SOCIAL ANXIETY: STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU OVERCOME FEARS
People with social anxiety tend to fear and avoid social situations. They worry that they will do something embarrassing, or that others will judge them. Social anxiety involves fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social settings.
It is normal to feel anxious in social situations from time to time. For example, most people feel anxious when they have to speak in front of a large group. Social anxiety becomes a problem when it becomes quite distressing and starts getting in the way of your ability to function and enjoy life.
If you have social anxiety you may fear:
- talking to work colleagues
- going to parties
- speaking in a meeting
- participating in family get-togethers
- attending classes
- spilling food while eating in public
- being watched at work
- speaking to authority figures
- going on a date
Some people with social anxiety fear any social or group situation where they can be watched or evaluated.
There are strategies you can use to help manage your fears in social situations.
1. LEARN ABOUT SOCIAL ANXIETY
It would be helpful for you to have a better understanding of what social anxiety is.
If you have social anxiety you are likely to worry that that you will say or do something that will lead other people to judge you as being anxious, weak, stupid or “crazy”. Your level of concern is generally out of proportion with the situation.
If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation you may experience physical symptoms such as
- heart palpitations
Some people with social phobia experience panic attacks.
2. PRACTICE CALM BREATHING DAILY
An example is the following exercise.
- Place one hand on your abdomen right under your ribcage.
- Breathing from your abdomen inhale slowly and deeply through your nose into the “bottom” of your lungs.Count slowly to five as you inhale. Your hand should rise.
- When you have taken a full breath pause and count to five.
- Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth as you count to five. Exhale fully. As you exhale allow your whole body to let go all of your tension. Perhaps say to yourself “Let go”.
- Take two breaths in your normal rhythm and then repeat the steps above.
3. PROGRESSIVE MUSCULAR RELAXATION
See my blog post at
4. COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT)
Through using CBT techniques with the help of a counsellor you can learn how to think less negatively and more realistically.
Examples of negative thoughts:
People with social anxiety often hold some unrealistic beliefs. Common examples include:
- I need to be perfect to be liked
- I should never make mistakes
- It is important for everyone to like me
- It’s not okay to be anxious
However, no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Not everyone will like you; that’s normal.
A counsellor can help you evaluate your negative thinking.You may come to realize that some of the things you fear are very unlikely to actually happen, or that if something does happen it’s not as bad as
you may think and that you can cope.
5. EXPOSURE THERAPY
With the help of a counsellor you can make a list of the situations that cause you anxiety, in order of severity. You then perform the “easiest” behaviour i.e expose yourself to the anxiety-provoking situation. Gradually you move up the list. SEE my POST BELOW.
People with social anxiety often have other anxiety issues too. If you suffer social anxiety a course of psychotherapy can be very helpful in looking at your struggles and challenges more broadly.
For more on social anxiety see:
IF YOU WOULD LIKE HELP WITH STRATEGIES TO REDUCE YOUR SOCIAL ANXIETY CALL VIVIENNE FOR A FREE 10 MINUTE CONSULTATION.
0478 783 506