Recognizing and Managing Social Anxiety

Recognizing and Managing Social Anxiety

How often do you try to avoid situations that require being around people? Does it feel like you’re constantly being watched and criticized? While we all have days where we just don’t want to be around people, social anxiety goes beyond that. It’s not just shyness or introversion, but a persistent fear of social situations that interferes with the way we show up in daily life.

Social anxiety that has turned severe can lead to other health problems, like depression and substance abuse. If you’re struggling to deal with your anxiety, getting support can help you learn life-long coping skills. You don’t need to be a victim to anxiety forever. If you’re a Texas local, our team of compassionate therapists in Flower Mound and Southlake want to help you get the treatment you deserve.

 

Common Signs of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can show up for people in specific situations, or it can be a persistent fear of any social situation. Either way, it’s an uncomfortable experience that affects us mentally and physically.

Intrusive Thoughts

The symptoms of social anxiety can start long before we’re even in a social situation. Your mind will work tirelessly to consider everything that might happen during an event in order to be prepared for them. This is often referred to as anticipatory anxiety. It involves being overcome with negative thoughts and judgements about what could happen in a social situation.

Self-Criticism

The fear of judgement in social anxiety is often extreme and any hint of criticism from another person can have a negative effect on our mood. Since social anxiety is rooted in the fear of being judged by others, it’s common to feel shame after social situations and become self-critical afterwards. This also means spending a lot of time replaying social interactions in your head.

Avoiding Social Events

You might be very good at finding every excuse in the book to avoid doing something that will flare up anxiety. Social anxiety can cause us to miss out on a lot of important events and situations that could provide positive opportunities for us. While this might save us from uncomfortable feelings in the short term, avoidant behavior inadvertantently prevents us from working through our core fears and reinforces symptoms of anxiety.

Nervous Fidgeting

Even though social anxiety is mental, it will show up in physical ways, too. Often the thoughts running through our mind when we’re anxious are uncomfortable to the point of fidgeting to deal with the discomfort. Below are just a few nervous habits someone with social anxiety may use as a way of coping with the discomfort of socializing.

 

Managing Social Anxiety

Social anxiety doesn’t have to control your life, and it’s very treatable. Even though the impacts can be subtle, it’s still important to address it. Depending on the severity of your anxiety, it takes time and effort to find what solutions work for you. Getting therapy for anxiety is always most recommended if it is taking precedent over your life. However, there are ways to make social anxiety more manageable.

Create Awareness

It’s not uncommon to brush off our anxiety and minimize it. You might say things like “I’m just introverted” or “people are exhausting”. Thoughts like these can end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, and do nothing to help us. Get curious about your anxiety. When you start to feel uncomfortable, as yourself why you’re feeling that way. Read more about anxiety so you can understand it better.

Laugh At Yourself

Laughter really is medicine. It releases dopamine, reduces blood pressure, and relaxes the body. We often get serious and tense when we feel socially anxious. Try to remember that you’re human just like everyone else. Imperfection is what connects us. Be willing embarrass yourself a little bit and let yourself laugh and be silly. It’s not your problem if people judge you for being yourself. This can be difficult to do at first, so it’s best to practice in low-risk environments first, or situations where you won’t be consumed with anxiety.

Meditation and Breathing Techniques

Feeling socially anxious is overwhelming. Our heart rates increase, we begin to sweat, and our thoughts jump from place to place. Relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing are accessible ways to provide relief from anxiety or any negative emotion. From this space, you can teach your mind and body to slow down and think from a neutral place.

 

Ask For Support

There are many ways to deal with anxiety and manage symptoms from home. However, managing our mental health is a heavy task, and we all need support. Seeking a professional for your anxiety and depression as early as possible can save you from more extreme health problems down the road. We have counselors in Flower Mound and Southlake that specialize in treating a wide variety of mental health disorders and provide multiple options for treatment.

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.

 

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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