beat social anxiety image

Just in case you didn’t get the chance to pop in last week, this article carries on from last week’s one.

So, with that out of the way…. Everyone has there own tricks for beating their Social Anxiety. And why wouldn’t they?

What will work for one person, might not be as effective for someone else. But, there are some things that have benefit for just about everyone.

1. Don’t Stay Silent:

I know it’s difficult to talk about your social anxiety with anyone, it probably makes you feel weak and useless. But keeping it to yourself doesn’t make it any better. By avoiding it, you’re just convincing yourself that having social anxiety is a weakness… It’s NOT!

Almost 1 of every 3 people has a mental health issue of some type or another. By talking about it, you can relieve some of the stress you associate with it.

from ‘The Handbook of Emotion Regulation‘.

…experimental studies have shown that suppression leads to decreased positive, but not negative emotion experience, (Gross, 1998a; Gross & Levenson, 1993, 1997; Stepper & Strack, 1993; Strack, Martin, & Stepper, 1988) increased sympathetic nervous system responses, (Demaree et al., 2006; Gross, 1998a; Gross & Levenson, 1993, 1997; Harris, 2001; Richards & Gross, 2000) and greater activation in emotion-generative brain regions such as the amygdala. (Goldin, McRae, Ramel, & Gross, 2008)

2. Give it a Name:

I know it sounds stupid, but when your anxiety shows itself, identify it. Maybe giving it an ‘actual‘ name is a bit extreme, but when you begin to feel anxious, remind yourself that it’s only a feeling. Something like, “Oh, here we go, the anxiety is starting up again!”

When you treat the anxiety as a symptom, rather than thinking “I am anxious”, it loses it’s power.

If you want to get ‘science-y’, then by reminding yourself that the anxiety is only a feeling, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex is activated and there’s reduced emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions, reduces their impact.

3. Ask Some Questions:

It’s helpful to have a few questions you can ask yourself, when you feel the anxiety coming on. eg;

  • Is there any reason to believe something is going to go wrong?
  • What evidence is there, that something is going to go wrong?
  • Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?

By asking these types of question, it helps to rationaize the situation. And, you could use tip 4 as well.

4. Imagine the Worst:

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Yeah, I know it’s scary to imagine the worst scenario, but people are more bothered by thoughts of what may happen, rather than what does happen. So, imagine the worst thing that could happen.

If you’re honest with yourself, you’re probably going to find that the worst thing isn’t so bad after all.

Think about it. You’re going to forced away from civilization for making a mistake, or banned from further social events because you messed up your speech. In fact, whatever faux pas you make will most likely be forgotten in ten minutes anyway!

Once you’ve imagined the worst that can happen, chances are, actuality isn’t going to be anywhere near as bad, is it?

5. Commit:

One of the biggest issues a person with social anxiety has, is recanting on their promises. That’s because avoidance holds the greatest relief for us. The simplest way to prevent anxiety is to avoid the situation.

Unfortunately, by avoiding the situation, we’re simply empowering the anxiety (see point 1 above 🙂 ).

So, the tip here is start small. Only take on challenges you know you’re going to do. It’s no good agreeing to give a talk at work, if the thought of talking on the phone makes you tremble. Maybe a better task would be to call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while?

Having a success makes it more likely you’ll be successful at the next thing you try, just as a failure will help ensure the next thing fails as well. Give yourself a fighting chance and choose well.

Small successes lead to huge final results.

Now it’s up to you! Have a think about how you handle your anxiety and then try adding a few of these ideas. And when you feel up to it, let me know how you got on.

Be Your Best,

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