For those of us who suffer from social anxiety, any social situation can be a harrowing experience. Social anxiety is a disorder that causes you to feel fearful when you are exposed to social situations. Each case of social anxiety is different, so some sufferers may only experience overwhelming social anxiety when put into a public speaking situation. Others, however, may feel fear during a typical, everyday conversation. While social anxiety isn't always debilitating, it can have a powerful effect on people. Over time it may make someone afraid to leave their house and lead to other disorders like agoraphobia. In this article, we'll outline some tips on how to overcome social anxiety. Like any other disorder, with patience, diligence, and devotion, you can learn to overcome social anxiety.
Tip #1: Accept your social anxiety A key part in overcoming any disorder or mental roadblock is becoming aware that it exists. You may know already that you are uncomfortable in social situations, but only when you've accepting that the underlying reason for this is the disorder known as social anxiety will you begin to address it. Sometimes accepting you have social anxiety simply involves discovering this, but in other situations pride or emotional attachments may make it difficult for you to admit that you have social anxiety. Once you've identified social anxiety as the root of your problems, you'll be ready to begin working to remedy it.
Tip #2: Find someone to talk to A key step in learning how to overcome social anxiety in your life is to find a confidante. Having someone you trust who you can talk to about your social anxiety issues is invaluable. It's also helpful if they have some knowledge about the subject. This is why many people turn to a psychologist in order to help them overcome their social anxiety. A therapist has been trained in methods to heal your social anxiety and also has a firm foundation of knowledge about your disorder. Another good confidante might be a fellow social anxiety sufferer, or someone who at least experiences shyness. This will give them a background that will allow them to understand your situation.
Tip #3: Practice ways of staying calm One of the key aspects of learning how to overcome social anxiety involves learning ways to calm your body down. Physical anxiety is an important element of social anxiety. While many of us tend to equate anxiety with only thought processes, it is frequently the case that the anxious feelings actually originate in the body. Then, the mind exacerbates them by focusing on them. Thus, if you can learn techniques to use to calm your body they often can vastly improve your ability to manage social anxiety. Common methods include diaphragmatic breathing and self-relaxation. With practice, you can calm yourself as easily as you could with prescription medicine.
Tip #4: Learn new thought patterns Social anxiety often revolves around patterns of thinking that are called cognitive distortions. These thoughts are irrational, and cause thoughts to "snowball", essentially becoming more and more irrational and anxiety-producing. Thus, a key part of learning how to overcome social anxiety is identifying these thoughts when they occur and learning ways to stop them dead in their tracks. Irrational thoughts come in several forms. One common type is catastrophic thinking. For example, someone who is engaging in catastrophic thinking might believe that a group of friends are going to hate her because she pronounced a word incorrectly at a dinner. This thought is exaggerating the truth, and could produce an incessant stream of anxious thoughts that tend to be deprecating and critical. Learning how to recognize these thoughts and stop them before they can cause further harm is important.
Tip #5: Make peace with your imperfections Often, those who suffer from social anxiety may be comparing their social skills to an ideal. The truth, however, is that they may never be able to reach this ideal and comparing themselves to a smooth-talking conversationalist might be unfair. Instead it might be helpful to accept that they are not the most gregarious person, but that they can accept this shortcoming because they have strengths in other areas. Making this peace with yourself is a key step in learning how to overcome social anxiety.
Social anxiety is difficult for anyone to deal with, but it can be overcome. With strong motivation and patience, you can do anything. Start with the steps listed above and be on your way to a stress-free life today!
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