When meeting new people, speaking in front of a group, or taking an important test, most people feel nervous or uncomfortable. This is completely normal and usually disappears once the situation has passed. However, for some people, anxiety is more than just a passing feeling; it is chronic and can significantly interfere with daily life. This is known as Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
People with SAD frequently experience intense fear and anxiety in social situations, even when there is no obvious cause for this. They may be overly concerned with being judged or evaluated by others, and as a result, they may avoid social activities entirely. SAD can have a significant impact on work, school, and personal relationships in severe cases.
Social anxiety disorder can be a crippling condition that affects every aspect of a person’s life. Intense fear, racing heart, sweating, and difficulty speaking are all symptoms. It is critical to establish a support network of family, friends, or professionals who can offer encouragement and understanding. It is also beneficial to engage in activities that push the individual’s comfort zone on a regular basis. This can help in gradually expanding the individual’s “comfort zone” and lowering overall anxiety. People with social anxiety can learn to cope with their condition and live fulfilling lives by taking these steps.
While there is no cure for SAD, many people find that therapy, medication, or a combination of the two can help them manage their symptoms and live a fulfilling life. If you believe you are suffering from SAD, seek help from a mental health professional.
Here are a number of things you can do on your own to help deal with social anxiety:
Challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts about yourself
If you’re constantly thinking negative things about yourself, it’s no wonder that you feel anxious in social situations! Try to catch yourself when you’re having these thoughts and reframe them in a more positive light.
Focus on the present moment
When you’re feeling anxious, it’s easy to get caught up in worrying about what could happen in the future or dwelling on past experiences. Instead, try to focus your attention on the here and now. Pay attention to your breathing and focus on the sensations you’re experiencing in your body.
Expose yourself to social situations gradually
If the thought of being in a social situation is overwhelming, start small. Maybe start by striking up a conversation with the cashier at the grocery store or saying hello to a neighbor. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually expose yourself to more challenging situations.
Engage in relaxing activities
Doing things that help you relax can be an effective way to reduce anxiety symptoms. Some people find that yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises help them feel calm and relaxed.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
Taking care of yourself physically can also help reduce social anxiety symptoms. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are all important for managing anxiety.
Box breathing is a powerful, yet simple, relaxation technique that aims to return breathing to its normal rhythm. It helps to clear the mind, relax the body, release stress, and improve focus. Inhale to the count of four, hold breath for four counts, exhale for four counts and hold the breath again for four counts. Do these for a couple of minutes as and when needed.
If you suffer from social anxiety, know that you are not alone. Many people have overcome this condition and are living happy, fulfilling lives. You, too, can do this with the right treatment and support.
(Dr. Chandni Tugnait is MD (Alternative Medicines), Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Business Coach, NLP Expert, Healer, Founder & Director – Gateway of Healing)