety disorder present itself?
Q: How Long Will Our Pandemic
A: With social anxiety, the anticipation is often worse than the actual event itself. You may start to feel better once youre able to see that that the worst has not, in fact, happened maybe after a couple days back in the office or a few larger social interactions. Your skills will probably return much faster than you think.
But if your nervousness persists, interferes with concentration or makes you feel symptoms of panic including trouble breathing, a racing heart and feeling shaky or faint it may be time to talk to adoctor.
No one will forget this pandemic, especially those whove experienced so much hardship and grief. But people can recover from loss and trauma, and they can also show incredible resilience.
Read Also: How Can I Get My Anxiety Under Control
Talk Back To Negative Thoughts
These thoughts might be about people or situations, and they may even be automatic. Most of the time, theyâre wrong. But they can cause you to misread things like facial expressions. This could lead you to assume people are thinking things about you that they arenât.
One way to do this is simply to use pen and paper:
Hereâs a broad example:
- Negative thought: âThis situation makes me so anxious, I wonât be able to deal with it.â
- Challenge: âIâve felt anxious before but Iâve always gotten through it. Iâll do my best to focus on the positive parts of the experience.â
Go On A Group Outdoor Hike Or Try Extreme Sports
An outdoor hike is an ideal activity that you can do with a group of people while still maintaining a physical distance. This is a baby step if youre not yet comfortable doing things around a lot of people because you are typically not required to talk with one another and interaction is minimal. Being in nature is also beneficial for stress and anxiety so it helps increase your happiness levels.
If youre ready to face your fears, trying out a social-distancing friendly extreme activity like indoor skydiving or go-kart racing is something that could benefit you. These extreme activities can help you realize that you are stronger than you think and that even if you do something that scares you, you can manage it.
Read Also: Does B12 Help With Anxiety
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
A great way to calm yourself down if you are feeling anxious or panicky in a social situation is to pay attention to your current surroundings. Pick out three things you can sense in the environment around you things you hear, things you see, things you smell, etc. This exercise can help you draw yourself out of the worries and anxiety in your head and focus on the external situation around you, which can help you feel less panicked and more at ease when interacting with others.
Move Beyond Your Comfort Zone
You may be thinking: But thats the problem. I cant! The trick is in setting manageable goals for yourself.
For example, if youre new to running, you probably wouldnt begin by signing up for a marathon. Instead, you might start by running only a minute at a time and walking for a while, too. The same can apply when dealing with shyness and social anxiety.
Instead of taking on more than you can handle, you might begin by setting a goal you know you can complete. And that will look different for everyone.
For one person, a good first goal might be texting a friend to say hi. For another, it might look like taking a walk around the park when more people are outside.
To identify that kind of a goal, the key is to be honest with yourself about what steps you can take. If you tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself, you might need to scale back the goal to make it more manageable. Or maybe you need to push a bit beyond your comfort zone.
When it comes to identifying whats possible given your own social anxiety or shyness, youre the expert.
Recommended Reading: How To Treat Morning Anxiety
Make Lifestyle Changes For Anxiety
Certain lifestyle changes could build your self-confidence, thereby acting as social anxiety cures. Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, or energy drinks as these stimulants could trigger or aggravate your anxiety.
Researchers have discovered links between fermented food consumption with a decrease in symptoms of anxiety. The same study also highlighted how exercising helps reduce social anxiety. Ensure that you get enough sleep and drink enough water to keep your anxiety in check.