Tips for Facing Your Social Anxiety
Did you know that most people on Earth say that they have social anxiety symptoms? It’s right up there with public speaking as one of the biggest fears. Social fears are one of the most common issues that a lot of people face or claim to face.
It may be worse for some than for others, but social fear is a pretty universal issue. For most of us it started in our teenage years. We either learned to face it and live with it, or it manifested into something worse.
There are some ways in which you can learn the tricks and tips for facing social anxiety without having to drop out of society. Most of these tips are easy to accomplish. If you have issues that exceed these ideas, consider getting some professional help. You may have to overcome social fears and need mediation or stronger help to get yourself on the right path.
* Start Small – If you are ready to make a huge change in your life and face your social worries, don’t choose to start with speaking in front of 1500 people. Instead, start small with a small group like a “meet-up” group, or a reading group. Get a little bit out of your comfort zone, and then build up to more.
* Plan Ahead – Most people are nervous in social situations but if you plan ahead, you’ll be more relaxed. Practice introducing yourself, and if you have a good friend ask them to practice your handshake too. Being more comfortable around people starts one step at a time, and practice will help to overcome anxiety and make it feel more familiar.
* Love Yourself — Many social anxieties come from wrong-headed beliefs that something is wrong with you. You don’t think enough of yourself, and you think you’re weird or somehow “wrong.” But, nothing could be further from the truth. Most of us have something different about us; if we were all the same it would be quite boring. Embrace your differences and accept yourself for who you are.
Learn to Avoid Judgment of Yourself
Some measure of social disorder come from our own poor judgments of not just ourselves but others. We think that if we are so judgmental then other people are too. So, to avoid facing that judgment we just avoid the situation entirely. If you learn to stop being so judgmental, you’ll be able to be less afraid. Learn to accept other people’s differences and personalities as just being human. Being human is perfectly acceptable.
* Your Fears Aren’t Reality – Just because you’re afraid of something doesn’t mean it’s real. You may have all sorts of ideas in your head about how your voice sounds, how you look, and your perceived awkwardness. But, the truth is, most people are so tied up facing their own fears that they don’t even notice that you’re nervous. Fearing something doesn’t mean it will actually happen.
* Take a Deep Breath – When you feel the symptoms of social anxiety coming on, stop, and take a deep breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose, filling up your lungs completely, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. One or two slow breaths can help you overcome your initial fears fast.
* Take the Leap Anyway – Most of the time, fear is worse than the actual situation. Even if you’re doing something scary like getting a shot, or an operation or bungee jumping – the worry leading up to the event is much worse than the actuality of what you are doing. If you take the leap and jump in with both feet, you’ll find that overcome your fear and your anxiety level drops substantially.
Most social anxiety and fear is a normal reaction that people have. You’re not abnormal to have social worries. This is especially true if you’re unwilling to allow your fears to block you from having a happy and productive life.
How Negative Thoughts Fuel Social Anxiety
Many people suffer from social anxiety symptoms. This is the feeling of being out of control and nervous and even afraid of being in social situations. There are different levels of anxiety. Some people are so anxious that they cannot force themselves to get into a social situation in public without being medicated, and even then, they find it awkward and difficult to overcome. Some people even have panic attacks.
Several social anxiety situations can trigger negative thoughts that can swirl around and around your head, making you more and more anxious about the social situation that may be coming up. You might even completely talk yourself out of attending, which can then lead to worse problems and even eventually lead to agoraphobia where your fear of social situations becomes so pronounced you can’t even leave the house.
Negative Thought Triggers
Situations that can trigger anxiety symptoms and negative thoughts include:
How Negative Thoughts Turn into Social Anxiety
When they meet a new person in social situation they imagine messing up the person’s name, forgetting their own name, or having bad breath. They imagine saying something “wrong” and being the butt of a joke or subject to criticism due to being “wrong”. They feel anxious even getting an award, because people are looking at them and making them the center of attention. They start thinking that they did not deserve the award and that they are a fraud and shouldn’t go collect or accept the award after all.
Then it just goes downhill from there. They can’t stop spinning every possible scenario into a bad thing until their heart is beating out of their chest, they can’t breathe right and finally they have a full-fledged panic attack. Due to this, they end up bringing part of what they thought true, becoming the center of attention due to the anxiety attack and then being judged as weird or a drama queen.
As you can see, thoughts have a lot of power even though they’re just thoughts and not even reality. When you start to realize how pervasive negative thoughts can cause social anxiety, and make it worse, then you can also realize how turning your thoughts around to positive thoughts can help you overcome social anxiety.
Turning the Negatives into Positives
The minute you notice you are showing anxiety symptoms about any future event it’s time to get out of your own head and start facing it and do something different to overcome it. Practice deep breathing, and read some positive quotes. If your stress is because you’re not sure what to wear, find a good friend to help you pick something out. If you’re worried about bad breath, take some mints with you. If you are scared you will say someone’s name wrong, practice the names if you know who will be going.
There are always ways in which you can turn all negatives into positives but the most important thing is to realize that no one is perfect and due to that no one expects you to be perfect. Most people have some of the same worries that you do, they just don’t take it to the higher level.
Breathing Your Way to a Calmer Mind
If you suffer from social anxiety, nothing is worse than feeling that familiar throat-clenching and chest-grabbing lack of oxygen that threatens to make you hyperventilate, pass out or both. It’s really hard to get yourself back on track when you suffer from severe anxiety symptoms. You can ask your doctor for medication to help you, but you can also try some simple breathing techniques to help you deal better with being anxious.
* Realize What Social Anxiety Is – Everyone is born with a “fight or flight” response and severe anxiety is simply that natural response gone a little haywire. It is natural to feel anxious in most of the social situations that you probably feel that way in. But realize that even though your heart is beating rapidly, you’re not likely to actually die from anxiety.
* Stop and Stay – Instead of allowing the panic response to take over when you are feeling extreme anxiety, stop and stay facing it head on. If you allow yourself to escape, you’ll just train your body to keep up the overreaction response to normal stimuli. Instead, stop and overcome it by focusing on something that is likely to be in any room, such as a light fixture or a clock.
* Breathe in Deeply and Slowly – When your heart starts pounding and your breathing gets rapid, you tend to take in too much oxygen. The results of too much oxygen is rapid heartbeat, euphoric feelings and maybe even tingling hands and feet. Stop and close your mouth, breathe in very slowly from your nose filling your chest with air, and then very slowly letting the air out by blowing it in a controlled manner out your mouth.
* Try Holding Your Breath – If breathing slowly isn’t working, actually try holding your breath first to help stop the panic feelings almost immediately. By stopping too much oxygen from going to your brain, you can give your body a chance to overcome the effects and catch up so that you can practice the deep breathing method above.
Practice Makes Perfect
Most things in life do not come naturally, and neither does breathing like this. When you’re not in a social anxiety situation, try practicing deep breathing for about 10 minutes each day. Sit or stand in a comfortable manner with upper body erect to give your lungs a lot of room. Breathe in deeply and slowly, pulling air in all the way to the bottom of your lungs then let the air out very slowly.
* Practice Monitored Breathing - Do the above exercises and alternate between that and normal breathing. Most of us have got into the habit of very shallow breathing, which actually keeps us deprived of oxygen until we are having an anxiety attack, then we overdose. So when you do the normal breathing, think about it carefully. Ensure that you are breathing into your diaphragm. Think about how a baby looks when he is breathing. That’s the right way.
Breathing properly during times of stress can help you reduce and overcome your social anxiety levels many times over, but you need to practice doing it when you are not anxious to ensure that you can take control of the situation when you are under pressure. If your partner is with you, teach him or her to help you breathe by reminding you to stop, stay and breathe.