The fear of being judged negatively by others which leads to fear, depression, self- consciousness or embarrassment is what we call SOCIAL ANXIETY.
In simpler words, experiencing this means going through extreme anxiety while having social interactions. We may take this lightly but sometimes, we don’t realize how our shyness becomes social silence in no time.
Let’s look at simple signs that show social anxiety:
“I love this particular event but I won’t go because I think it’s going to be too awkward”
“This haircut is way too different and I don’t think anyone will like this.”
“I’d rather stay home and not take a chance.”
“I think they don’t like me.”
“The food looks delicious but I’m too afraid I’ll embarrass myself.”
“I won’t eat in front of them.”
“What if they make fun of me?”
“Oh no, I need to edit this status one more time.”
“I’m too scared to make eye contact.”
“They’ll eventually stop liking me so it’s not worth trying anyway”
“I can’t really go to the washroom in front of them, how embarrassing!”
And you’re going to keep overthinking about your day’s actions and words and wonder how others feel about it.
Social anxiety is an intense fear of being watched or judged by others. Sometimes you’ll even attend a social function, but you prefer being by yourself or somewhere in the background.
There are different ways you’ll experience social anxiety. You might get a little shaky on the inside, or you can’t feel your tummy or maybe it hurts. You have a rapid heartbeat, you feel dizzy or you just get cold. But the experience remains different for different people.
When you’re sure you know you are having social anxiety, whether just a bit or too severe, know how to deal with it:
Three essential exercises to calm anxiety: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anxiety-zen/201701/3-essential-exercises-calm-anxiety
This helps you make your mind calm and regular practice gets you the hang of it. So when a situation has made you terribly anxious, you know what to do. Other calming activities include: listening to music, organizing your home or closet, playing with a pet, reading a novel, some gardening, going for a walk or even trying an adult colouring book.
Meditation has significantly brought down the anxiety levels of many. It has impact on specific areas of the brain. It helps you be present and aware of your thoughts in a positive way.
Your anxiety levels are somewhat connected with how you treat yourself. A healthier lifestyle would include regular walks, good amount of sleep and a healthy diet.
Read my previous article on knowing how to eat right: https://wrytin.com/angelicacardoza/healthy-eating-know-how-to-eat-right-jx08tdq8
Start appreciating yourself for the positives that you see. You could possibly write them down in a book. It can be as simple as being good at planning and following schedules or being good at keeping stuff organized. If someone tells you something positive about you, ask yourself whether you feel the same and write that down too. Remind yourself that nobody can be perfect. We can only be the best versions of ourselves. We have different strengths and qualities that we can't compare.
Write down at least ten anxiety-provoking situations and know how severe your anxiety is, for each of the situations noted. Score them from 1 to 10, 1 being least severe and 10 being the most.
After making this chart, start from the least severe activity, for example asking a stranger for directions. Watch yourself grow by the time you face the activity that makes your anxiety extremely severe, for example speaking in public.
Obviously, this is going to take plenty of time and commitment. Know that the only way to overcome your fears is to face it.
Here's an example of an exposure hierarchy for a specific goal (starts from bottom):
Know when you need to talk to a therapist or someone who will definitely help you out.
And even if there’s nothing too severe, it’s never too early (or too late) to ask for help.