Social Anxiety: How To Deal With It?

IT IS NOT A SHAME TO HAVE ANXIETY

As someone who has been diagnosed with social anxiety this year, I chose to write a blog about this topic as it is a very common disorder. Whether you have been diagnosed with social anxiety or you struggle with social situations and overthink what people say/think about you, this blog is for you.

I know it is fucking hard, but it’s also fucking POSSIBLE!

NOTE: ALL of the information in this blog post is retreived from a workbook called ‘SHYNESS AND SOCIAL ANXEITY Moodjuice self-help guide” which was suggested by a mental health professional.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety (Please see the photo below as well)

  • Anxious/self-conscious in social situations
  • Difficulty participating in certain activities/situations even though you want to
  • Avoiding conversation when possible
  • Worrying what people think of you
  • Worrying you come across as not interesting
  • Fear of being the centre of attention
  • Fear of others realising your discomfort with attention

What Causes Social Anxiety?

In order to treat a health condition or simply be able to deal with a problem you’re experiencing, you have understand the causes and triggers of it. Here are some causes of social anxiety:

  • Behavioural: Past situations that took place, usually social situations can cause social anxiety. You don’t have to go back to that specific moment every time you experience anxiety because it has been ingrained into your subconscious mind. An example of this is an embarrassing/humiliating moment in public. This can cause fear of embarrassment or saying something that would make you feel ‘dumb.’ Not that it’s true of course, NO ONE IS DUMB.
  • Thinking Styles: People who hold negative beliefs about themselves or are generally self-conscious are the ones most likely to have thoughts such as “there is nothing good about me, I’ll probably look stupid when I dance in front of them.” or “I’m not good enough to give this presentation. I’m just awkward.”
  • Evolutionary Factors: “It is also possible that people develop social anxiety because of In reality it is likely that a combination of these factors play a role in the development of social anxiety. However, in some ways it is less important to know what causes social anxiety and more important to know what stops us overcoming it. What prevents us overcoming social anxiety? evolutionary factors. To understand this, it is worth considering that humans are generally a sociable species who tend to thrive in the company of others. Because of this, it makes sense that people prefer to avoid upsetting others and ultimately being rejected. It therefore seems plausible that socially anxious people are simply slightly over sensitive to being negatively evaluated due to the disadvantages this brings. This could explain why socially anxious people go out of their way not to offend others.”
  • Biological Reasons: Your genetic makeup can increase the chances of having similar social anxiety symptoms (similar to a family member).

Exercise To Understand Your Anxiety MORE:

Here is an example of the exercise:

Now, do this task please:

How Do I Deal With My Anxiety?

Now that you have a clearer idea as to how you’re truly feeling and the possible reason(s) why, you’ll be able to implement changes. However, we have to be realistic and understand that it is a daily task to overcome/reduce anxiety. It won’t heal overnight of course, but it is always better to have some control and manage your symptoms.

1- Challenging Unhelpful Thoughts: Before, during or after a social event we tend to have unhelpful thoughts like “I’ll stutter and I will have nothing to say,” “Everyone is staring at me because I am trembling and I look like shit,” “I sounded like a dumbass. Fuck me for being so stupid!” Now, in moments like these I want you to take a moment and be alone. Even if you have to go to the bathroom. I know this sounds cliche but we really do forget to BREATHE. Take a few slow deep breaths through your nose and breathe out from your mouth. Do it for 3-5 minutes or as long as you need to and then ask yourself if this thought is simply and assumption or is it just your negative self speaking? In order to do this and challenge these thoughts you have to be willing to face the fact that you can be WRONG about this. If it’s an assumption, then tell yourself to be realistic and not give a damn what they say or think for the rest of this ONE DAY. If it is your negative self speaking, give that voice a name like “shitbird” (Walking Dead gamers know what I’m talking about :P) after giving it a name, whenever you get these thoughts tell yourself “That’s just shitbird speaking cuz he/she is full of shit” and then ask yourself to CANCEL that thought and bring yourself back to reality. STOP predicting the future! You have no idea what will happen that day (in a good way) and making false predictions with the 2% possibility of it coming true is ILLOGICAL and UNHELPFUL. Remember that you can never TRULY know what others are thinking because you’re not a mind-reader. Now if you’re being bullied that’s something else and I encourage you to find help ASAP, if you can’t CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY.

2- STOP OVERGENERALISING: I know we all have a knack of generalisin situations based on a past experience. Then again, you need to track your thoughts and ask yourself if there is ACTUAL evidence that the past is repeating itself or is it that thought repeating itself? Part of tracking your thoughts is refusing to dwell on the event that already happened by occupying your mind with something else MORE productive than sitting down and thinking what went down that day or today.

3- Friend Pretend: Pretend to be ANOTHER person talking TO YOU (do this alone of course. You can talk to yourself out loud or in your head) and imagine if you the friend hears the REAL YOU expressing their current thoughts and anxiety, what would you tell them? What advice would you give? How can you explain that this thought is unhelpful and not evident or logical? Ask questions like “What would be another way to look at this situation and what will it take to achieve this?”

4- Reduce The Internal Focus: During social events, try to enjoy the moment and really take part in the event. Whether it’s joining the conversation or eating or taking photos. Now if you really can’t find anything to talk about and your anxiety kicks in, excuse yourself for a moment and go out or to the bathroom and do the breathing exercise. Anxiety is NORMAL – we all experience it differently at some point – it isn’t as visible as you imagine, someone else in this room could be experiencing the same anxiety and you never even noticed – you are NOT unusual, you’re just having a MOMENT. Life is built on a series of MOMENTS. Every moment since the day we were born is what our lives are built on, NOT A SPECIFIC MOMENT.

5- Courage: How many times have you avoided a feeling or a problem and it all came back at some point? Avoiding a situation is NEVER a solution becuse you’re just DELAYING the INEVITABLE. It’s only in putting yourself out there and facing the social situations that you avoid is when you can truly prove to yourself that you can COPE with it. Confront that anxiety and call yourself out. Seriously, If you have a lot on your mind then do the HIERARCHY exercise, which is writing down all situations that make you anxious, rank them and then put them in order. Work on each item on that list either from top to bottom or bottom to top. You have to start somewhere.

NOTE: PLEASE see a mental health professional if your anxiety is out of hand. IT IS NOT A SHAME and it is OKAY. FEELINGS are NORMAL. Not dealing with anxiety can lead to other health conditions mental and physical ones. Anxiety is associated A LOT with DEPRESSION. So please get help or find a helpline depending on where you live.

Workbook: file:///C:/Users/abc/Downloads/MOODJUICE%20-%20Shyness%20&%20Social%20Anxiety%20-%20Self-help%20Guide.pdf

UK HELPLINES (Copy pasting):

Samaritans
Samaritans provides confidential emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide. You don’t have to be suicidal to call us. We are here for you if you’re worried about something, feel upset or confused, or you just want to talk to someone. Phone: 116123 Web Site: http://www.samaritans.org

Anxiety UK
National charity established in 1970 to provide support and services to those suffering from all anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, panic attacks, social phobia, simple phobia, phobia and tranquiliser issues. Phone: 08444 775 774 Web Site: http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

Breathing Space
Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line you can call when you’re feeling down. You might be worried about something – money, work, relationships, exams – or maybe you’re just feeling fed up and can’t put your finger on why. Phone: 0800 83 85 87 Web Site: http://www.breathingspacescotland.co.uk

Living Life to the Full
Living Life to the Full is an online life skills course made up of several different modules designed to help develop key skills and tackle some of the problems we all face from time to time. Web Site: http://www.llttf.com/

2 Replies to “Social Anxiety: How To Deal With It?”

  1. I would like to comment and add something, although your content is thorough and I really like the way you write. So, yes, people like me do think over and over again about what people think and have our image in their mind about us. Yes, it does matter to us. I personally try to clear and justify whatever I think they got wrong about me in other person’s head. I don’t know if this is right or wrong but I wouldn’t want anyone to think wrong/bad about me. Is this also a part of anxiety? I feel very bad when this happens.

    1. I am not a psychologist or therapist and I don’t know your situation so I can’t really tell. Maybe go through the symptoms list and see if you have two or more of these symptoms. Anxiety is CRIPPLING. I think there is a difference between anxiety, being self conscious or both and the way you have been programmed due to culture. I come from a culture where people are all about ‘reputation’ and this idea has been told to us since a very young age. That you have to dress a certain way and not share certain things to preserve the family’s reputation, etc…

      Make sense?

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