Thursday, 10 May 2018

Coping with Social Anxiety + My experience

Social Anxiety is the fear of being in social situations, like
Shyness only much more extreme.
People with social phobia are afraid of embarrassing themselves in public, and feel that others are constantly judging them in a negative way.
They often worry ahead of time before a social situation of all the possible things that could go wrong, and also dwell on things after the event, that they think went wrong.
Social anxiety makes it very difficult for you to talk to others and make friends and form relationships, often people with social anxiety get very nervous talking with someone, that they will get physical symptoms of anxiety such as blushing, excessive sweating, dizziness, light headedness, mind going blank, and clumsiness.
Social Anxiety can be a very lonely depressing illness as we all do need some human contact.
I'm going to share my Social Anxiety story and some tips on how to cope with the condition and get better.

My experience

I have suffered with social Anxiety all my life, I remember being at school, I was always painfully shy.
I found it very difficult making friends and being able to trust others, which I think stemmed from the abuse I faced as a child.
I was always afraid to talk and felt like my opinion didn't matter, and that others would judge me or laugh at me. I was so shy that if someone said 'hi' to me I couldn't even say it back I would just smile, which probably made me seem very rude, which made me even more anxious that people would think that.
As I grew older I think my social anxiety got even worse as others would start to notice it, people would always say I'm too quiet, or "you never talk" and this made me feel even more uncomfortable.
I had a lot of body image issues growing up, so I think this led my social anxiety to be worse, as I was always worrying about how I looked, and thought other people were judging me too.
I never made any close friends at school and I was always alone, I would sit and read in the library every lunchtime, and I was a very isolated child, which obviously wasn't good for me as it made my social skills terrible, I just didn't know how to talk to people.

When I finally left home at 18 and went to university this was when I noticed, there was something different about me.
Everyone was confident and sociable and friendly, but I was just so quiet and shy I felt like there was something wrong with me and I never made any friends, which made me feel like nobody liked me.
I was so Lonely and got so depressed by this.

"At it's worst, I couldn't even make a phone call, or leave the house,  I was so afraid of having to talk, or people judging me".

I finally made 1 friend a year later who I lived with in a shared house, she was very sociable and friendly, so was easy to talk to.
Although I never felt fully comfortable around her, it was nice having someone to talk to.
Through this friend is how I met my boyfriend, which I honestly never thought I would find, as I was just so socially anxious.
And now for the first time ever I actually have someone in my life who I can truly be my self around, which is completely rare for me.
Although it did take a while for me to be myself around him, I was able to open up.

I still suffer with social Anxiety today but it has improved, here are some tips for coping with social Anxiety.

See a Counsellor or go to a support group
I would definitely recommend one if not both of these as it is very helpful to talk to someone about your disorder and its also a great way to build up your confidence talking to others, which will help your social phobia.
I know a group session can be very scary for someone with social Anxiety, but you've got to remember that everyone there suffers from the same condition as you, so they all feel the same way and won't be judging you.
See your GP to find out what support they can offer you, or have a look online for local support groups or counselors.

Get out of the house
Don't sit around in your room all day, as this really wont help you, your just going to be even more isolated and lonely, so go to the shops or cafe, and practice talking to people at the checkout, or go to your local library, try sparking up a conversation with someone for example, the barista at the coffee shop ask them how their days been, or compliment their outfit or something.
I know its difficult but doing something like this will really help improve your social skills and boost your confidence.

If theres's something you love to do, or want to try, go to a class, this way your learning to be around people and do something fun, it will boost your confidence and you may even make some friends, remember that no one will be judging you. Their all there because they enjoy the class your at and just want to learn and have fun.

Get a pet
Pets can be so great in the treatment of anxiety and depression, I know when I go out for a walk or somewhere with my dog I feel so much more relaxed and confident than I do when I go out by myself.
So if you can and are prepared to take on the responsibility of a pet, then do so, I personally prefer dogs as you can take your dog out with you.

Don't Avoid things
I know For me when I was anxious about something in the the past all I did was avoid social situations, such as a presentation at university, going to an appointment or job interview.
Which in turn basically tells my brain that I can't do something and the more you don't do something the more your mind starts to believe it.
So If you do have somewhere you need to go really push yourself to do it, I mean really what's the worst that can happen? so you get anxious nobody's going to judge you for that, and if they do then their really not worth your time.
Just think how doing these things is going to benefit you, if you have a presentation at uni and you miss it chances are your going to get a lower mark, or if you don't turn up to a job interview then your not going to get the job, and most likely you really need it, so the only person your going to be jeopardising is yourself.

Change the way you think about things
If you think negatively about a situation that's only going to make your anxiety worse.
Thinking negatively about a situation only makes you more anxious, and less able to function in the situation.
Where as if you think positively before the event, it can make you feel less anxious and the situation will go a lot more smoothly.
Obviously when you have social anxiety its not that simple it does take time, but the more you put these positive thoughts into action the easier social situations will become for you.

There are many self help books for social-anxiety one i recommend is 'Overcoming Social Anxiety and shyness By Gillian Butler'.
Its basically a self help guide using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT), I would definitely recommend it a long side another form of therapy, it does have some great techniques to learn to cope with social anxiety in there.

If you have any questions please leave in the comments below.
Hope this was some help to you.

Have a great day! 


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