How To Reduce Negative Thoughts
Why Does It Matter
Did you know that 76% of Americans encountered stress or anxiety issues in the past year alone?Unfortunately, the seriousness of conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression is often understated â these issues can manifest into physical symptoms if not treated properly.Sensa is built to help you through whatever mental health issues affect you most. From burnout to procrastination, ADHD to anxiety, and everything in between.
Talk About Your Social Anxiety More
This one sounds intimidating but its also really powerful!
Im sure you saw Talk about your social anxiety more and thought something along the lines of Yeah, right! Being socially anxious is hard enough without sharing it with other people at the same time!
I get it.
But, the psychology of social anxiety is pretty counterintuitive in this respect.
First of all, talking about your social anxiety will help you feel less alone. WAY more people than you would imagine suffer with social anxiety. Seriously, many of the people you interact with on a daily or weekly basis likely also have some social anxiety but are just good at hiding it.
See, when you start being a little more open about the fact that you struggle with social anxiety, you open the door for other people to share that they do as well. And when it happens, its often profoundly validating and relieving to know first-hand that other people struggle like you do.
But when you acknowledge and express upfront that you tend to get a little anxious in social situations you A) immediately disarm other people by being vulnerable, and B) take off that entire second layer of pressure to not appear anxious.
Thanks to Michelle Cadieux for inspiring this section!
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Social Anxiety Disorder: Signs Causes How To Overcome
Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, causes intense fear of embarrassment or rejection by other people. Its a common mental health condition, and can cause significant emotional distress for the people experiencing it. Therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes can all help in overcoming social anxiety. Learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of social anxiety in this article.
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.
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When To Get Help For Social Anxiety
It’s a good idea to see a GP if you think you have social anxiety, especially if it’s having a big impact on your life.
It’s a common problem and there are treatments that can help.
Asking for help can be difficult, but a GP will be aware that many people struggle with social anxiety and will try to put you at ease.
They’ll ask you about your feelings, behaviours and symptoms to find out about your anxiety in social situations.
If they think you could have social anxiety, you’ll be referred to a mental health specialist to have a full assessment and talk about treatments.
You can also refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service without a referral from a GP.
Focus On Your Objectives
A significant aspect that affects most of the people that suffer from social nervousness is the negative or positive reaction of individuals.
How the people around you receive your message or idea is not such a major factor. What matters most is that you have spoken out your mind, and the people around know where you stand.
Also, many people are affected by natural processes like sweating or blushing, which is hard to control, especially when in a social gathering.
The point here is to focus on if you accomplished what you were planning, and not on how nervous you are. Take your focus off yourself.
Anxiety in a social gathering can be brought about when one thinks or believes that a particular person is present in the audience.
Most people have different feelings and behaviors when in public due to a particular person, whom they blush when in front of them.
However, you can try and tell your mind that those people are not in the gathering, and you could also try and avoid direct eye contact with them.
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Tips For Managing Social Anxiety When Giving A Public Speech Or Performance
Lets say you are thinking about a presentation you have coming up. You become increasingly anxious. Try to identify the specific thoughts that make you nervous. In other words, what are you telling yourself could happen that makes you feel anxious?
You could be afraid that:
You will forget what you plan to say while speaking.
You will trip as you walk to the microphone.
Other people will think you sound stupid.
The audience will laugh at you.
You will pass out while everyone is watching you.
You will get sick in public.
All of these thoughts have unwanted outcomes. To change negative beliefs, you want to look for contrary evidence. This is evidence that suggests that your fears might not be entirely accurate.
Heres how you can look for new evidence. Begin by asking yourself:
Have I gotten sick in public before?
Would people be compassionate toward me if something did go wrong?
What is the worst thing that could happen if I forget what I plan to say?
Is it possible that other people also forget what they were supposed to say when theyre nervous?
What makes me think I will sound stupid?
Do my friends usually say I sound silly?
Is it possible that I dont sound ridiculous?
How would I treat someone else who is nervous about public speaking?
What advice would I give to a friend who was in my position?
There is a good chance that you have something worthwhile to say. It is likely that you wont trip walking up to speak. But if you do, people will probably be sympathetic.
Be Kind To Yourself And Others
Beating yourself up with self-criticism will not help you to address or work through your social anxiety. Instead, try to practice self-compassion and positive self-talk.
Whenever you find yourself feeling scared or anxious about a social situation, send yourself a kind message, like, I know speaking in front of others makes me feel scared, but Im going to be OK.
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How K Health Can Help
Want mental health support? Get connected to care in minutes. K Therapy offers free smart chats, which are dynamic, pre-written conversations designed by experts that cover a number of common mental health topics such as depression, anxiety, stress, relationships, and more. Access them for free by downloading the K Therapy app.
K Health also offers anxiety medication for the right candidates.
Online therapists are also available in select states for individualized care. Connect with a licensed mental health therapist for unlimited asynchronous text-based therapy. Therapists respond Monday through Friday between 9am-5pm, within 24-hours.
Identify Your Safety Behaviors And Eliminate Them
Many people who are anxious engage in superstitious behaviors that they think make them safer or less likely to humiliate themselves. These safety behaviors include self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, holding yourself very stiffly, avoiding eye contact, holding a glass tightly saw that people wont see your hands shake, wiping your hands so that people wont notice you are sweating, rehearsing verbatim exactly what you will say, and talking very fast. The problem with safety behaviors is that they are like the training wheels on a bicyclethey make you think that the only way you can get through these experiences is by using the training wheels. The more you can give up these behaviors the more powerful your experiences will beI did it without a drink or I did it without rehearsing everything.”
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What Are Symptoms Of Social Anxiety
Anxiety is a physical, mental, and emotional state during which the body enters fight, flight, or freeze mode. When a person experiences anxiety, their nervous system is in a state of dysregulation.
This can cause symptoms such as:
- Undiagnosed mental health disorders
- Prolonged stress
Social anxiety is increasingly common. For many, the added pressures of social media can enhance fear of failure and the need to succeed in social situations. This pressure can trigger anxiety as an unrealistic threat to their overall well-being.
Diagnosing Social Anxiety Disorder
Your healthcare provider may ask you questions about your medical history and complete a physical exam to rule out any medical causes for your symptoms. If you get the medical all-clear, they may then refer you to a mental health professional.
A trained mental health professional will ask you about your symptoms, including when they occur and how often. This information will help them create the best treatment plan for you.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition includes the following criteria for diagnosing social anxiety disorder :
- Intense fear or anxiety around social situations where a person may encounter other peoples negative opinions of them
- Fear that actions or words will be judged negatively by others
- Fear or anxiety is more significant than would be expected for the social situation
- Avoidance, fear, or anxiety lasts for at least six months and causes problems in the persons daily life
Your healthcare provider will rule out other possible causes before diagnosing you with a social anxiety disorder.
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Avoid The Usual Temptations
If you have a bad habit of wasting too much time on the internet or watching television instead of socializing, try cutting back or making it educational time in terms of learning about SAD and social skills. See how much time you gain to focus on overcoming your social anxiety and building your social skills.
What Are You Avoiding
The behavioral problem for people with social anxiety is the tendency to avoid anxiety-provoking situations. When a socially anxious individual anticipates going to a party, she becomes quite anxiousbut, then, decides not to go and the anxiety immediately decreases. This reduction of anxiety with the decision to avoid the party reinforces avoidance . This simple reward for avoidance maintains the fear of negative social evaluation even when the person does not experience humiliation. For example, if I feel anxious thinking about approaching someone and then I decide to avoid talking with them, my anxiety immediately drops. This immediate decrease in anxiety teaches me, In order to feel less anxious, avoid interacting with strangers.
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Treatment If The Condition Gets Worse
With social anxiety disorder, it is possible to progress from debilitating fear of one social situation to having anxiety about all social encounters . If this occurs, additional treatment is needed that usually includes adding medicines and increasing the amount of professional counselling you receive.
You may also feel more anxious when you start professional counselling. This is because you are thinking about the situations that cause you fear and anxiety. After the situations have been identified, the fears can be addressed through counsellingespecially cognitive-behavioural therapy which includes exposure therapygradually exposing you to your fear.
If you are taking medicines to treat social anxiety disorder, you will need regular checkups to monitor the medicines and their potential side effects. The medicines may cause bothersome side effects that may make your anxiety worse at first. These side effects may get better over time. But if they do not, you may need to take a different medicine.
If social anxiety disorder is left untreated or improperly treated, it can cause debilitating distress that interferes with daily activities. Physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, blushing, shortness of breath, and dizziness can occur and need to be assessed.
Social Anxiety In Children
Social anxiety can also affect children.
Signs of social anxiety in a child include:
- crying more than usual
- frequently complaining of feeling unwell – nausea, headaches, dizziness
- having frequent tantrums before a social event or activity
- avoiding interaction and eye contact with other children and adults
- fear of going to school or taking part in classroom activities or events
- not asking for help at school
- being very reliant on their parents or carer
Speak to your GP if you’re worried about your child. Your GP will ask you about your child’s problems and talk to them about how they feel.
Treatments for social anxiety in children are like those for teenagers and adults. The use of medication depends on the age of the child and the severity of their experience of social anxiety.
Therapy will depend on your child’s age and will often involve help from you. You may get training and self-help materials to use between sessions. It may also take place in a small group.
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE.
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Map Your Social Anxiety Triggers
As much as you may struggle with social anxiety, its important to remind yourself that youre not always socially anxious.
There are likely certain people in your life you do feel comfortable around. And there are probably plenty of non-social times throughout your day when youre not in the grips of social anxiety.
I say this for two reasons:
One of the reasons social anxiety can be so overwhelming is that it becomes an automatic process.
Heres an example:
Now, simply managing the triggers of your social anxiety isnt going to completely eliminate them.
But Ive found that its a very useful first step because it can seriously take the edge off your anxietyenough to be able to start implementing some of the strategies which target the core maintaining causes of your social anxiety directly.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Just because you occasionally get nervous in social situations doesnt mean you have social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Many people feel shy or self-conscious on occasion, yet it doesnt get in the way of their everyday functioning. Social anxiety disorder, on the other hand, does interfere with your normal routine and causes tremendous distress.
For example, its perfectly normal to get the jitters before giving a speech. But if you have social anxiety, you might worry for weeks ahead of time, call in sick to get out of it, or start shaking so bad during the speech that you can hardly speak.
Emotional signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder:
- Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations
- Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming social situation
- Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially people you dont know
- Fear that youll act in ways that will embarrass or humiliate yourself
- Fear that others will notice that youre nervous
Physical signs and symptoms:
- Avoiding social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life
- Staying quiet or hiding in the background in order to escape notice and embarrassment
- A need to always bring a buddy along with you wherever you go
- Drinking before social situations in order to soothe your nerves