How to Overcome Social Anxiety
How to Overcome Social Anxiety
This was a big problem for me. It tended to come and go during the period I suffered from panic attacks and anxiety. I would find I had my good days and bad days.
I can assure you there are techniques that can help you overcome this, and can be done inconspicuously at work or in public situations. For example undertaking deep breathing, challenging your symptoms, doing maths problems in your head, chat with a co-worker, eating a apple, take a break, sing along to your favourite song, etc.
The key to changing your fearful perception of social situations can be found in my eBook. The main problem is that you fear the situations before you even enter them. This is often known as anticipation anxiety. True change lies in the fact that you can alter your perception of these situations- which I can assure you that you can.
Before hand I would certainly stack the cards in your favour by doing everything you can to make sure your mind and body is stable before you enter a situation where you might be anxious. You may be aware that what eat and drink has a marked impact on how your body functions. So what you need to do is eat healthy, nutritious food to stabilize your body. If you enter a social situation after a long day at work after skipping lunch you are asking for trouble. Similarly if you have 4 cups of strong coffee before hand, this could induce panic like symptoms.
Exercise can also help. After work I like to go down the gym, go for a jog or walk my dog. This has the benefit of producing the feel good chemicals and burning off the panic inducing chemicals which may have built up during the day. It also makes you feel hungry afterwards, which is great if you’re sitting down for a meal with friends.
If your not practising relaxation then your missing a valuable tool that can help you. We all have to deal with difficult customers and awkward situations. If you can stay calm and focus on the matter in hand it can make such a difference. Relaxation is not something you can just turn on when you need it. It requires practice when your really calm. The last thing before you go to bed at night is quite a good time. Once you mastered the technique of relaxation and controlling your breathing you can practice it for 5-10 mins every few hours. It's important that you ‘check in’ on your panic levels especially when they are at lower levels, because its easier to control at lower levels. The higher the levels your anxieties are, the more difficult it is to bring it under control, especially without people noticing! Without challenging anxiety it can sometimes reach panic levels which will be much harder to calm your self down and you are reinforcing your body’s flight or fight response.
Go in with the correct attitude. If you have a social engagement and you have already decided that you are not looking forward to it, then you are not likely to have a good time. Be positive and actively go to enjoy yourself. A good tool to have is when you sit and relax is to imagine the social situation. For example if somebody is leaving work and your going for after work drinks to say goodbye, image what you are going to say to that person. Think of how they have helped you at work and how grateful you are to have known them. If nothing else it will save you having to think of something on the spur of the moment.
First aid for social situations
If you’re experiencing the first sensations of a panic attack do not speak negatively to yourself. Those ‘what if’ questions like – What if a make a fool of myself, What if I collapse when I feel faint, etc are not helpful. Fully accept the feelings and stand your ground. Remind yourself they are completely harmless and its your mind playing tricks on you. If the feeling are really intense then take a break and go and splash water on your face in the toilet. If helpful jog on the spot in the toilet cubicle and wave you arms about. Its what your body wants to do – burn energy.
When you in a situation one of the key elements is to distract yourself.
- Count back from one hundred.
- Think about your favourite holiday and what you did. Image walking along the beach with the sand in-between your toes. Image the smell of the sea as you walk along the beach. The more vivid the distraction the better.
- Think of stroking your favourite pet. What does it look like?
- Humm your favourite song
- The ways you can distract yourself are endless...........
|‘Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.’ – Brian Adams|
It’s always best to gain confidence slowly by building up your self-esteem when you have to deal with low-level social situations. Once this is mastered build up to much more demanding things. Think about how these concepts apply to you and how you can apply them into your daily life. We are all unique and you may fine certain tools work best for you than others.
Some people often say that there anxious thoughts get worse rather than better when they try to challenge them. This is perfectly normal and the road to recovery is not a race. Some days will be good some will be bad. Remember your thoughts are habitual and its going to take time to change them. If you find today you are losing the battle just accept this and try and stay as calm and relaxed possible. The thoughts will not last forever. If you can write the anxious thoughts down and challenge them when you are more calm, this will help. Remember its you that has created these thoughts and you have the complete power to change them.
Persevere, and I promise you will see change. THE POWER IS WITHIN YOU TO RECLAIM YOUR LIFE BACK.
|“The fears that assault us are mostly simple anxieties about social skills, about intimacy, about likeableness, or about performance. We need not give emotional food or charge to these fears or become attached to them. We don’t even have to shame ourselves for having these fears. Simply ask your fears, “What are you trying to teach me?” Some say that FEAR is merely an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Richard Rohr|