How to beat your Social Anxiety
These days many of us feel overwhelmed by social situations so much so that it can interfere with our lives. It can stop us from doing the things that make us and our family happy. Many of my clients come to me looking for help with this kind of anxiety, they want to understand it and know how to get rid of it.
How do you know if you have social anxiety? Well it could be many different things but you may worry about meeting new people or having conversations on the phone, sometimes you may worry about eating in front of people. You may worry that you’ll blush or won’t be able to find the right words to say at the right time to someone, you’re concerned about appearing foolish.
You may even get physical symptoms like butterflies, or you may feel sick, sweat more than usual or have palpitations and for some of you this can turn into a panic attack which at the time can feel very scary.
If all this is sounding very familiar to you, let me immediately put your mind at rest, this is perfectly normal behaviour, our mind and body is only doing as its programmed to do, it’s helping you to survive. While no one enjoys feeling anxious, the experience of anxiety can be protective and lifesaving, understanding this is key to helping alleviate it.
Putting it in the very simplest of terms your mind is programmed to keep you alive and free from danger, so when you’re getting worried about starting a conversation with a stranger and you feel nervous and panicky it’s because your mind is telling you to ‘get ready’ this could threaten you.
How do I manage my anxiety?
Here are my 5 top tips for dealing with social anxiety
Don’t worry because nobody notices
Believe it or not it’s not as noticeable as you think, your body is reacting to your internal emotions. So while it may be a big thing for you, it won’t be to anyone else they’ll be too busy worrying about what’s going on in their own mind and body to notice yours.
Talk to someone
By talking about it to other people you’ll see that it’s not just you that feels this way, even the most confident people you know will suffer with some nerves and self-doubt. If you don’t want to share with friends or family, you could make an appointment to see a therapist, hypnotherapy has been shown to help people suffering with anxiety.
Build up your tolerance
There’s a lot to be said for facing your fears, things become less terrifying the more you face them. So by putting yourself voluntarily into a situation you know gives you anxiety, will lessen the dread you feel. Very often it is the lack of experience that gives you the nerves not the situation itself. The American psychologist Harriet Lerner tells of a client who when he told her of his fear of being rejected by a woman he wanted to ask out, she recommended he go out that day and get rejected 75 times by different women. She identified that it was his lack of experience of rejection that was making him fearful not the actual rejection itself. By the time this man head been rejected by approximately 30 women in the same day he rang up the one woman he wanted to go out for a coffee with and guess what she refused, but it didn’t bother him!
Focus on the present moment
Mindfulness can really help you overcome your anxiety, it teaches you to remain in the present moment and not worry about the ‘what if’s’. Whatever it is that is giving you anxiety if you are able to stay in the present moment you will find some calm. If it’s talking to strangers, try really listening to them instead of thinking about how you are coming across to them. If it’s eating in front of strangers that bothers you, then try some mindful eating, concentrating on what you’re doing rather than worrying about what you look like or whether you’ll spill soup down your shirt.
Look after yourself
This should come as second nature but very often it doesn’t as our busy lives get in the way and other priorities take over. It’s essential to take care of yourself both physically and mentally, this includes having a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Try to avoid too many stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs as these can all lead to anxiety like symptoms. Find some time to relax and try meditation, search YouTube for guided meditations or visualisations there are plenty to choose from. Increase your physical exercise, you don’t have to spend money, go out for a walk and get close to nature.