6 Steps to Getting Over Social Anxiety
Social anxiety or social anxiety disorder is named as the third most common mental disorder in the world. It affects millions of people globally. Social anxiety can have far-reaching negative effects on those affected, especially their social life and professional work life. However, social anxiety should not limit your quality of life or serve as a life sentence. You can get over it and lead a normal life by following the following steps.
1. Understanding what social anxiety is and how it works
Social anxiety is the irrational fear of social situations and social interactions. People suffering from social anxiety dread being around other people, especially those they are not familiar with. They also dread being on the spotlight. When in social situations, they suffer anxiety, dread, fear, stress, low self-esteem, and other related mental conditions. Understanding this should be the first step to getting over social anxiety as it will enable you to expect what is to come when in social situations.
2. Understand that other people out there are socially anxious as well
As mentioned earlier, social anxiety is quite prevalent, both in the US and globally. The next step after understanding what the condition entails, therefore, is to also understand that you’re not the only one suffering from it. There are millions more out there going through the same. In fact, whenever you’re feeling anxious in a social situation, remember that there are other people in the same space with you feeling the same, perhaps the very same people you’re feeling anxious about.
3. Telling people about your social anxiety problem
As with any other situation or condition, getting over your social anxiety will require you to tell people about it. This is one important way to cope/manage and doing so has two huge benefits.
One, telling people about it will ease the burden on you. As they say ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Two, sharing your situation will enable the people around you to help you cope. For example, they can avoid putting you on the limelight or other actions that will make you feel more intimidated.
4. Don’t focus too much on how people perceive you in public
Another way to get over social anxiety is to avoid over-thinking and over analyzing how other people view you. For one, you’re not perfect and other people around you are not perfect either. Secondly, people around you are not judging you or scrutinizing you. They probably haven’t even noticed you. Thirdly, even when people are focusing on you, it probably isn’t as bad as you think it is inside your head.
5. Boost your self esteem and self image
People suffering from social anxiety often feel inadequate in some way. To counter this, try to boost your self-confidence and your self-image. Dress better, groom better, take a class on how to improve your speaking skills, motivate yourself through books, videos and lessons, make new friends, learn new skills, etc. All this will enable you to feel more confident around people.
6. Seek treatment
Last but not least, seek treatment. Social anxiety can be treated or contained via medication and therapy. Taking anti-depressants is said to help some people. Psychotherapy works even better as it allows people to explain their fears and have hem allayed by a professional therapist. Cognitive behavior therapy is said to work best. It can help change one’s social anxiety for good by altering how one perceives situations around them.
Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Cert. Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and Associates