How To Stop Being Socially Anxious
Being socially anxious can make life difficult in a world that seems so open and willing to share. People living with social anxieties often find it difficult to do many things that others take for granted – like going out with friends or participating in social engagements with co-workers. Fortunately, being socially anxious does not have to sentence a person to isolation. There are ways to overcome it.
Science has not yet determined the exact cause of social anxiety disorder. The current thinking is that there might be multiple factors contributing to a person's anxiousness. Biologically, it is possible that an inability to regulate serotonin levelsin the brain can contribute to social anxiety. Another possibility is hyperactivity in a part of the brain known as the amygdala.
Research indicates that children with at least one parent who has also suffered from social anxiety disorder are 30-40% more likely to develop the disorder themselves. How much of this is due to genetics, as opposed to learned habits, is unknown.
Traumatic life events are believed to be a contributing factor in some cases. Examples include the death of a parent, family conflicts, bullying in school, and even maternal stress during pregnancy.
Tips for Overcoming Social Anxiety
Again, it is possible to stop being socially anxious. It takes time and a concerted effort, but it can be done. It's a matter of retraining the brain to look at those things that cause anxiety in different ways. Below are tips gleaned from multiple sources.
Deep Breathing Exercises
Practising deep breathing exercises can be therapeutic in the moments just before participating in an activity that causes anxiety. A good deep breathing technique can help you relax and focus your thoughts. Furthermore, practising deep breathing every day will eventually make it second nature to you. Read more on deep breathing and muscle relaxing techniques here https://www.aspiringbutterfliez.co.uk/Blog/Post/17
Increase Your Exposure
The brain is a lot like a muscle in the sense that it must be exercised if it is to be retrained. As such, it's a good idea to gradually increase your exposure to those types of situations that cause anxiety. If you have trouble meeting new people, for example, gradually expose yourself to more situations that put you in contact with strangers. Then practise introducing yourself and engaging in light conversation. Read our blog on small talk which gives you some ideas on ways to interact with social anxiety https://www.aspiringbutterfliez.co.uk/Blog/Post/14
Create Goals for New Situations
People who feel overwhelmingly anxious in social situations tend to start believing that they cannot succeed in those situations. An effective way to overcome this thinking is to set goals for each new situation you find yourself in. For example, you might set a goal of contributing three sentences to the conversation during your next social gathering. During that event, do not focus your thoughts on what anyone else might think about you. Concentrate on contributing those three sentences.
Work on Rational Thoughts
People with social anxiety disorder tend to analyse new situations with somewhat irrational thoughts. You overcome this by thinking on what you know to be rational. Rather than convincing yourself you are going to fail at making new friends based on past experience, think rationally about your upcoming gathering. Think through the reality that the gathering represents an entirely new event, completely separate from previous events. It represents a new chance to start over and try again.
Social anxiety is more than just shyness. It is a social phobia that can be exceedingly difficult to live with. Hopefully what you have read in this post will give you some direction for overcoming your own anxieties. You can do this. Take it slow, take it one step at a time, and do not give up.