Social Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by an intense fear of social interaction, particularly when social situations involve being evaluated by others (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Although people with social anxiety typically describe it being triggered in various situations including school, in the work place, in intimate relationships and friendships, socially anxious thoughts can even be evoked even when you are alone.
People with social anxiety are often concerned about whether or not they will be liked. Many people with social anxiety fear that they will be negatively evaluate, judged, or labeled as weak, crazy, stupid, boring, intimidating, or dirty.
Social anxiety is the result of overestimating negative outcomes and evaluations in social situations.
Individuals suffering from SAD are at increased risk for substance abuse, medical illness, developmental delay, impaired relationships and dating, and poor educational or occupational achievement. Those with social anxiety are more likely to avoid leisure activities and become more susceptible to unhappiness or depression.
The following are a few self-help tips to manage social anxiety:
1. Challenge negative thoughts
Ask a friend or close family member (or your therapist) what they thought of the situation. You can also clarify your message with the person you’re speaking to. Say something like, "What I heard you say is.." or "I'm hearing you say...is this true?"
The take home of this tip is to confront negative thoughts and provide counter-evidence. Most times the individual’s fear or anxiety is not proportional to the actual degree of such negative evaluation.
2. Focus on your strengths
Focus on using self-positive self talk and identifying your strengths. Your self-talk should include monologues on why people would want to be friends with you, and make lists of what you are good at.
3. Practice relaxation techniques
Practice controlled, deep breathing and relaxation techniques. When you are feeling relaxed conversations will happen naturally. It’s okay to take a moment to catch your breathe before you speak. Taking a moment before you respond also allows you to better organize your thoughts and words.
If you or someone you love is suffering from social anxiety please visit www.TherapywithRaquel.com for more information. Raquel Buchanan practices marriage and family therapy in Upland and Palm Springs, Ca. Raquel is a marriage and family therapist intern MFTI #85262 at Norina Muphy & Associates and Caulfield Counseling & Education.
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Raquel Buchanan is a mental health profession in southern California who blogs about life and relationships. Raquel is on a mission to spread awareness about the impact of violence, abuse, and trauma.
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