Today I’m going to discuss what social anxiety is, whether you might suffer from it, and how to combat it.
As you know, I suffer from anxiety. I was also diagnosed with mild depression at the time due to the severity of my anxiety.
Thankfully, though, that has now gone. But I’m still left with these anxious feelings and quite often, it is socially-related.
I didn’t choose these feelings, and would gladly rid myself of them given half the chance.
Until this very year, I didn’t even know what social anxiety was. All I knew was that you could suffer from agoraphobia (the fear of having an anxiety attack).
I thought these were the same thing. How very wrong I was!
So today I thought I’d write an informative post about what social anxiety is and how you can try and combat it.
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations (WebMD).
The fear of social situations can start from the fear of embarrassment, the fear of making a mistake, or saying the wrong thing. It could also be all of the above.
These fears are normal in any social situations. But for those with social anxiety, it causes excessive anxiety.
It can also lead to panic attacks and the total avoidance of such situations.
How many times have you beaten yourself up for saying the wrong thing? I know I do this numerous times per day.
It’s not natural and it’s not healthy, but the thoughts still go through your mind.
I have to tell myself to stop being so stupid sometimes when such thoughts arise. But it’s much harder than that in action.
Now I’m not saying that you have it just because of experiencing these feelings. For those with social anxiety disorder, it can be paralysing.
It can lead to the fear of leaving the house. It can be very isolating.
You might be surprised to know what social anxiety discover is actually one of the most common anxiety disorders.
It can be commonly confused with just being shy. I say ‘just being shy’ like it’s nothing.
I want you to know what being shy isn’t something that is inevitable. Nor is social anxiety.
It took me many years to figure out that I suffered from anxiety. It took me until this year to discover that I actually show some signs of social anxiety too.
Do you have social anxiety?
I want to make a point right now, though. I want you to listen to this!
Researching issues and illnesses can make you feel worse. I don’t want you to read this post and become self-conscious and concerned that you might have social anxiety disorder.
Google is great, but not for those with anxiety! It will give you the worst diagnosis and could make you focus on it too much. I don’t want you going through that!
Also, I am in no way a doctor and if you are concerned about such a disorder I would recommend speaking to your doctor about it. They really do know best!
If you want to know a bit more, though, why not try taking this test here? It guides you through some simple questions to help you determine whether you have social anxiety disorder or not.
So what else might lead you to the possibility of suffering from social anxiety?
It could be that you absolutely dread speaking in front of people. It could be speaking to someone at the bus stop. Such situations could lead you to break out in sweats, clammy hands and shaking.
Other symptoms of social anxiety include dreading the following:
- Going to the shops
- Being around large groups of people
- Standing up and talking in front of people
- Speaking to strangers
- Being picked out to speak in front of class or group meetings
- Speaking on the phone
- Talking with authoritative people, for example, managers, supervisors, etc.
As I write this now, all of these make me anxious thinking about them. I know not everyone is cut out for social interactions such as these, and some are more confident than others.
I would definitely class myself as an introvert, but that doesn’t stop you from being able to manage the situations above.
However, such situations mentioned are becoming easier. A LOT easier.
You could be in the same position too, leading me very nicely onto the next section.
What can I do to fight it?
Overcoming your social anxiety is not impossible. It might feel like it right now if you suffer from it, but there are ways to combat it.
I first would like to you read this article by Moodjuice.
The article contains lots of useful information on social anxiety and how you may have developed it.
It also explains that you can break free from your social anxiety by analysing how you think. You might find it easier printing it off if you wish.
Our mind is a powerful thing. It controls how we react to certain situations and most of the time these thoughts are subconscious.
I’d like you to have a read of this article in the form of a PDF. It includes some really useful information on anxiety and social anxiety, as well as self-help strategies to overcome it.
The more you know about your anxiety as a whole, the more in control you will be.
The thing is, you may never ‘get over’ your anxiety of social situations, but you can implement tactics to improve your trail of thought and stress levels.
I urge you to read as much as you can about it to give you the necessary resources when you need it. Feel free to go to the bottom of the page to find some resources to help.
If you are feeling lonely, why not read my post on loneliness and how to combat it? I included some useful websites to visit if you suffer from social anxiety as it means you don’t have to speak to people in public.
There are lots of forums available, and you can get involved as much as you wish. There’s no pressure.
Are there any benefits to social anxiety?
I like to look at the positives to any situation and social anxiety is not excluded from this!
You see, social anxiety can be crippling. It can affect every aspect of your life. It can stop you from going for your dreams, and that is terrible.
Experiencing a certain about of anxiety can actually be positive. It is a natural response to certain situations and doesn’t affect your body negatively.
I wrote a post about why having anxiety actually makes you awesome here.
- As well as what I mentioned above – those with anxiety/social anxiety actually make great friends.
- Because of your caring and over worrying nature, you’ll be concerned about their well-being and will help as much as possible.
- You will be very diligent – and very good attention to detail. You will notice details that most of us wouldn’t see because you are alert all of the time.
- You might not feel like it but you make better decisions because of your anxiety. The whole process you go through when making decisions is stringent and thorough. Not everyone is like this!
Some useful resources for you
Here are some really useful websites that contain information and resources you might find interesting.
Self-Help Resources for Social Anxiety Disorder
Be confident! Howe to face talking to people positively
20 of the best resources for you, your well-being and mental health
A List of Resources About Social Anxiety Disorder
9 really great things to do if you feel lonely
5 great lessons you can learn from famous people and mental health
Social Anxiety Resources
Social Anxiety Association
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) worksheets for social anxiety disorder