Many people with problems like depression, and anxiety worry that they are odd in some way or in the minority, but it is said that one in three people suffers from depression and one in four has anxiety at any time in life.
And social anxiety is said to affect up to 40% of the general public! Social anxiety is when social encounters or situations cause you distress and worry.
So what are the signs of social anxiety?
If you have social anxiety, some of these situations may feel familiar to you:
A friend’s party
You have been invited to a friend’s birthday party but you don’t really know many people there, you have said that you will go but in the weeks and days leading up to the event you worry about it and you feel anxious about it. On the day itself you can’t go through with it and end up cancelling which upsets your friend but you would rather that than go through with the party.
A work event
Or maybe you have a work event coming up and you will need to socialise with people from work. Which feels so much harder than actually working with the same people! You create disaster scenarios in your mind of all the ways that you might embarrass yourself or make a mistake and on the day itself, you go along because you HAVE to really. But you find yourself being very quiet and leaving as soon as politely possible. When you get back to home or work you feel relived but annoyed with yourself for not showing the people you work with the best of yourself, but you just couldn’t relax at the time.
And let’s not even talk about dating! That carries a whole host of issues around worrying what you look like, where you will meet them, what you will say and maybe you are worried about eating and drinking in front of people.
And possibly the biggest scariest thing you have to face which will make you have social anxiety is public speaking. Just the thought of it throws some people into a spin. And once the day you are doing it is announced you can spend weeks sweating, worrying and working yourself into a frenzy. You might be physically sick before the event or have a mouth so dry it feels like you can’t speak at all. Your hands might feel like leaves in the wind and you might have tightness in the chest and short shallow breathing. What a nightmare!
The common themes
Most things that induce social anxiety will involve concerns about being judged by others, making yourself look silly, being self-conscious and feeling a lack of confidence. People with social anxiety disorder may worry about these and other things for weeks before they happen. Sometimes, they end up staying away from places or events where they think they might have to do something that will embarrass them.
What causes social anxiety disorder?
Social anxiety disorder sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some family members have it while others don’t. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. By learning more about fear and anxiety in the brain from a qualified professional, you will better understand why the issue occurs and then you can do something about changing it. Sometimes stress and environmental factors may play a role.
So what can you do to help yourself if you suffer from social anxiety?
There are some practical ways that you can help yourself:
- Believe in yourself
- Master your breathing. Breath slowly and calmly
- Have in mind in advance 2 or 3 interesting things to talk about. Maybe current affairs or a recent movie or something from TV. This gives you a way to connect with people without talking about yourself to begin with
- Don’t set yourself unrealistic goals such as having to talk to lots of people. Even if you attend and just speak to one or two people that is a success
- Attend for a short time. This means to have fulfilled your obligation, built your confidence for next time and showed your face
- Try and speak to someone early on. The longer you leave it the more uncomfortable you might get
- Take the focus off you by taking an interest in other people. Many people like to talk about themselves so you can let them shine
- If you are at an organised event, It’s perfectly fine to say ‘I don’t know anyone here, could you introduce me to..?’
- Most hosts will want to help because they want their event to be a success
- You could get to know people before you attend something via social media so you are not ‘going in cold’
Professional, supportive and confidential help is available for anxiety worldwide online with Zoom
You may benefit from some professional support like hypnotherapy to remove anxiety and gain confidence. This is what I help people with, week in and week out. I help people feel less anxious about, well, almost anything. With the anxiety out of the way, we then work on the confidence and life is very different.
So once you’ve lost your social anxiety, what do you have to gain?
- You will have a bigger network. The benefits of face to face networking are famous in business. It’s one of the best ways to build trust, create relationships, get advice and find out ‘the word on the street’. It’s a superb way to build your personal brand and credibility
- You will go to more places and have more experiences
- You will be more comfortable around strangers and as a result find it easier to make new friends
- You might do better at work by building better relationships and spending time socially with your colleagues
- You can support other people who are struggling
- You might meet the love of your life
- You will be far more confident
‘No one puts baby in the corner’
If you don’t know this line, it’s from a film called Dirty Dancing where Patrick Swayze wants ‘baby’ (his girlfriend) to show off her dancing. Once you lose your social anxiety who knows what you will be ready to show off?
Please get in touch for a free consultation if you want to see how I can help you come out of the corner.