I think it is fair to say that everyone has felt at least a little bit awkward in a social situation. For those with social anxiety disorder, this feeling of awkwardness is present in most social situations and only tends to get worse the more we avoid being in these situations.
It can be a miserable existence having social anxiety disorder. It is harder to make and maintain friendships, find love, and also to further your career. Because social situations become so anxiety triggering, we tend to avoid them altogether. This just leads to more loneliness and depression. Fortunately, there is help available and a few different strategies you can try to deal with social anxiety.
Read on to the end of this post to learn more about social anxiety, how to deal with social anxiety and the one strategy I used to virtually eliminate my social anxiety.
What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder is more than just being nervous or shy in a public setting. It is a real fear of social situations. The fear is usually related to being judged negatively or harshly by others, or a fear of a confrontation. Often this fear is so intense that it leads to having a panic attack before the social situation even happens. A lot of what goes on in our minds happens before the situation that we are feeling fear or worry about.
In a way, this is a good thing because we don’t have to change the social situations or avoid them. We just have to change the fear and worry we have beforehand and manage the way we think about it. I’ll share more about how to do that later in this post.
What Causes Social Anxiety
The actual cause is based around fear. For some people, it is a fear of all social situations that triggers their anxiety. For others, it is more specific social situations that triggers them. Some of the common triggers can include:
Public speaking (a very common fear or phobia)
Meeting new people
Being the centre of attention
Being watched or focused on
Eating or drinking in public
Performing on stage in front of an audience
Making small talk and not knowing what to say
Going on a date (although we all get a little nervous beforehand)
Speaking up during a work meeting or conference
Making phone calls
Attending a party or a function
What Are The Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder can manifest in different ways for different people. Sometimes there are emotional symptoms and sometimes physical symptoms. Usually for those with social anxiety disorder, they will experience both emotional and physical symptoms at the same time. The emotional symptoms can include:
Intense fear or worry for weeks leading up to a social situation
Extreme fear of being judged by others
Fear that you will humiliate yourself in front of others
Fear that others will notice your anxiety
And the physical symptoms of social anxiety can include the following:
Shaking or trembling
Tightness in chest and throat
Feeling dizzy or even faint
How To Deal With Social Anxiety
As I mentioned earlier in this post, the best way to deal with social anxiety disorder is not by changing or avoiding situations, but by challenging the way you think about them. If you can think about them in a different way, they will be far less likely to trigger anxiety.
One of the best ways to challenge your unhelpful thinking that leads to social anxiety is by using cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT as it is more commonly known. CBT is a tried and proven method for reshaping the way you think and the way you process those thoughts.
Many people have successfully used CBT to overcome social phobias and all other phobias, including myself. One course that has an excellent section on CBT (very detailed step by step) is called Destroy Depression. Click here to check it out.
Another great method similar to CBT is acceptance commitment therapy, or ACT for short. ACT is another strategy I have successfully used to help me, and it is especially powerful when combined with CBT. ACT won’t necessarily get rid of the symptoms and fears you have, but it will allow you to process them in a different way where you are comfortable sitting with the discomfort and you allow it space to come and go without it taking over you completely.
The best resource I have used for ACT is a book by Dr. Russ Harris called The Happiness Trap. He has written several books on the topic and is one of the worlds leading experts on ACT. Another great strategy is to actually face your fears and put yourself in those social situations. The more you can expose yourself to those triggering events, the easier you will find it is to deal with them and the more comfortable you will be. This won’t be easy at first and will require a certain level of determination, but the results will be worth it in the end. Once you have been in the situation several times, and have made the choice to push yourself to be there, you will then find it much easier in the future and your fear of those situations will reduce over time. Once you can achieve this, you will find yourself pushing to get out more and be more social as it will no longer trigger you as much.
How To Deal With Social Anxiety In The Moment
As previously mentioned, a lot of our fears and worries actually happen before the social event. But what do we do if we are in the middle of a situation and our social anxiety takes a hold? Here are some strategies you can try.
Focus on others. By focusing on others more intently, you will take away some of the focus that you are putting on yourself. This focus on yourself is partly responsible for driving your fears and worries, so if you can distract your mind from it by focusing on the other person you may be able to get through it easier.
Tell someone that you are feeling overly anxious. We have all experienced anxiety to some degree, so being open and telling someone will likely get an empathetic response from them. If they are treating you with empathy and kindness, it is more likely to calm your anxiety than make it worse. It will also give you something to talk about that you are very familiar with!
Breathing. You can control the speed that your body and mind are moving at if you can control your breathing. By breathing deeply, slowly and consistently you may be able to calm yourself to a point where you regain control and get on top of your anxiety. This post has more tips for how to calm anxiety, including some great breathing techniques.
Don’t fight it. Sometimes we spend so much time and energy trying not to feel a certain way when it would be easier not to fight and just go through the discomfort of what we are worried about. By allowing all of your anxious thoughts and feelings to come and go as they please, you may find it a lot easier to exist with these feelings present. This is similar to what is taught in ACT, where instead of fighting the uncomfortable feelings you make room for them to exist, but you don’t let them take over you.
How I Successfully Beat Anxiety
I lived with terrible anxiety and depression for over 10 years. My strategy was to avoid social situations and then I would no longer have to fear them or get anxious. My other strategy was to medicate myself so I wouldn’t have to actually deal with the problem. Obviously, neither of these strategies were particularly useful for me long term.
I came across a product called Panic Away and was taken by their sales page and intrigued at how they could possibly claim that their course could eliminate anxiety. After all, I’d been dealing with it for over 10 years and was yet to get it under control, so I don’t know how their course could possibly offer anything to fix me.
Because the course came with a 60 day money back guarantee, I decided to give it a try. I was fully expecting that I would claim a refund as I held little hope that I would get anything useful out of the course.
Wow, was I wrong!
These guys really understand anxiety and what makes it tick. They understand even more how to get on top of it and how to prevent it from taking over your life. The strategies are laid out step by step and the results come fast. After I read the course for the first time, I actually wanted to put myself in an anxiety triggering situation, just so I could laugh in the face of anxiety!
There is a reason I now promote this course on my website and that is because I tried it and it worked. I don’t want to be promoting any old rubbish, I want to promote things that I know will help people. I hope that it helps you as much as it helped me. I am confident that it will. Click below to learn more.
Please note – the product links on this page are affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission if you make a purchase through that link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps me to keep the website running.