Surround Yourself With Positive People
If at all possible, try to spend more time with positive people people who love you, believe in you, and see the beauty in who you are despite your social anxiety.
Spending time with these people will make you feel good and help you to weather any rough times as you try to make changes in your life.
Tip : Make An Effort To Be More Social
Actively seeking out supportive social environments is another effective way of challenging your fears and overcoming social anxiety. The following suggestions are good ways to start interacting with others in positive ways:
Take a social skills class or an assertiveness training class. These classes are often offered at local adult education centers or community colleges.
Volunteer doing something you enjoy, such as walking dogs in a shelter, or stuffing envelopes for a campaignanything that will give you an activity to focus on while you are also engaging with a small number of like-minded people.
Work on your communication skills. Good relationships depend on clear, emotionally-intelligent communication. If you find that you have trouble connecting to others, learning the basic skills of emotional intelligence can help.
How To Practice Deep Breathing
When in social situations, make sure that you are breathing the way that you practiced. In time, this way of breathing may become more automatic.
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Signs Of Social Anxiety
Many people feel shy, nervous, or uncomfortable in certain situations. This is especially common in young children. Your level of comfort in social situations depends on factors like personality and life experiences.
Social anxiety disorder is different in that it includes such high levels of fear, anxiety, and avoidance that it gets in the way of your everyday life. Usually, social anxiety starts when you reach your early to mid-teens, although it can show up in people of other ages as well.
There are various signs and symptoms of social anxiety, all of which fall into three categories: emotional and behavioral signs, physical signs, and social signs. Some of the signs overlap, and many of them may flare up when you’re experiencing added stress.
Emotional and Behavioral Signs
The following emotional and behavioral symptoms may show up in people with social anxiety:
For children, emotional and behavioral signs may include:
- Throwing temper tantrums
- Clinging to parents or guardians
- Refusing to speak to people
- Eating in front of people
- Walking into a room where people are already seated
- Using a public restroom
Prognosis Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is often successfully managed with treatment, depending on how severe your fears are. Antidepressant medicines can also be effective.
Social anxiety disorder symptoms can change over time for example, they may get worse if you’re dealing with a lot of stress or increased demands. In other cases, the symptoms of social anxiety disorder may fade over time.
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Write Down Your Thoughts
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.
Unhelpful Thinking Styles That Fuel Social Anxiety
Ask yourself if youre engaging in any of the following unhelpful thinking styles:
- Mind reading Assuming you know what other people are thinking, and that they see you in the same negative way that you see yourself.
- Fortune telling Predicting the future, usually while assuming the worst will happen. You just know that things will go horribly, so youre already anxious before youre even in the situation.
- Catastrophizing Blowing things out of proportion. For example, if people notice that youre nervous, it will be awful, terrible, or disastrous.
- Personalizing Assuming that people are focusing on you in a negative way or that whats going on with other people has to do with you.
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What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some family members have it while others dont. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. Some researchers think that misreading of others behavior may play a role in causing or worsening social anxiety. For example, you may think that people are staring or frowning at you when they truly are not. Underdeveloped social skills are another possible contributor to social anxiety. For example, if you have underdeveloped social skills, you may feel discouraged after talking with people and may worry about doing it in the future. By learning more about fear and anxiety in the brain, scientists may be able to create better treatments. Researchers are also looking for ways in which stress and environmental factors may play a role.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Social Anxiety Diagnosis
In order to be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, you must have been experiencing the symptoms outlined in the DSM-5 for at least 6 months or more. The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria also require ruling out other mental disorders such as panic disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, or autism spectrum disorder. It may therefore take multiple sessions with a mental health professional before they can confidently make a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Social Anxiety Disorder
There may be a genetic component to social anxiety disorder for some people. You’re more likely to develop the disorder if your biological parents or siblings have the condition. However, scientists still dont understand why some family members have the condition while others dont.
Research suggests that being raised by parents who engage in negative parental practices, such as being overprotective, overly anxious, or rejecting, may contribute to the development of social anxiety.
Some researchers think misreading other peoples behavior may play a role in causing social anxiety or making it worse. For example, if you think people are staring or frowning at you when they are not.
Underdeveloped social skills may also contribute to social anxiety disorder.
Researchers are also investigating the roles that stress and environmental factors may play in causing social anxiety disorder.
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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Get Yourself Out There
If you suffer from mild to moderate social anxiety, you might just feel like you are in a rut most of the time. What is the best way to get out of a rut? Do something.
Although it can be tempting to avoid social and performance situations if you suffer from social anxiety disorder , it is important to get yourself out there. That means accepting invitations to go places and do things that make you uncomfortable. At the same time, you need to prepare yourself to properly handle being out there.
Be Accountable To Someone
You may stay in your rut forever if nobody knows you are trying to move past your social anxiety and you are not accountable to anyone. Choose someone you trust , and tell them about your plans to make changes in your life.
This works very much like having an exercise partner the other person keeps you honest and keeps you from giving up when the road seems to hard and long.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder
When having to perform in front of or be around others, people with social anxiety disorder tend to:
- Blush, sweat, tremble, feel a rapid heart rate, or feel their mind going blank
- Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach
- Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice
- Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they dont already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could
- Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward
- Be very afraid that other people will judge them
- Stay away from places where there are other people
Explore Specific Situations That Trigger Anxiety
Social anxiety doesnt show up in the same way for everyone.
You might feel anxious about any situation where you worry about others judging you, from ordering food at a restaurant to leaving for the restroom during a class lecture. On the other hand, you could feel mostly fine simply being around others as long as they dont expect you to share your thoughts or speak up.
Pinpointing why and when you feel most anxious can help you take the first steps toward finding solutions to power through those feelings.
Tip: Start by listing situations that cause the most discomfort, the ones you feel utterly unable to face. These might include:
- interviewing for a new job
- meeting with a professor to ask for help
- introducing yourself to someone youre attracted to
Chances are, you spend a lot of time thinking about the potential negative outcomes of those social situations you just listed.
You might worry about:
- accidentally saying something rude or offensive
- tripping or spilling something on yourself
- laughing, sneezing, or coughing at the wrong time
- getting sick in front of other people
These things do happen on occasion, and they certainly can cause some short-term discomfort. It can feel frightening to imagine yourself in a similarly awkward situation, but try to keep things in perspective.
Understanding the spotlight effect the tendency to think others notice your mistakes more than they actually do can also go a long way toward easing feelings of social anxiety.
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Improve Your Sleep Nutrition And Exercise
Sleep, nutrition, and exercise form the basis of your physical and mental health, so these should be priority items you address when working to manage symptoms of social anxiety. While it might not seem relevant, getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and getting enough exercise all have a direct effect on your mood, energy, and stress levels.
Improving these aspects of your lifestyle can help you get a headstart on improving your health and also can make it easier to cope with stress and anxiety.
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Here are some simple ways to improve your sleep, nutrition, and exercise routine:
- Nourish your body with nutritious foods
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to keep your body well hydrated
- Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day
- Reduce your screen time and dont sit down for hours at a time
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night
Signs Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is common, but it can show up differently for each person. The signs of social anxiety can be more obvious in people who are naturally introverted, shy, or socially awkward. Keep in mind that introversion is not social anxiety. People who are naturally extraverted, good conversationalists, or who get a lot of practice using their social skills may have become better at hiding their social anxiety from other people but still report being significantly impacted by their symptoms.
Here are common examples of how the signs of social anxiety disorder can show up:
- Overthinking conversations
- Worry about worst-case scenarios
- Trying too hard to make people like you
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Tip : Learn To Control Your Breathing
Many changes happen in your body when you become anxious. One of the first changes is that you begin to breathe quickly. Overbreathing throws off the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your bodyleading to more physical symptoms of anxiety, such as dizziness, a feeling of suffocation, increased heart rate, and muscle tension.
Learning to slow your breathing down can help bring your physical symptoms of anxiety back under control. Practicing the following breathing exercise will help you stay calm:
- Sit comfortably with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for 4 seconds. The hand on your stomach should rise, while the hand on your chest should move very little.
- Hold the breath for 2 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for 6 seconds, pushing out at much air as you can. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
- Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on keeping a slow and steady breathing pattern of 4-in, 2-hold, and 6-out.