by Kirsten Cole
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with
other people. This specific anxiety is often sparked by an intense fear of
being judged during social interactions. In some cases, mild symptoms of
social anxiety may arise when in specific situations, like giving a
presentation. However, in more extreme cases, social anxiety may impact
daily functioning and the ability to participate in any social setting.
Take a second….What are the specific situations that produce social anxiety for you? Is it going on a date, meeting a new person, going to the mall, making eye, contact with others, or giving a speech?
Go a step further…Now that we have identified where the source of the social anxiety comes from, let’s go further. What specifically worries you about these situations? Is there a fear of judgment, embarrassment, being rejected, not being liked or your physical appearance? When we can identify the ROOTS of our symptoms, we can start to heal from the bottom up.
Journal it out! How does my social anxiety impact my life? Does it affect my relationships with others? Does it prevent me from trying new things? Has it impacted my career?
Finally, if you woke up tomorrow and your life was exactly how you wanted it to be and the anxiety is gone…what would it look like? BE SPECIFIC!
The effects of underlying anxiety…
AVOIDING SOCIAL SITUATIONS
Social outings like parties, crowded restaurants, concerts, or any venue that
draws a crowd may spike anxiety levels in an individual. Anxiety often feels
like “too many tabs open” in our brain. When you are exposed to a social
situations, it feels like you’re adding 100 more tabs to the browser and that
feels overwhelming. Avoiding social situations may be your anxiety trying to protect you, but it also may be keeping you down. TIP: when in a social
situation, find a bathroom and start deep breathing. Deep breathing can
assist in calming your nervous system.
Being a homebody is often used as a “trait” to capture someone’s personality. However, it may be more telling of someone’s anxiety levels rather than their preference of staying home. Our homes are our safe spaces (most of the time) and the outside world is filled with fear of the unknown. Your anxiety may be keeping you confined in the walls of your home and has convinced you that you’re a homebody, but are you actually?
Do you have a friend that enjoys making spreadsheets for your vacation or
has a weekend scheduled with precise details of locations, prices, directions, etc. Are you that friend? Over planning is anxiety saying “I got this, don’t worry, nothing can go wrong with me here!” This also plays into the fear of the unknown. Anxiety tells us to control everything within our reach out of fear. When things become out of our control, anxiety spikes and there is discomfort. TIP: instead of picking out weekend activities, ask your friend/family member/significant other to plan it.
CAN YOU RELATE?
Did any of these scream “THATS ME!” It’s okay.
Having insight on how anxiety affects our lives is key.
This insight allows us to do something about it.
This Blog was written by Kirsten Cole of L & B Counseling. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or would need to talk to someone please reach out for help.