Overcoming Social Anxiety

» Posted by on Sep 17, 2015 in Alpha Blog | 0 comments

Overcoming Social Anxiety

Most people enjoy social gatherings, finding the company of others a great comfort. For some though,the idea of being around a crowd of people terrifies them and causes them to go into a panic. Individuals who suffer from social anxiety generally have a strong physical and emotional reaction to  being in social situations, usually due to a fear of being judged or evaluated by others. Meeting new people especially can trigger nausea, increased heart beat, shortness of breath as well as an overall feeling of panic.

Unfortunately for those that suffer from social anxiety, they cannot simply avoid social interaction to avoid the horrible side effects of their issue. To be successful in today’s society you must be able to engage in both small talk as well as full conversations. The chances of having a successful career, relationship, or personal life without strong interaction skills is not very likely.

For example, someone with social anxiety may be in a meeting at work, and may be well-versed on a topic that is currently under discussion.  Their input could be beneficial to both themselves and their team, but their anxiety may hold them back and render them unable to say anything.  This could impede the individual in their work for obvious reasons.

The good news is, there are way to cope with and overcome social anxiety. It isn’t easy, but a person can train themselves to deal with their social anxiety and still handle being in overwhelming social situations. The following suggestions can help you on your journey to overcoming social anxiety.

Decide that you want to overcome your social anxiety and why you want to do it! Sharing your experiences when trying to achieve something is a great tool, especially when you are undertaking a big challenge. Share your commitment to overcome your social anxiety with a close friend, a therapist, or keep a journal. Make sure that you list the reasons why you want to make the change. Your reasons may be that you want to have more friends, be promoted in your career field, or simply be more confident. Whatever your reasons are, write them down or share them. When things get overwhelming you can reflect back on why you started in the first place, and you will find more willpower to stick to your commitment.

Take a cue from the people you admire! Everyone knows someone who is everyone’s favorite friend, always so charming, and the life of the party. Pay attention to how they handle themselves in different situations. Pay attention to their facial expressions, how they address people, and how they deal with different interactions. Of course you don’t want to be a clone of anyone, but learning a few  social skills from others is a great tool. The more you observe, the more you will notice small things that make a big difference, such as eye contact or facial expressions. Once you find things that you know you can work on, do it. You will feel uncomfortable, but actually practicing the things that make you uneasy is the only way to get comfortable doing them.

Don’t back out! Make sure that you attend functions and events as you agreed to. People with social anxiety have a tendency to say yes to invitations automatically, and then back out at the last minute because the idea of actually going is so overwhelming to them. So try to force yourself to really follow through when you have said you will be somewhere. Don’t allow yourself to just not show up because it is easier. If you have to, start small, but don’t continue the same patterns that you have displayed in the past. If you are having major concerns about an upcoming event, a therapist or a friend can be a good source of support.

Give yourself some credit! Reminding yourself of how great you really are can give you some reassurance that you can handle whatever stressful situation you are in. When you repeatedly tell yourself things in your head or aloud, you tend to start  believing them. So when you are feeling panicked about a social situation, try giving yourself some positive affirmations. If you start feeling overwhelmed, try telling yourself one of these affirmations repeatedly: “I am confident and successful”

“I love meeting new people”

“These people are my friends”

Although it may seem silly, the more positive reinforcement you give yourself (even if it may be exaggerated). the more comfortable and confident you will feel in a situation.

Consult a therapist! The great thing about having a therapist is that they can offer techniques, suggestions, and other resources tailored to your needs based on what you discuss with them. Having a personalized plan to tackle your social anxiety will jump-start your progress. Also having scheduled check ins and follow ups with keep you on track with your goal as well as offer a support system. They can also help you discover why you may have social anxiety in the first place. Uncovering why you are having those feelings can be a huge step to dealing with them with confidence.

If you are interested in speaking with one of our therapists at Alpha Counseling, please contact us today! We have a caring and trained staff member ready to assist you with your journey!

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