Social anxiety: 6 ways to reduce your fears

SOCIAL ANXIETY: STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU OVERCOME FEARSsocial anxiety

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

  • sweating
  • blushing
  • heart palpitations
  • nausea
  • trembling

Some people with social phobia experience panic attacks.

 

 2. PRACTICE CALM BREATHING DAILY

An example is the following exercise.

  1. Place one hand on your abdomen right under your ribcage.
  2. 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.
  3. When you have taken a full breath pause and count to five.
  4. 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”.
  5. Take two breaths in your normal rhythm and then repeat the steps above.

 

 3. PROGRESSIVE MUSCULAR RELAXATION

See my blog post at

https://morrowcounselling.com/2015/09/19/relaxation-progressive-muscle-relaxation/

 

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:

social anxiety at a meeting

“I might say something stupid”. I will blush and other people will notice.

 

social anxiety speaking in front of people

“I might lose my train of thought and stop mid-sentence. Other people will notice that I am anxious.”

 

social anxiety at a party

“No-one will talk to me. People will think that I am boring. I won’t know what to say. No-one will like me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Phobias: desensitization through graded exposure.

6. PSYCHOTHERAPY

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:

http://psychcentral.com/lib/6-ways-to-overcome-social-anxiety/

IF YOU WOULD LIKE HELP WITH STRATEGIES TO REDUCE YOUR SOCIAL ANXIETY CALL VIVIENNE FOR A FREE 10 MINUTE CONSULTATION.
0478 783 506
9943 2400

 

Living with Anxiety? 10 tips for management

Living with Anxiety? 10 tips for management

Living with anxiety can be difficult.

Feeling anxious occasionally is a normal part of being human. You may feel anxious before taking an exam, when faced with a difficult work problem, while waiting for the results of medical investigations or when going through the process of making an important decision. However, if you have an anxiety disorder the worry or fear is not temporary; for you the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. Anxiety can interfere with your daily activities. There are a number of types of anxiety e.g. generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder. Read more:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

If you are someone living with anxiety there are a number of things you can do to help reduce your anxiety levels and thus improve your quality of life.

  1. Learn about what stress and anxiety are and how they affect your body.
Stress response system. Stress is a main cause of high levels of cortisol secretion. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal cortex.

Stress response system. Stress is a main cause of high levels of cortisol secretion. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal cortex.

 

 

If you are someone living with anxiety it can be helpful to learn about what anxiety is and how it affects your body. Talk to your doctor or a psychotherapist.

To learn about the symptoms of anxiety read:

https://morrowcounselling.com/2014/12/31/symptoms-of-anxiety/

Learning about anxiety is a very important first step since it helps you to understand what is happening when you are feeling uncomfortable. All the worries and physical feelings you are experiencing are due to anxiety.

Anxiety is normal and adaptive because it helps us prepare for danger (for instance, our heart beats faster to pump blood to our muscles so we have the energy to run away or fight off danger).

Therefore, the goal is to learn to manage anxiety, not eliminate it.

Living with anxiety can become a problem when our body tells us that there is danger when there is no real danger.

FLIGHT-FIGHT-FREEZE RESPONSES

living with anxiety

Our body’s fight-flight-freeze response can be activated when there is a real danger, such as coming across a black bear when hiking in the woods. You may take FLIGHT and run away from the bear. You may FREEZE and stay still until the bear passes. Or, you might FIGHT and yell and wave your arms to appear big and scary.

But these response can also happen when something simply feels dangerous, but really isn’t, such as being interviewed for a job. Anxious feelings can become so overwhelming  that  you want to avoid doing the interview. Many people stop doing things or going to places that make them feel anxious.

 

Watch the following youtube video produced by the organization beyondblue with Australian actor Noah Taylor.

 

 

 

  2. Reduce stress in your day-to-day living.

living with anxiety

living with anxiety

If you are living with  anxiety it is essential that you find ways to reduce your levels of day-to-day stress. This might include:

  • time management with your work or study
  • spending some time with nature e.g taking a walk on a bush track
  • listening to music that you find relaxing
  • spending some time on one of your hobbies e.g painting, playing a musical instrument
  • exercising regularly
  • learning some relaxation techniques

 

living with anxiety

living with anxiety

 

 

 

3. Give high priority to adequate sleep.

Sleep tips:

  • aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night
  • avoid foods and drinks containing caffeine during the evening
  • avoid eating close to bedtime
  • ensure that your bedroom is dark and quiet
  • establish a relaxing night routine
  • avoid watching TV or working on your computer before bedtime

 

living with anxiety

 

4. Exercise regularly and take opportunities to engage in physical activity.

living with anxiety

Nature has a calming effect on the mind

living with anxiety

Exercise can reduce anxiety and improve mood. It can reduce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The best physical activities are those that you enjoy doing and will continue doing.

 

5. Learn and practise relaxation skills such as the following:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)  can be helpful in reducing muscle tension and for achieving a state of relaxation. The technique involves systematically tensing up various muscles then releasing them releasing the tension suddenly. See

Relaxation: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Another technique that can be included in an anxiety management plan is visualizing yourself in a peaceful scene.  Visualization is best done after a muscular relaxation session. See

Anxiety Management: Visualization for relaxation

If you practise such skills on a daily basis you can lower your anxiety levels.

 

    6. Learn and practise mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness is about being in the moment. It is something you can learn to do on a regular basis.

Mindfulness

  • helps keep your mind from being lost in the past or future e.g catastrophizing
  • helps keep you more connected.
  • can be practised as a type of  meditation or as a quality of attention you bring into daily life e.g when you are walking
  • can reduce your stress levels
  • involves being rather than doing
  • awakens your senses

Mindfulness

Mindful awareness

If you practise mindfulness on a regular basis you can, with time, reduce your anxiety levels.

 

 7. Take time out to do things you enjoy e.g listening to music, walking your dog or catching up                     with a friend. Enjoy a good laugh; it reduces stress levels.

 

living with anxiety

catching up with friends

living with anxiety

attending a class for fun

living with anxiety

walking your dog

living with anxiety

playing music

 

 

 

 

 

living with anxiety

enjoy a good laugh

 

  8. Learn some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) skills so that you can challenge your negative                  thinking.

If you live with  anxiety you probably do a lot of negative thinking. CBT is not the be all and end all, but if learnt along with other skills it can be very helpful if you are a worrier, someone who tends to catastrophize.

CBT was pioneered by Aaron T. Beck. The aims are to modify your inaccurate or unhelpful negative ways of thinking and behaving and also to challenge your belief system (i.e. beliefs about yourself and your personal world). The outcomes are emotional and behavioural changes.To learn more see

http://www.beckinstitute.org/

  9. Include some positive affirmations in your “self-talk”.

An affirmation is positive self-talk. Studies of “neuroplasticity” are showing that thoughts can change the structure of the brain. Learn how to think more positively using affirmations.

living with anxiety

The following is an affirmation that can be used to increase your self-esteem:

  • “I am a unique and a very special person and worthy of respect from others”

 

    10. Talk with a professional counsellor/psychotherapist who will understand your struggles and your needs.

If you are living with disabling anxiety and would like help to manage it call me for a free 10 minute consultation:
Mob.     0478 783 506
Tel.         9943 2400

Suffering anxiety? Finding peace.

ANXIETY MANAGEMENT: VISUALIZATION AS A RELAXATION TECHNIQUEanxiety management

The kind of relaxation that makes a significant difference in anxiety management is the regular, daily practice of some form of deep relaxation.

If you are in a state of deep relaxation then your body’s physiological state is the opposite of what it is when you are stressed, very anxious or having a panic attack. For example, in deep relaxation your heart rate decreases,  there is a decrease in skeletal muscle tension and your breathing deepens.

Regular practice of deep relaxation for 20-30 minutes each day can lead to you feeling more relaxed, more of the time. Regularity and persistence are important. Deep relaxation can reduce generalized anxiety and the severity of panic attacks.

One technique that can be included in an anxiety management plan is visualizing yourself in a peaceful scene. The example used here is a seaside beach scene. Visualization is best done after a muscular relaxation session e.g “progressive muscular relaxation” or “passive muscular relaxation”.

Relaxation: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

anxiety management

Here is an example of being immersed in a peaceful scene:

You are walking alone along a beautiful beach. There is no-one else in sight. Ahead of you there is a long stretch of white sand and the sea is a beautiful turquoise. You are walking barefoot near the water’s edge and can feel the hard sand under your feet. You hear the sounds of seagulls and the sound of the waves as they break.  The sun feels warm on your skin as you breathe in the fresh salty air. You walk to the water’s edge and feel the temperature of the water with your fingers; it feels icy cold. A wave washes over your feet and the you feel the cold water splash onto your legs. Out to sea there is a white-sailed yacht and you watch it for a moment. You walk away from the water and onto soft sand. As you sit, the sand feels warm. You pick up some sand and let it run between your fingers. You lay down on the sand and close your eyes. With the sound of the waves breaking, the ebb and flow lulls you into a very calm state.

anxiety management

You can design your own visualization. Notice that the language used involves reference to the  senses: sight, hearing, touch and smell. You do not have to stay with what is realistic; your special place may be complete fantasy!

Another idea:

 

Forest Visualization Script:

http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/forest-visualization.html

anxiety management

 

If you would like to learn more about anxiety management CALL VIVIENNE NOW FOR A FREE 10 MINUTE CONSULTATION.
Mob. 0478 783 506
Tel.   9943 2400