Counsellor Sarah Barr has five tips to try so social anxiety doesn't get in the way of your summer.
Social anxiety can impact on people in different ways. Some people will find that all social situations are stressful, while others will only feel the fear when they have to do something in public.
Many people living with social anxiety will avoid or cancel last minute any situation that will trigger their anxiety. Such as public speaking, going out for the day/night, weddings, shopping in a busy shopping centre and so on.
Social anxiety can have a huge impact on a person’s life as they spend a lot of their time worrying about events coming up and thinking about how they can avoid them.
When in social situations, someone who has social anxiety can have these symptoms:
• Difficulty concentrating.
• Feeling on edge.
• Physical symptoms like headaches, butterflies in your stomach, blushing, sweaty hands, high blood pressure, dizziness, breathing heavily, feeling faint, heart palpitations and sweating.
If you’re struggling with social anxiety, you’re not alone.
It is an extremely common problem.
Here are five tips to help manage social anxiety:
1. Join a group of like-minded people.
Sometimes in a social situation you might feel afraid of meeting new people because you feel that you have nothing in common with them. So by joining a group or a class in something you are interested in, will help take away some of the fear.
2. Challenge your thinking.
The way we think about things can have an impact on how we feel and behave. Many of these thoughts are negative and untrue. It is important to remember that a thought is just a thought and not a fact.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can teach you further techniques on how to catch, challenge and change your negative thinking patterns.
3. Step outside your comfort zone
Living with social anxiety can make you want to avoid social situations. However by doing so you are further feeding your anxiety with fear. If you are going to change the way you act in social situations, then you need to confront your fears. This may feel uncomfortable at first but the more you practice it, the easier it will become.
Before entering a social situation, talk to a friend or loved one and explain how you’re feeling, have a plan in place, By creating a plan, you will feel more in control and less trapped. Therefore less energy is feeding into your anxiety.
4. Deep breathing
When you feel like you can’t catch your breath it can be very scary but it is also one of the most common symptoms of anxiety. Shallow breathing means that your lungs are not getting enough oxygen. This leads to you feeling short of breath and anxious. Find a deep breathing exercise to calm your anxiety, via youtube or a local yoga/relaxation class.
5. Understanding your anxiety
Some people find that reading about anxiety can really help them understand it. Alternatively it can be helpful to talk with a Counsellor or CBT therapist who will help you understand your thinking pattern and how to challenge and change it.
Don’t let social anxiety get in the way of your summer.
Take Care ~ Sarah.