Dealing with social anxiety is never easy – you feel as if you’re in a spotlight all the time. What makes it worse is most people don’t understand, and thus cannot offer help.
Being nervous is normal, but dealing with social anxiety is not. Everyone gets scared from time to time, especially giving speeches or conducting performances in front of a crowd. These things give you normal jitters, alleviated by learning to weather the nervousness.
Social anxiety truths
Social anxiety disorder is a whole different thing entirely. It’s not just about speaking in front of a crowd, it’s much worse than that. Social anxiety disrupts your life and makes daily routines much harder than they should be.
The thought of being around others, namely strangers, makes you embarrassed. You will go to great lengths to avoid situations that seem intense. There are also triggers which make many normal engagements seen tremendous and terrible. When dealing with social anxiety from the outside, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s real.
Symptoms of social anxiety
The symptoms of social phobia are varied, from worry to self-consciousness. I have social anxiety and for me, just making it through a day is tough. Everywhere I go, I believe that people are seeing all my scars, bruises, and imperfections. And there are more symptoms like these.
One of the most common symptoms of social anxiety is dread. When there is an upcoming show or project, dread will make you worry every day until the engagement. You will contemplate and even repetitively rehearse what you might say during that day.
Now, this may seem normal, but when you add intense sweats, shakes, and insomnia, this dread becomes a serious problem. It sounds rather unnerving, doesn’t it?
Fear is amplified in those who suffer from social anxiety disorder. Instead of being scared of normal things, you will be afraid of all sorts of scenarios, most of which do not even exist. Everything that can happen, in your mind, will most definitely happen when the time comes to be in that large crowd or standing in front of people.
Social anxiety breeds worry, and I don’t mean a quiet reserved concern either. This worry will be pronounced and based upon heightened negative thought. Your inner ruminations will multiple, so badly that you will shut out dates hoping they will pass you by. Secretly, you hope for cancellations. Does this sound familiar?
Anxiety will immediately make your heart race when triggers occur. I have experienced this on numerous occasions during my life. As far back as I can remember, I shied away from others and experienced panic when forced to socialize. This panic, as an adult, displayed itself by increased heart rate and tightening of my chest.
Butterflies in your stomach are not glorious, in case you didn’t know. Dealing with social anxiety has a certain way of causing sick stomach or nervous stomach. Just the thought of being around other people can literally make us sick!
When we think about meeting new friends, or when we think about attending a party, if we ever agree upon going, we get a hefty bout of nausea.
Social anxiety can cause dizziness, just by waiting on social engagements. If you plan to give a presentation, heaven forbid, you will be lucky if you don’t pass out. These feelings arise because you realize you have no control over your circumstances and all you want to do is run away.
Social anxiety doesn’t have to win. I know it’s hard to deal with most of the time, but you have to try. The world is full of people and situations, and you just can’t get out of each and every appointment, engagement or class. You have to find a way to combat social anxiety because if you don’t, it will get worse over time. There are a few tricks too!
Question your mentality, then change it!
There are inner voices telling you to stay away from people. These voices also tell you that these people are bad, and all they want to do is hurt you. The first thing you should practice is challenging these voices, these inner workings of your mind.
Ask yourself if people are that bad when some of them have been nice to you before. With every negative thought, counter with a positive one, until you start to alter your mindset. This will take some time.
Try to control overthinking
There are a couple styles of overthinking that sufferers of social anxiety use. In order to change things for the better, you have to know if you are using these styles of thought.
- Mind-reading – Thinking you know what others are thinking, that they don’t like you or think you’re ugly.
- Personalization – Thinking that everyone is talking about you when they’re probably not.
- Knowing the future – Thinking you know 100% certain that bad things will happen.
- Blowing things out of proportion – Making things much worse than they are or assuming they will be.
When you catch yourself doing this, you will be better equipped to stop the patterns.
Control your breathing
There’s a reason why meditation works, well, several reasons, to be honest. For one, it helps those with social anxiety. Breathing techniques present in meditation, can help calm and comfort those who suffer from this problem.
These exercises help us to focus on what’s important and not our fears. In this way, we are able to focus on others instead of ourselves as well.
Confront your fears
One of the hardest things you can do is confront those things that bother you the most. However, by confronting fears, you make them less significant. It might take some time, but after practicing this for a while, you might be able to downgrade those fears.
Learning more about social anxiety
If you are dealing with social anxiety or have a loved one who suffers from this disorder, it’s best to educate yourself as much as possible. Understanding is a great way to help someone get better.
You can be a support system for your loved ones, providing a safe place when things are difficult. Most of all, never be judgemental and always provide love.
You are not alone in dealing with social anxiety and you can get better! Good luck!