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Social Anxiety and Learning to Control it

Social anxiety is a chronic mental health condition that can cause a person to experience anxiety or fear when they are in the presence of other people. This can become an irrational anxiety that leads people to feel humiliation, depression, and inadequacy over time. As the condition progresses, there is a possibility that it can leave a person housebound if it isn’t treated properly.

Common examples of social anxiety

The most common examples of social anxiety are those that come from public speaking, or eating in front of people. As the condition increases, there may be additional fears a person begins to experience. Those who suffer from social anxiety will do all they can to blend into the world around them, as they don’t want to stand out in a crowd. This could be for either good or bad reasons.

Avoidance

Typically, those who suffer from social anxiety will go above and beyond to avoid situations that could potentially have people focus on them. If a college requires a public speaking course, they may drop out in order to avoid that course. Often, those with social anxiety cannot find a relationship. The concern is they will receive some kind of rejection, so they will avoid others at all costs.

Fortunately, social anxiety can be controlled. But in order to succeed with it, you do need to work on it. It isn’t a mental health condition that will go away on its own.

That’s why a good place to begin is with a licensed therapist. These professionals will take the time to sit down with you and to work out what needs to be done. They can help you to understand why you have social anxiety and what things you can do to treat it. If they feel your case warrants it, they may provide you with medication that can help you through the process.  The thing to remember is that coping with a mental health disorder is not a sign of weakness. It is easy to give yourself over to the social anxiety, but a strong person will fight it.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises can help you to calm yourself down before anxiety can overwhelm you. Prior to entering a situation you know will provoke your anxiety, you can take several deep breaths. This will help you to ease your nerves. Don’t focus on it, instead do it while you have a normal conversation. That way, you continue to calm your nerves and take your social anxiety head on.

Your therapist will likely have you begin to put yourself in a series of situations that will help you to combat your anxiety. This is called an exposure hierarchy. In this situation, you have the most severe anxiety situation at the top of the list, with the one that isn’t too stressful at the bottom. You then begin to work from the bottom up and go through the list as you work on coping with your anxiety. As you complete a step, you’ll find you become stronger and more confident in the process. That can lead to a sense of accomplishment, and this often is done with safe situations.

Be realistic

Just remember to be realistic about the views you have on things. There are underlying things that are contributing to your anxiety and you need to also work those out. The longer you take to deal with them, the more they can fester and make it harder to work past. Just take each item one step at a time and don’t expect to master social anxiety overnight. After all, your social anxiety built up over the course of time.

But if you put some effort into it, you can begin to take back your life and to avoid many of the headaches and hardships that you once faced. Social anxiety is an incredibly treatable condition. It is one that does take some effort on your part, but once you have a system in place you can count on, you too can overcome it.

More on: Anxiety, Other
Latest update: August 1, 2016