What Is It Like To Live With Social Anxiety?
Social situations – whether it be parties with friends, family gatherings or work and academic events – cause you immense anxiety. You may find yourself plagued with fears that you’ll behave in an awkward or humiliating way, and that other people will think that you are stupid or weird.
You may feel so nervous when mixing with other people that you often can’t breathe or even attend to what’s happening around you. Anxious thoughts are constantly running through your head, not allowing you to take pleasure in life and the company of others, even those close to you.
You may be aware that your thoughts and feelings are irrational, but they feel completely out of your control, and you may blame yourself bitterly for not being able to get a grip on them. Because social situations feel so frightening, you may start to avoid them, leaving you feeling lonely and isolated, and unable to form and maintain meaningful relationships.
Social Anxiety Treatment
Challenging unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is an important part of social anxiety treatment, and our experienced therapists use CBT techniques and other interventions to help you build confidence in facing your fears.
Often the actual outcome and experience of your feared event is nothing like the fantasy that you may have created in your mind. It takes courage and support to experiment and test your fears in this way. Treatment may also include:
- Exploring the root cause of your social anxiety
- Learning skills to reduce your physical symptoms
- Understanding what triggers your anxiety
- Learning skills and techniques to challenge your thinking
- Developing management plans for social events
Balancing your diet and lifestyle can support your physiology, and thereby reduce the physiological aspects of anxiety, such as tension and panic. You may find sessions with our nutrition team helpful.
In more severe cases of social anxiety, medication may be helpful in calming your mind and body. Our psychiatrist can support you in finding medication that works for your level and frequency of social anxiety.
Self Help For Social Anxiety
You may not be ready to talk to us yet, so here are some self-help strategies that can help you with social anxiety:
- Talk with friends you feel comfortable with, start with hello, and slowly expand the topics you talk about
- Sign up to a small group activity that you like that doesn’t involve too much interacting, but lets you get comfortable being around other people
- When you feel comfortable in that setting, start initiating small conversations
- Acting lessons and drama therapy are very beneficial for social anxiety
- Practice mindfulness techniques regularly
- Avoid things that can exacerbate your anxiety, such as smoking, caffeine and alcohol.