Some people feel more comfortable with social interactions than others. Some people are so fearful of social interactions that they avoid them as much as possible. According the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than 15 million people in the United States suffer from social anxiety. When you have social anxiety, asking for help is extremely difficult, so many people don’t get the help they need.
What is social anxiety?
Anxiety stems from a fear response. It’s your mind and body telling you that you’re in danger and it’s time to flee. For some people, social events and situations trigger the anxiety. Your body and mind tell you that social situations aren’t safe, and that they might even be dangerous. Therefore, even the thought of going to an event creates anxiety, and it makes you feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable. In order to avoid that discomfort, you avoid the event, and you might even rationalize that you didn’t really want to go anyway.
You can tell yourself 100 times that going to a party isn’t dangerous. You can yell at yourself for being overly cautious. You can list all of the logical reasons that you shouldn’t be feeling this way. Unfortunately, none of these strategies work very well, and you might end up feeling worse, because you’re still feeling extremely stressed about going out.
What does social anxiety feel like?
- If you were labeled as overly “shy” or an “introvert” when you were younger, you may actually have feared social interactions. Here are some signs of social anxiety:
- You always worry a lot about people judging you or that you’ll humiliate or embarrass yourself in public.
- Your worries keep you from going out or doing new things.
- You feel like your worries are excessive or overblown.
- You feel very anxious or experience panic attacks when anticipating new experiences.
- When you consider going to a social event, you experience physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, queasy stomach or diarrhea.
If this sounds like you, know that you are nor alone. You don’t have to continue to suffer. There is hope. You can learn to manage social anxiety.
Therapy can help ease social anxiety
Through therapy you can:
- Process and explore the life experiences that contributed to the development of your social anxiety.
- Identify the unconscious thoughts and feelings that can trigger your anxiety.
- Find relaxation strategies that calm your mind and body, making it possible to explore your fears and worries with curiosity, instead of just reacting to or avoiding things.
- Learn and practice mindfulness skills to help you better recognize how often your unconscious thoughts emerge and the ways they impact your behavior.
- Find the tools that work for you to help you learn how to manage your social anxiety in healthy ways.
If you worry that you might be experiencing social anxiety and you’d like help managing it to feel more at ease, please email or call 410-340-8469 for a free 15-minute consultation.