The complicated thing about anxiety is that it’s not something we wear on our sleeves. I can only speak for myself, but when anxiety kicks into my life, there are not too many visible signs. Of course, it can be if I am dealing with something horrible. Mostly, I just get quiet and sit pretty still when the anxiety kicks in.
I am also usually alone when it kicks in; it’s in my alone time when my thinking mind throws everything at me to worry about. There is a type of anxiety that occurs only when around others, known as social anxiety.
Social anxiety is ‘A chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety.’
Complex tasks for people afflicted with it include:
- Speaking with co-workers
- Going to school
- Going on dates
- Gatherings with friends
- Eating in public with others
- Needing to speak in front of any size group of people
You get the idea, and as I mentioned, anxiety is not something most people can tell we are going through unless we verbally tell them. This means that for those who have a hard time in social atmospheres, no one else has an idea unless you have opened up to them about it. It’s not an easy way to live.
The good news is that social anxiety is absolutely something that can be overcome and conquered if action is taken. Here are some suggestions.
Talk To A Therapist
I know this is the most obvious suggestion, but there’s a good reason. Like any other chronic mental health condition, it must be acknowledged that you will most likely never be able to remedy this issue yourself. Guidance from a professional or someone we trust and respect is invaluable for many reasons.
When it comes to social anxiety, going to a therapist presents an environment that is safe and encourages being open and honest. Before any progress can be made, it’s vital to let someone like a therapist know what your struggles are when in social settings and what your thought processes are. This gets the ball rolling, and a plan of attack can start.
Challenge Your Thinking
The human thinking mind is an instrument that, as long as we are awake, is coming up with thoughts constantly. If you bring some awareness and reflect on your thinking in the past hour, it’s truly fascinating how many thoughts we have daily. The number I have seen thrown around often is that people have 6,000 thoughts a day on average.
That’s a pretty high number.
As a result, we can go through life accepting our thoughts as fact or the truth. When your mind starts racing in social settings, please do your best to observe them and challenge them. Many times our thoughts are entirely false and delusional; if you start challenging your thinking, you will come to find that quickly. (When someone’s beliefs are sufficiently divergent from reality, a diagnosis of delusion disorder may be appropriate.)
Take Small Steps
Start to outline what situations and circumstances give you the worst anxiety. List as much as possible, and rank them in order of difficulty if you like. Take a look at the list and form small goals that can lead up to that day where you smash all of the tricky scenarios you have written down.
You can make a goal to give a co-worker or classmate a compliment, volunteer to participate in a class, or invite friends over to your place in which there is some comfort being in your own space.
This could also mean gradually introducing yourself to anxiety-inducing situations and going to places that gradually involve a larger crowd. Making small goals and achieving them is the best way to go about any mountains we need to climb. This mountain is no different.
Having a therapist is fantastic and truly beneficial, but relying on just that one or two sessions a week is not favorable. Ask yourself who in your life may know about your social anxiety or who you are comfortable talking about it with.
Having people aware of your situation and being there for moral support whenever needed will work wonders for an issue like this. Let them assist you in any way you see fit, and keep them plugged in on any progress or speed bumps.
Being in a public setting with a close friend or family member who knows about your condition can make things more comfortable and less intimidating.
Having social anxiety is not something you should beat yourself up about. If you opened up to a dozen people about it, I am willing to bet a couple of them could relate and share that anxiety on some level.
The only way to conquer anxiety is to walk through the fear; when you come out on the other end, it is an incredible feeling in which you come out stronger. The conquest starts when you reach out and ask for help.