Many people feel a little awkward in certain social events, especially when they will be in the spotlight. It’s normal to feel uneasy, shy, or nervous in such situations as meeting new people, job interviews, or even starting a new job. The feeling of awkwardness usually settles with time.
However, if the feeling of distress is stopping you from having fun and doing important things; if it is impacting your relationships, work, and quality of life; if it is debilitating — then you may have a mental condition called social anxiety.
One of the most common mental health disorders in the United States is social anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 40 million adults experience anxiety each year.
People dealing with social anxiety avoid social events, which should be a source of happiness. They often feel lonely as the anxiety takes control and impedes their everyday life. It can be daunting to live with it, but anxiety treatment is available.
- Don’t Hide Your Fears, Face Them Instead.
Instead of using avoidance as a mechanism to cope with anxiety, encouraging yourself to face your fears to promote personal growth. Addressing your social anxiety problems might seem counterintuitive initially, but making a conscious effort to be more social has proven to help people overcome this fear.
Avoid hiding behind digital devices. According to a study conducted in 2016, 182 adult smartphone users admitted that addiction to technology causes isolation and lowers self-esteem resulting in social anxiety disorder.
Start by attending small, supportive social events.
- Swap Negative Thoughts
When an upcoming event triggers anxiety, identify the worst-case scenario. Then, think of a time when you were at a similar event. Reframe your understanding of the stress and replace the worst-case scenario with a positive, reasonable outcome.
The understanding of anxiety alarms can also make you feel more at ease about them rather than anxious.
In a 2013 study conducted by Jeremy Jamieson, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, and his colleagues, researchers found that when a person understands the physiological responses to stressors, they are better able to cope with the stress and actually experience less stress.
- Switch To A Healthier Lifestyle
The mind and body are correlated. The way we treat our bodies impacts our mental health. Making minor changes in your lifestyle can boost your confidence and coping mechanisms. Make exercise and nutritious diet priorities in your life.
Do not turn to negative coping strategies, such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and excessive caffeine and energy drinks. These substances can trigger anxiety attacks.
- Talk To Your Confidant
Share your thoughts and feelings with a partner, a parent, a friend, or a therapist. “Talking it out” can alleviate the intensity of your social anxiety. Better yet, can talk over a cup of tea in a public spot, such as a coffee shop.
The power of a support system can go a long way in helping you to reframe your thoughts.
The Bottom Line
Living with social anxiety can be challenging, but anxiety treatments such as self-help strategies and private therapy can help you overcome this disorder.
Author Bio: Sunny Skousen is an experienced writer who has over 20 years of experience in ghostwriting, blogging, journalism, speech writing, and content marketing. She specializes in writing about Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Faith-Based Counseling, Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Grief/Loss and Trauma, Supervision and Consultation, and more!