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Taking medication for social anxiety should always be done after consulting with a doctor and fully understanding the side effects and if it's the best option.

social anxiety medication

If you suffer from social anxiety then the lure of a magic pill that can make your fears and worries vanish is highly appealing. And social anxiety medication does actually exist.

There are a variety of medications that are available to cure anxiety disorders, including but not limited to traditional anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants and beta-blockers. But before taking any kind of medication, you must first consider the fact that medication cannot cure anxiety entirely or over the long-term.

Social anxiety medication is at it’s most beneficial when combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy to address the underlying thoughts driving social phobia. This is because social anxiety medication can offer temporary relief to the symptoms so that it’s easier to put the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy into practice when trying to overcome social anxiety disorder.

Side effects of social anxiety medication

Just like any other over the counter drugs, antidepressants and other social anxiety drugs have their own share of side effects. These drugs are not safe for everyone even when used with precautions. They can lead to complications when combined with other substances, especially when you are using them for a long period of time. That’s why it is important to weigh carefully the pros and cons before taking any social anxiety medication, which must only ever be taken after speaking to a doctor and getting a prescription.

If you think you are considering taking medication for social anxiety disorder then there are five things to think about:

1. Be patient. The effects of anxiety medications is gradual, it would take time until you can feel their full therapeutic effect. It can often takes time and patience to find the drugs that works best for you so you will have to work closely with your doctor to find the right dosage and evaluate its effectiveness.

2. Avoid Alcohol. Avoid dangerous drugs interaction, do not mix alcohol with any anxiety medications. The after effect is lethal, even in less toxic doses it can cause poor coordination and impaired thinking, increasing the risk of motor vehicle incidents and other injuries.

3. Monitor your medication response. Everyone has varying reactions to medications that’s why it is important to keep a record of your reaction to your anxiety medication, these includes the physical and emotional changes that you are experiencing after taking the medication. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery if you are taking benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax and et al., wait until you know how the drugs affect you. Always remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has weighed the benefit to you is greater that the risk of side effects.

4. Talk to your doctor. Be open and honest about side effects your anxiety drug is causing. Don’t be afraid to discuss problems or concerns. And while you should never stop your anxiety medication without talking to your doctor first, ultimately the decision is up to you. If you’re unhappy with how the pills make you feel, ask your doctor to help you taper off.

5. Continue Your Therapy. Medication can control the symptoms of anxiety, but it doesn’t treat the underlying problem. Therefore, it’s crucial to pursue therapy or some other form of anxiety treatment. Therapy can help you get to the root of your anxiety problem and develop better coping skills.

So before taking any kind of social anxiety medication, think carefully about these five points and then consult a doctor, psychologist or other medical professional for further advice.

Disclaimer

All advice on this site is merely advice. I am not a trained psychologist and you should always consult a doctor or other medical professional is social anxiety is adversely affecting your life and you have reached the stage where you are considering whether to take social anxiety medication.

Originally posted 2014-12-10 09:35:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Think positive

Social anxiety can be a difficult chain to break out of. While direct causes can vary, typically it’s a negative way of thinking that can cause the sense of low self-esteem and lack of self confidence that drives it.

It was not so long ago that I realized how negativity hinders my own self-growth. I became so insecure, I even questioned my purpose; I was afraid to set goals because I was afraid to fail, and thus I lacked direction in life.

This was until I realized I need to do something to get my life back on track. I began to focus only on good ways of thinking and behaving to attract positive responses. I cleaned up my negative thoughts and instead instilled positive vibes towards myself. It was hard at first, but gradually I noticed the difference within myself. I learned that social anxiety, and life in general, becomes easier to live with if you shift your attitude into a positive light and make a habit of saying “No!” to negativity.

The following are some negativity reducing tips that will help you discard those negative feelings and thoughts that can drive social phobia, which will eventually lead to a fuller and brighter life ahead of you.

1. Set rational goals

They always say that “If you want to dream, dream big and if your dream does not scare you maybe it is not big enough”. There is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but sometimes it is impossible to attain larger than life goals when the intimidate you. You have to break them down to pieces and set up some strategies on how to move up the ladder little by little. That way you will be more motivated to continue reaching your goal once you have found the satisfaction by attaining the smaller goals first.

2. Turn problems into challenges

As what Arizona-based entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown said “Motion beats meditation.” Sometimes we get overwhelmed at the problem at hand and would question our ability to perform the task. When it comes to a point like this, it is better to view any obstacles as a challenge, like a game that you need to win over.

Self limitation is the main reason why most of us fail to meet our goals in life. It is useless to rehash inspiring quotes and post motivational words on your social media accounts when you yourself are even afraid to take a leap of faith.

3. Reset your default answer

I remember the movie “Yes, Man” where a character named Carl Allen played by Jim Carrey goes to a motivational “Yes!” seminar and made a covenant to stop being a “No Man” and vows to answer “Yes!” to every opportunity, request or invitation that presents itself thereafter.

It made me realize a lot of things and had me thinking, what if I adapt the same attitude? I was astounded on what I discovered. It made me more optimistic, confident, self assured, friendly and sociable. Stop saying “No” every time, instead you can default to “I’m not sure; give me a minute,” suggested by Lynette Louise, a neurofeedback therapist. This will help you think of it a bit longer and find a good reason to say yes before you say no.

4. Display that award

Surround yourself of physical reminders of positivity, it may come as proof of your past achievements, like trophies, certificates of recognition, your university diploma, photos of your family and loved ones.

5. Put your hands up!

According to a study conducted in 2012, between people who do “Power Poses” (e.g. leaning back in a chair with hands behind head) vs people who do low-power poses (e.g. standing with arms hugging chest and ankles crossed) tend to be more confident. This is believed to be because power poses boost confidence and can increase testosterone level than the lower-pose. This study is also used as a reference when athletes lose their confidence, which is why yoga coach Dana Santas always instructs athletes to hold the “mountain Pose with Arms Up”.

6. Detox from bad news.

I sometimes wonder why the evening news is full of negative headlines. I personally do not encounter that many bad things in my everyday waking life. Colene Eridge, a life coach in Lexington, Ky. suggests taking a break from the negativity that you encounter in daily life, whether it’s from those gruesome evening headlines or your whining neighbor. It doesn’t mean that you are avoiding them, it’s just making a choice of encouraging positive vibes and discarding the negative ones.

7. Wake up on the right side of the bed.

Ask yourself three “morning questions” when you wake that will let you focus on the day ahead and clear your head all of the negative thoughts the night before.

Try asking yourself these questions:

• What am I excited about doing today?
• Who can I encourage or serve today? (Get the focus off yourself)
• What am I grateful for?

Just think about all the things that make you excited by just visualizing them. You will be surprise how this simple exercise can change your perspective for the entire day.

Negative thinking clouds your thoughts and makes situations seem a lot worse than they are, which is a classic cause/symptom of social anxiety disorder. So try following these 7 tips in your daily life to see if they can help reduce your social phobia for good.

Originally posted 2014-11-03 20:03:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

get over social anxiety naturally

How is social anxiety affecting your life right now? Are there ways to overcome social anxiety naturally?

According to Dr. Justin Weeks, the assistant professor of Psychology and director of the Center for Evaluation and Treatment of Anxiety at Ohio University, “Shyness and social anxiety disorder are all part of one continuum and it’s only a question of severity.”

This is certainly true. Social anxiety varies extensively in severity between different people. So how seriously is it impacting your life? Does it hinder you to reach your goals and live a fulfilling life?

If the answer is “Yes” then maybe you need to do something before its too late.

I regarded myself as a victim of social anxiety disorder and regretted every wrong decision I made in my high school and college days as a student. I was too worried to approach my teacher just to ask clarifications on my grades, I skip classes because my teacher asks me to speak in front of the class, which is my most dreadful thing to do back then. I always wish I have a life coach to motivate me and push me to face my fears and conquer my limits.

However, if you don’t have a life coach and are experiencing the same thing then you can try the following ways suggested by Weeks, to overcome your social anxiety naturally.

1. Try some self-help manual

Self-help manuals are aimed to supplement therapy sessions, but they are also good means for working things out on your own, said Weeks. One of the manual that he suggested is the “Managing Social Anxiety” workbook. which is proven to be effective on cognitive-behavioral therapy. The workbook contains all the tools necessary to help patients manage their anxiety and improve their quality of life.

2. Work with your therapist

When social anxiety is stopping you from doing things that can improve your quality of life and have not been successful in self-help then maybe it’s time to seek for a professional help. Find a therapist who is eligible to handle your case and specializes in anxiety disorders.

3. Practice deep breathing technique

Weeks suggest practicing deep breathing technique everyday until it became a habit. Deep breathing exercises are very beneficial before an anxiety-provoking social situation. Because the breath can be used to directly influence the stressful changes causing a direct stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.

4. Create an exposure hierarchy

An exposure hierarchy is a list – akin to a ladder – where you write down situations that cause you anxiety, in order of severity. Then you perform the easiest behavior, and keep moving up the list.

To create your own hierarchy, list 10 anxiety-provoking situations, and rate them on a 100-point scale (zero being no anxiety; 100 being severe anxiety). Your list might start with asking a stranger for directions and end with joining Toastmasters.

Try visiting global.oup.com that can link you to various worksheets on coping with social anxiety, and includes “the fear and avoidance hierarchy.” (Look for “managing social anxiety: workbook.”)

5. Create objective goals

One of Weeks recommendation is to devise objective goals. In view of the fact that people tend to disqualify the positive when they feel anxious, when they might do well even great, but because of their anxious feelings, they see their performance as appalling.

Focus on achieving on your objective goals rather than the reactions that you are going to get from the people around you. It is a good technique to create these objective goals that set as a barometer for judging your progress. “You did what you wanted to in a situation. We can’t control what another person is going to do.” Said Weeks.

6. Keep a rational outlook

Dispute both bleak thoughts that undermine your performance and fuel your anxiety, and equally unrealistic thoughts that are irrationally positive, Weeks said. If you are giving a speech, you might initially think that you would do poorly. But if you have given speeches before this is not a rational or realistic perspective. You might say instead, “I’ve given speeches before. I’m prepared, and I’ll give it my best shot”.

As what Weeks said, if social anxiety is sabotaging your goals and stopping you from living the life you want seek help and try the above techniques and recommendations. Social anxiety is highly treatable, and there are many ways you can treat social anxiety naturally.

At the core, it takes a lot of patience, persistence and a determination to get better and grow in the process.

Originally posted 2015-01-16 06:29:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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alcohol and social anxiety

 

A group of researchers at the University Of Cincinnati (UC) are now developing a computer program that can help people to develop some healthy mental habits to reduce their reliance on alcohol for treating social anxiety.  Joshua Magee, PhD, the research assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, says that the Attention Modification Program (AMP) is aimed to change what individuals with social anxiety and problem drinking focus their attention under normal circumstances. Magee added that, the way people pay attention to things in their environment is important for both causing and maintaining social anxiety and alcoholism. Both social anxiety and alcohol attention patterns are a part of a certain chain that can lead to complications.

In my own personal experience, as someone who had suffered social anxiety ever since I can remember, I always felt uncomfortable in social gatherings, I want to disappear or dig a hole to where I am standing and to be teleported to somewhere I can be alone. But when there are wines or any alcoholic drink I tend to purposely get myself extra drunk just to conceal or cloak my awkward shyness. This way, I don’t really think that much of any uncomfortable thoughts and appear extra confident. I tend to be over talkative and just blabber about anything without even analyzing my thoughts.

Shifting to alcohol when you are caught under awkward social situations is fine at first, but what happen when you make it a habit? According to Dr. Magee, the Attention Modification Program aims to be an effective method for reducing social anxiety and drinking that can translate out into community settings. It would give people an inexpensive way to reduce the symptoms that is less dependent on a doctor’s prescriptions and could be done at home.

 

 

 

Originally posted 2014-07-13 17:19:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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A mother and her teenage daughter hugging.

While there are many possible causes, one thing many people with social anxiety have in common is that they also suffer from depression. It’s a double edged sword because the isolation from other people and lack of activity caused by social anxiety can make you feel depressed while feeling depressed can make you want to avoid contact with other people.

For this reason medication is commonly administered for both social anxiety and depression, but it’s not exactly cheap. More than 46 million people in the U.S. do not have insurance to cover their medications and the average monthly cost of antidepressants, which can range from $ 120 – $ 400 per month, depending on the dosage and the brand.

While you should always seek professional help if you suffer from depression or severe social anxiety, there are a number of ways you can reduce depression without spending a single dime.

1. Stop blaming yourself

This is perhaps the most basic and the most important thing in fighting depression. You should come to terms with yourself and accept the reality that depression can be a physical illness just like cancer, leukemia or diabetes. Stop blaming yourself and your inadequacy to control your situation, you can’t recover from depression if you continue the same mindset all throughout your therapy.

2. Talk About It

Don’t let yourself become isolated from your family, friends and love ones. Open up to someone you can trust who can provide you with emotional support and help you seek out treatment options. They may not relate to what you are experiencing right now but it would be a great opportunity for you to express how you are feeling.

3. Exercise Regularly

I know it’s hard even to lift a single finger when you feel depressed. But doing 30 minutes or more of intensive exercises has shown to improve the symptoms of social anxiety and depression. By doing a regular exercise everyday can make a difference to your energy levels and a good stimulation of endorphins, a kind of hormones that help you feel better about yourself.

4. Postpone major Decisions

Do not make life changing decisions when you are depressed. A lot of people have made this mistake and have put their jobs, relationships and life at risk. Negative thoughts rules all over your head when you are depressed and this often alters your judgment on almost everything, so it is better to delay any important decisions you want to take and wait until you are in the right state of mind.

5. Get back into nature

Research have shown that when you focus your attention outward rather on inward it helps ward off your negative thoughts and feelings and it can make you appreciate more on what’s around you. Having contact with pets, plants, parks and beautiful sceneries reduces stress and can boost your mood.

6. Keep a balanced diet

Aside from regular exercise, a balance and healthy diet is essential to a happy mood. A Mediterranean-style diet, rich in veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and fish, is a good way to lower the risk of developing depression, according to a 2009 study in the Archives of General Psychology.

7. Avoid alcohol and drugs

Alcohol tends to be the easiest way to forget momentarily about problems, which is why many people undergoing depression or social anxiety turn to alcohol and drugs to relieve the symptoms. But you may have to steer away from alcohol and especially illegal drugs which can interfere with depression medications and alter your mood in a bad way.

8. Keep a healthy sleeping habit

Depression and insomnia are interrelated to one another. Depression is common among insomniacs and patients who are depressed often find it hard to sleep at night. Keep track of your bed time and maintain a regular sleeping habit.

There’s no quick fix to depression or social anxiety, unfortunately. Full recovery and gaining a happier, objective and healthier state of mind only comes from changing your thought processes and lifestyle in the long run. There’s no better time to start then the present, so consider following some of these tips to reduce your depression and social anxiety in the process.

Originally posted 2014-10-14 11:14:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

A 40 step strategy that can help you improve your mindset, lifestyle, self esteem and help you overcome social anxiety disorder and gain a more fulfilling life

40 Steps for Overcoming Social Anxiety

get over social anxiety naturally

It’s proven – Changing the way you think will change the way you feel. This guide explains how you can change the negative thoughts driving social anxiety disorder so you can feel happier and more relaxed around other people, and  live a more fulfilling life free from fear.

Feeling nervous or self-conscious is normal. But when you suffer from social anxiety, also known as social phobia, these uncomfortable feelings can be extremely painful and  even crippling.

People with social anxiety worry that others will notice they are feeling nervous or uncomfortable and look down on them as a result. They feel as though they are the centre of attention the moment they walk into a room, and that people are talking about them in a negative way. Any time someone laughs, they will assume it is about them.

Social anxiety affects millions of people. Not just you

The fear of doing something embarrassing and being negatively judged affects millions of people around the world. Its severity can range from feeling uncomfortable talking in front of groups to avoiding social situations altogether. Social phobia can prevent people from forming close friendships or getting to know other people at all. It also holds people back from leaving the house, preferring the controlled environment and safety of their bedroom.

People with social anxiety will also replay events endlessly in their head. They’ll continuously beat themselves up about the smallest little mistake, making them even more worried about meeting the same people again.

If any of this sounds familiar, it may be that you are experiencing social anxiety. While you may feel down about it right now, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Social anxiety is now a medically recognised and diagnosable condition. Social anxiety is also something that can be overcome with patience and persistence. It doesn’t have to be something you have to deal with for the rest of your life.

What is social anxiety disorder/social phobia and what causes it?

As its name suggests, social anxiety is the fear of social situations. It can cover many different scenarios, from walking around the shops to catching a bus to meeting new people or even talking in front of people you may consider your friends. In all cases, it’s driven by a subconscious fear of being viewed or judged negatively or doing something embarrassing.

My experience with social anxiety

I was always a painfully shy child. I’d rather have my head in a book than hang around with other kids due to my seeming inability to not say or do anything embarrassing. The only exception was playing football (or soccer, if you’re in the US). This was a rare time when I could run and shout freely without having to think of the right thing to say.

But the rest of the time, I dreaded break times at school and counted down the hours when I’d get a brief respite from the sense of discomfort and isolation I felt all day. Suffice to say, school weren’t my happiest years.

Unfortunately, my social awkwardness didn’t reduce as I grew older. It stayed with me into adulthood and followed me into the workplace like a hovering black cloud. People would comment on how I never said anything and walking around the office was like running a gauntlet of negative stares and handing out invitations to be negatively judged.

Eventually, it became clear that these uncomfortable thoughts and feelings would hold me back forever unless I found a way to replace them. If I wanted to be a functioning member of human society, something drastic had to change.

Lonely student posing while his classmates are talking

Medication alone was not the answer

So I went to see my doctor to share this deeply rooted problem, thinking there must be some chemical imbalance in my brain that made me feel this way. After listening to my rambling explanation of my behavioral struggles, he promptly put me on beta blockers to help ‘calm me down.’

Beta blockers are normally given to people with high blood pressure. While they did calm my nerves, they just made me feel like an unemotional robot all day. This wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

Thankfully, I was able to find out about social anxiety while researching my symptoms online. This was the light bulb switching on moment for me. After finding out about the specific condition of social anxiety, I set about finding solutions and developing a strategy for overcoming it.

With a diagnose comes treatment

This then led to me working through the negative thoughts with cognitive behavioural therapy and adopting all the strategies outlined in this guide. Improvement didn’t happen overnight. But with practice, patience and persistence, I was able to reduce my social anxiety to a level where it didn’t stop me going where I wanted or doing what I wanted to do.

Such was the sense of satisfaction I felt at improving my mental health and overall happiness, I decided to create www.socialanxietydisorder.org.uk to share the strategies that worked for me in the hope they can help others battling to overcome social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder is more common than you may think

When you suffer from social anxiety, it can feel as though you’re all alone. That you’re the only person that feels so awful in social situations, and think in a way that nobody else can understand.

But social anxiety is actually more widespread than you might realise. In fact, research suggests that 15 millions people in the U.S. suffer from social anxiety. The majority of people aren’t diagnosed for 10 years or more, but instead forced to suffer in silence.

There are two types of social anxiety/social phobia:

Generalised social anxiety – This can be triggered in any social situation when you feel people are looking at you in a negative way, making you feel uncomfortable or afraid. This can include meeting new people, being watched while doing something or eating in a restaurant.

Specific social anxiety – You feel awkward in specific situations. Public speaking or performing in front of an audience is a specific situation when most people suffer from social anxiety, or as it’s more commonly known ‘stage fright’.

social phobia

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety can trigger a variety of emotional and physical symptoms, which vary in severity between individuals.

Psychological symptoms:

  • Excessive self-consciousness and sensing that everyone is watching you
  • Worrying for days, weeks, or even months about how a social situation will play out
  • Fearful of strangers and people you dont know
  • You automatically have a negative impression of people you dont know. You assume they’re waiting for an excuse to belittle or reject you.
  • Embarrassing yourself in public is a constant worry
  • You worry that other people will notice your nervousness and reject you as a result

Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • You feel sick or have an upset stomach
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Sweating or clammy hands
  • General shakiness
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Face feels like it’s throbbing and its a constantly bright red colour

Behaviour patterns for social anxiety disorder

Nobody wants to think or feel this way, so it’s naturally to adopt behavioural strategies to soften or avoid the symptoms of social anxiety altogether. Some of the patterns of behaviour for social phobics include:

  • Constantly arriving late to classes or meetings so you dont have to interact with people beforehand
  • Avoiding social situations altogether, and missing out on positive experiences that could reduce your social phobia over the long term
  • Not speaking or keeping a low profile to avoid the risk of doing anything embarrassing
  • Afraid to attend social gatherings unless you can go with a friend
  • Relying on alcohol, or even illegal drugs, to help you relax enough to be able to speak to people

While ‘safety behaviours’ can make social situations easier to cope with, they prevent you from overcoming it in the long run. Instead, you’ll be spending your life treading water and missing out on all the positive things that can happen to you when you stop feeling afraid.

When you don’t speak you don’t give people an opportunity to know you better, and will miss out on the friendships that can help you improve and be more socially active.

Avoiding other people also prevents you from doing things you’d like to do or reaching certain goals. You wont be able to play the sports you used to enjoy, to give that presentation that will help you get promotion or be able to go on dates.

So if you want to overcome social anxiety for good, you need to start addressing the safety behaviours and avoidance strategies that are holding you back.

What Causes Social Anxiety?

Just as with its symptoms, the underlying causes of social anxiety can vary. Typically, it’s a combination of a sense of inferiority, lack of self confidence, negative childhood experiences or a specific event which can induce a sense of embarrassment and shame in public. Underneath it all is an unhealthy belief system that makes you feel subconsciously threatened by other people and to feel nervous, uncomfortable and even afraid whenever your negative thoughts are triggered.

bullying.jpg

Childhood experiences

As with any learned behaviour, it’s believed social anxiety can become part of your subconscious belief system due to negative experiences as a child. If you were bullied at school, ignored by your parents or made to feel rejected for a prolonged time then the pain can live on in your subconscious mind for many years afterwards. If you’ve perpetually felt embarrassed or ashamed in social situations that forms a part of your belief system, which you can carry with you long into adulthood.

Read more about overcoming being bullied

A negative way of thinking

Social anxiety can also be caused by a predisposition to think in a negative way. You may, for whatever reason, have thoughts lodged in your head that situations will always go badly and that embarrassing yourself is only a matter of time. Negative ways of thinking typically drive social anxiety, and negative thinking can afflict anyone, whatever your childhood history.

Genetic causes

If your family has a history of anxiety then it could be that you’re genetically predisposed to developing social phobia. Having anxious parents also means you likely grew up in an environment where thinking the worst and worrying excessively was the norm. This in turn causes you to adopt similar ways of thinking and behaving, and forming a negative opinion of the people in the world around you.

Biological causes

The human brain has been evolving for millions of years. But it’s only in the last few thousand that we’ve learned to live in organised societies. We haven’t yet outgrown the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that kept us alert sabre tooth tigers, coyotes and other threats in the animal kingdom.

Unfortunately, this mechanism, which increases our heart rate, raises our level of alertness and prepares us to escape from danger or face it, can be triggered inappropriately whenever we feel threatened. This explains the heightened awareness of your surroundings and pounding heartbeat you feel in social situations, despite there being no rational reason why.

Depositphotos_12073959_m

How can I overcome my social anxiety?

Now that we’ve covered what social anxiety is, its symptoms and what’s driving it, it’s time to shift the focus onto solutions how you can reduce your social anxiety gradually over time.

A lot of research has been done into social anxiety disorder. It’s not some confusing, impossible to diagnose or mysterious condition you have to put up with. It can be treated and reduced so that it just becomes a difficult situation you had to deal with before moving on with the rest of your life.

Overcoming social anxiety involves changing your negative ways of thinking and making lifestyle changes that will make you feel better about yourself, and less threatened by other people as a result. It also involves a lot of practice and patience.

Rewiring your brain and changing your mindset won’t happen overnight. But so long as you commit yourself to making small improvements from now until the rest of your life, you can evolve into a more confident and happier person. Your social anxiety will naturally recede as a result.

The fact that you’re reading this guide is already a positive sign. It shows that you want to change your unhelpful ways of thinking and you recognise a better world exists.

In this guide I outline all the tactics and strategies I used to overcome my social anxiety, and enabled me to discover that changing the way you think will change the way you feel.

1. Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that has grown to become one of the most popular and effective ways of treating depression, negative ways of thinking and, consequently, social phobia.

You can practice it on your own, in a group setting or with a therapist. However you choose to practice, cognitive behavioural therapy enables you to identify negative thoughts when they occur and gives you a framework for replacing them with more positive and objective ways of thinking.

If done on your own, initially you’ll need to practice its exercises on paper. But over time you’ll be able to start performing them in your head until thinking in a positive, objective way becomes a natural part of how your brain works.

I can’t recommend cognitive behavioural therapy enough as a powerful, medication free way of developing a happier, more positive outlook that will reduce your social phobia as a result.

These are the books I recommend for learning more about cognitive behavioural therapy:

David Davd D Burns - Feeling Good

overcoming social anxiety for dummies

overcoming shyness and social anxiety

2. Create a ladder of situations that make you feel anxious and start climbing it

The best way to conquer your fears is to face them. I’m not suggesting you should immediately go sit on a bus all day or force yourself to take up public speaking. If you take stressful situations on too quickly, it can backfire.

Instead, exposing yourself gradually is the best way to acclimatise to the situations that make you feel awkward and then tackle them in a way that’s comfortable for you.

A recommended strategy is to write down all the situations that make you feel uncomfortable or anxious and then arrange them in ascending order. Place the least challenging situations at the bottom and then progressively more challenging scenarios until you reach your worst nightmare at the top.

You could start with a walk around your neighbourhood, talking to the checkout assistant at the supermarket or forcing yourself to sit in your local shopping centre/mall for 30 minutes. You can then step up to catching a bus or eating on your own in a restaurant. If you’re feeling really determined, you could set your final goal as joining Toastmasters (a public speaking organisation) or singing karaoke sober.

As you work through all the suggestions in this guide, and you feel your self confidence rising, try to tackle the situations that make you feel nervous one step at a time.

Remember that this is a long-term strategy. Don’t try to rush it. Take your time and allow yourself to occasionally slip. Every attempt to reach the next rung will make the next attempt easier, and help you reach your goal of climbing out of social anxiety’s clutches altogether.

3. Say ‘no’ to unfair request

One of the worst side effects of social anxiety is the ‘disease to please’. Rooted in low self esteem, this is where you find yourself agreeing to do favours for people even though it may be inconvenient or unfair. This could include lending people money you think wont pay you back, agreeing to do one your colleagues tasks at work despite having a long list of tasks already or simply changing your plans to suit them.

When you do something to please other people at the expense of your own priorities it just leads to resentment and feeling angry yourself for agreeing to it. These feelings can then bottle up until they eventually explode in an unhealthy way.

The healthy way to handle unfair requests is to weigh up whether what they are asking is fair or unreasonable. If it makes you feel uncomfortable agreeing to it then you need to practice saying ‘no’ instead. You can’t spend your life pleasing other people. You priorities are important too. And if you’re reason agreeing to do it is because you think it means they wont like you then they arent very good friends anyway.

Read more about saying ‘no’ to unfair requests

how to say 'no' to unfair requests
hi five

4. Learn how to negotiate to get what you want in life

Throughout your life you’re going to need to negotiate to get what you want. But when you have social anxiety you may find yourself giving up on pursuing your objectives if they put you in conflict with someone else. This could be deciding on the best place to meet or resolving a dispute with a work colleague on whose responsibility a task is.

 The key to getting what you want is not to think in absolutes and that it’s a win or lose situation. Instead, treat negotiation like a dance where you both have to move around your objectives to get a resolution where you both win.

Read more on using healthy negotiation

5. Try to avoid mind reading. Unless you’re Charles Xavier

If you’re affected by social phobia it can cause you to start assuming you know what other people are thinking, when you really have no way of knowing. You may find yourself automatically assuming that people in the room are thinking or saying negative things about you when, in reality, they’re probably too busy talking about themselves and their own lives to be concerned about other people all the time.

6. Predicting the future

Unless you believe in star signs or predetermined destinies, it’s wise not to spend too much time predicting what’s going to happen before you arrive.

Assuming the worst and that you just ‘know’ things will go wrong can instead become a self fulfilling prophecy. Getting worried and anxious will only put you in the wrong frame of mind which only hold you back from attaining positive outcomes.

Instead, stay and calm and relaxed. If you are going to dwell on the future, try imagining what a great time you’ll have instead.

7. Catastrophizing

Just as with thinking in extremes, social phobia can cause you to blow things out of proportion. You may immediately jump to thinking that a social interaction was “awful” or “terrible,” or an event was “disastrous.” In reality, it probably wasn’t all that bad.

Practicing cognitive behavioural therapy will help you to reel back from thinking about situations in catastrophic terms as it always helps to objectively assess whether your thoughts are rational and switch to more helpful ways of thinking instead.

8. Recognize that you’re not the focus of everyone’s attention

When your heart is pounding and your awareness of people in the room is on overdrive, it’s easy to put yourself as the centre of attention and imagine that everyone is talking about you. As you’ll learn with time, this simply isn’t the case. People are too absorbed with what’s going on in their lives to make you their topic of conversation all the time.

Instead, focus on distracting your mind and getting involved in conversations. This will help to relax and be more focused on your immediate surroundings, and less concerned with what’s going on in the background.

9. Avoid focusing on the negatives. Focus on positives instead

After an event you may find yourself analysing everything you said and did and projecting it in a negative light. The problem is this prevents you from recognising the positives and what went well. So if a conversation went badly or you said the wrong thing, remember that it was just one interaction in the entire evening. There would have been times when you mingled with others in a positive way too.

10. You’re not a label. You’re too complicated for that

The negative thinking that social phobia can saddle you with can lead you to giving yourself bad labels. Maybe you think you’re ‘boring’, ‘weird’ or ‘unlovable’. The fact is that you’re too complicated for that. You have multiple facets to your character and many ways of thinking and behaving. You are also always evolving, and through following some of the strategies in this guide you can pull off the negative labels and embrace your newfound complexity instead.

11. Let go of the past. Look to the future

Deciding to overcome social anxiety means deciding not to be a victim. It means deciding to be a participant in life and not an observer. It also means recognising that what happened in the past shouldn’t define your future.

While it’s important to recognise the reasons why you your social anxiety developed, you shouldn’t expend time and energy dwelling on the past. This will only keep you locked within a mental prison where you continue to allow the negative thoughts and emotions of your childhood to darken your present.

Instead, recognise that these are thoughts and emotions you intend to change. Start imagining what your life will be like in the future, free from feeling nervous all the time or worrying what other people think. Picture how overcoming social anxiety will, one day, provide you with an inner strength and a success driven mindset that allows you to power beyond social phobia’s clutches and onto a much more fulfilling future.

climb your way out of social anxiety disorder
relaxation tips for reducing social anxiety

12. Practice deep breathing

It can be amazing how something as simple as breathing deeply can alleviate anxiety. When you are feeling anxious, you’re prone to take short, sharp breaths. This prevents your brain from getting the oxygen it needs to think clearly. It can also worsen the physical symptoms, such as feeling dizzy, as though you’re suffocating and an increased heart rate.

But when you breathe deeply you allow more oxygen to reach your brain. You can then think more clearly about situations, and realise they aren’t as threatening as you may think. Your anxiety will reduce as result.

So the next time you feel as the world is closing in on you, pause and take in a deep breath. This will help you get the physical symptoms under control and to calm the storm clouds gathering in your mind.

Read more about deep breathing for social anxiety.

13. Meditation

Deep breathing and meditation go hand in hand as powerful ways to help your mind and body to relax. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years because of its emotionally healing benefits. In fact, some studies suggest that it can literally expand the grey matter in your brain.

Meditation is particularly powerful for treating social anxiety because it enables you to see how thoughts are constantly rushing around your mind. Some are worth holding onto, while others are best left to pass like traffic on the street.

To get started, there are lots of meditation apps and podcasts you can download for free. These will provide you with guidance to help you direct your thoughts. Some also feature binaural beats that help to slow your brain waves down to a calmer, more relaxed state.

The best results come from practicing meditation daily. This will help to reshape your thoughts into more helpful and positive ways of thinking and assist you on your journey.

Read more about meditation for social anxiety.

Deep breathing to reduce social anxiety disorder

14. Reduce your self conscious by focusing on the world around you

When your social anxiety is peaking it can make you painfully aware of your own body. You can acutely feel every sensation, like your racing heart, sweating palms or throbbing brain. This naturally makes you assume everyone else can see your physical discomfort too, making you feel even worse.

To stop your self consciousness going into overdrive, one trick is to focus on the world around you. Try listening to people’s conversations, practice CBT by challenging your negative thoughts or make silent observations of the decorations in the room. Diverting your attention helps to move it away from focusing on yourself, helping to calm your self consciousness as a result.

15. Count to 10

Another simple yet powerful mind trick is to simply count to ten in your head whenever you feel anxious. This is particularly useful when walking through an open room and you think people are watching you. Counting to ten is a simple way of keeping your frantic mind occupied for long enough to complete certain tasks without feeling overpowered by anxiety.

exercising to reduce social anxiety disorder

16. Yoga

Yoga is no longer just for ladies in spandex. It’s now used by athletes, golfers, rugby players and even professional wrestlers to improve their mobility and reduce the risk of injury.

Along with its physical health benefits of improving muscle and joint strength, yoga is also practiced by millions all over the world for its mind cleansing benefits. Moving through its positions and breathing deeply has a calming effect on the mind. Its final meditation at the end, known as ‘shavasana’, also provides a five or ten minute window for your mind and body to feel completely relaxed.

Whether you practice it at home (there are classes on YouTube) or in a gym class, yoga can be a powerful way of helping your mind to relax and your anxious thoughts to be ushered away.

17. Running

The beauty of running is that it allows you to explore your local parks or neighbourhood without having to worry so much about other people along the way. By the time someone has a chance to focus on you, you simply pass them by, leaving their perceived negative stares and opinions behind.

Like all forms of exercise, running will release the body’s natural feel good chemicals, known as endorphins. Getting a daily dose of these will naturally help to lift your mood and think in a happier, positive manner that’s vital for banishing the low moods of social anxiety for good.

Read more about why exercise helps reduce social anxiety

jogging to reduce social anxiety
Handsome man with dumbbells

18. Weight training

A healthy body means a healthy mind. Daily visits to the ‘iron palace’ can be a great way of boosting your self confidence. Getting in shape will also give you positive goals to pursue and to visually experience the satisfaction that comes from progress.

As with every tactic, you can start small with a basic weight set at home and progress to joining your local gym when you feel ready. You’ll be surprised to find that today’s gym’s arent filled with meat heads all competing on how much they lift and comparing biceps in the mirror. Getting in shape is a habit people from all walks of life now enjoy and use to better themselves and feel in control of their life’s direction.

19. Social hobbies

Binge watching House of Cards or marathon video game sessions may be wonderful escapism. But locking yourself in your room is only going to delay your entry to a more fulfilling life.

Instead, consider taking up new hobbies or interests which involve some interaction with other people. Joining a local hiking group is a personal favourite of mine. You can talk to other people as little or as much as you want to. It also gets you outdoors enjoying mother nature and releasing those feel good endorphins. You may surprise yourself with how much more you are engaging with people by the end of the hike, as the sense of camaraderie seeps in.

Other options include volunteering for a local charity (particularly if you love animals), joining a book club or cycling. Meetup and Facebook can be great places to look for local groups to join and fun activities to lift your mindset and mood.

lost

20. Improve your confidence at speaking with video chats

Right now you may only been comfortable speaking to people you know well and will avoid speaking to strangers. The only way to change this is to build your confidence having conversations, one chat at a time.

Building healthy relationships requires the ability to communicate clearly and intelligently. These are skills you will need to work on if you want to connect better with others and to grow out of social phobia for good.

If you’re into online gaming, you could start by switching the mic on your headset. Then when you’re ready to go up a level, there are plenty of video chat services you can use, such as omegle.com or randomstrangervideochat.com, which allow you to have casual conversations with strangers. These are people you will never meet in real life, and you can always pull the plug whenever you want. So there really is no drawback to using them to build your speaking skills.

21. Consider deleting your Facebook profile

Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch with old school friends and new acquaintances. But it does have its negative side.

People tend to cultivate online personas that project their lives in the most favourable light. Many project the impression that their lives as a succession of parties, holidays and laughter, which can feel like looking through a window onto a world that looks alien to you.

If the bombardment of images and updates from someone’s profile is getting you down, consider unfollowing them. Or take a break from Facebook altogether. Allow yourself some time to focus on moving your own life forward, and then rejoin when you feel ready to share it with the world.

Dislike. Thumb down sign

22. Follow positive and inspiring people in social media

As you disengage with negative influences in your life, find positive people to motivate you instead. The beauty of social media is that it enables you to find out how successful think and motivate themselves. Following them on Twitter or Facebook allows you to tap into their mindset and use it to influence your own.

Along with following famous people in topics that interest you, consider adding people like Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy and The Rock to your newsfeeds to raise your sense of positivity and to develop your own success driven mindset.

23. Read books and watch videos about positive thinking

Along with learning as much as you can about social phobia and cognitive behavioural therapy, to address low moods and negative thoughts it helps to fill your mind with positive ways of thinking.

It’s often said that we get what we think we deserve in life. Our mindset goes a long way to defining how we experience the world, how we process information and our ways of thinking. This then helps to dictate the quality of our lives and our relationships with others.

As a human being you are always evolving. You can choose what sort of person you want to evolve into. Learning how to think in a more positive, proactive manner can go a long way to taking your thoughts and behaviour in the right direction.

Positive Videos for Inspiration

24. Read books or watch videos about successful people who overcame adversity

People who are successful or overcame great challenges often didn’t do it by accident or an extraordinary run of good luck. Success in any form nearly always occurs as a result of their mindset and determination to succeed against the odds.

Reading how Richard Branson became a billionaire despite coming close to bankruptcy, how Henri Charriere survived, how Louis Zamperini was driven to the limits of human endurance in WW2 or how Stephen Hawking continues to write books, give lectures and push the frontiers of how we perceive the universe despite being a paraplegic are all life stories that can provide you with the inspiration to overcome your own adversity in life.

branson

papillon

unbroken

25. Take an online course in self improvement

Online learning has the potential to revolutionise education and spread literacy levels to disadvantaged communities around the world. It can also help you to develop your social skills from the comfort of your bedroom.

There are lots of free and paid courses that can help you to improve your assertiveness, anger management or positive thinking. Or you can advance your knowledge in a subject that interests you. The key here is that taking an online course will keep you active and doing something productive, and working towards your goal of self improving so your social anxiety reduces.

Self improvement courses worth checking out:

Anxiety Therapy
Assertiveness Training
Improve Your Self Esteem
Social Psychology
Positive Psychology

26. Learn to cook

If you want to raise your self esteem and self confidence, it helps to start setting higher standards for yourself. Brushing up your culinary skills can improve both the quality of meals and develop many other skills beyond chopping vegetables..

Being able to cook well requires attention to detail, doing things properly instead of taking short cuts and experiencing the satisfaction that comes from progress. These are skills and mindsets you can apply to other areas of your life to become a better version of you.

Woman cooking next to laptop
Sleeping walking

27. Get more sleep

Not getting enough shut eye makes you feel tired and irritable. It can also make you more prone to the physical and mental symptoms of social anxiety.

Getting to sleep can be easier said than done when you’re battling with low moods. You can, however, take proactive steps to help your mind and body relax so that it’s easier to drift off to sleep. This can include listening to white noise, meditation, observing good sleep hygiene and avoiding stimulants, like alcohol of coffee, late at night.

Plenty more tips on getting more sleep on this site:

www.helpmesleep.us

28. Have a healthy morning routine

Having a set routine every morning can be a great way to set yourself up for the rest of the day. This can include setting your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier so you have time to go for a work or to go to the gym before work, to meditate or any other positive activity that is going to help you advance in life.

Having a healthy morning routine can put you in the right frame of mind to make the rest of your day a happier, more relaxed experience.

getting over social anxiety
tape measure wrapped around fruits isolated on white background

29. Improve your diet

Eating a balanced diet with more fruit and veg and less chips and fizzy drinks will not only prolong your life but also provide a gradual releases of energy throughout the day. Food packed with sugar and preservatives can give you bursts of energy, but you’ll then find yourself flagging later on. This then leaves you vulnerable to feeling low and more prone to raised levels of social phobia.

Eating healthy food will also give you the energy to exercise every day, and run that extra 10 minutes or lift that extra 5kg. In fact, eating healthily can be a magic ingredient to feeling good about yourself and the world around you.

alcohol and social anxiety

30. Give up or reduce how much you drink

Drinking before meeting friends or attending any sort of social gathering is common among people who suffer from social anxiety. But relying on alcohol as a way to relax is a just a coping mechanism. It’s a band aid rather than a solution. It can also lead to an unhealthy dependence and a more severe drinking problem.

Much like giving up smoking, try to gradually reduce how much you drink before going out. Better yet, aspire for a time when you’re happy to socialise supping on a fruit juice instead.

31. Give up smoking

You may think smoking helps you feel relaxed. But it can actually make you more anxious and cause your social phobia to peak at the worst moment. Despite what some say about their grandparent who smoked all his life and died at the ripe old age of 82, smoking is more likely to cause cancer, deteriorating health and decades taken off your life.

So make a decision that’s going to reduce your social anxiety, improve your life expectancy and save you a lot of money. Buy some inhalators and stub out for good.

32. Change your career if it isn’t making you happy

We spend more time at work than we do with our friends and family. While it’s true that work is often a necessary evil to pay the bills, having a job you enjoy and find satisfying can have a massive impact of your enjoyment of life and your happiness.

If you find your job boring and uninspiring, it’s because you’re not challenging yourself enough. Consider what your personal strengths are and what you enjoy doing, and then find a job that will fulfill those interests. Work out what steps you’ll need to take to get that job, whether it’s getting some qualifications, studying an online course or improving your interview skills, and make it a future goal to work towards.

Clearly, overcoming or at least reducing your social anxiety may be part of the puzzle you need to solve to get the job you want. But that doesn’t mean you have to put your career aspirations on the backburner. Instead pursue progress in both chasing the job of your dreams and addressing your anxiety at the same time.

bored

33. Develop new interests or expand on your existing ones

Living a rich life doesn’t have to revolve around what’s in the bank account. Instead it can be built around the pastimes and interests you fill it with. Having lots of hobbies and interests keeps you motivated and occupied with pursuing fulfilling goals, instead of whiling away the hours in front of the TV.

What’s more, it will help shape you into a more interesting person and present opportunities to form new friendships with people that share your interests.

34. Join social anxiety forums and interact with members

Discovering that social anxiety was a diagnosable condition was a light switching on moment for me. It meant that I wasn’t the only person to feel like this. There wasn’t something wrong with my brain and I wasn’t doomed to be like this forever.

Joining social anxiety forums will help you to realise that you’re not alone, and that thousands, if not millions, of people are affected by social phobia all over the world. It will also connect you with people that understand what you’re dealing with provide you with a source of support as you strive to self improve.

Social anxiety forums:

Social Anxiety Support

Social Anxiety Community

Social Phobia World

Young friends clinking glasses night restaurant

35. Attend a Meetup or Couchsurfing event

If you’ve been suffering from social anxiety for a long time you may have lost contact with previous friends and found it difficult to find new ones.

Walking into a room of people you don’t know can seem very daunting. But the advantage of attending a Meetup or Couchsurfing event is that everyone else is in the same position. The likelihood is that most people at the event will be meeting for the first time, and may also be feeling nervous. Everyone is there to meet new people. Not to form cliques or to criticise those in attendance.

Couchsurfing, in particular, is attended by backpackers and travellers who are some of the least judgemental and the friendliest people you’ll meet. No matter how nervous or self conscious you feel, they’ll be happy to engage you in conversation and meet you halfway.

After attending a few Couchsurfing or Meetup events you’ll be amazed what a confidence boost it provides.

36. Create a Meetup or a Couchsurfing event

Once you’ve attended a few Meetups and Couchsurfing events, consider taking another step up the ladder and create your own. This could be something simple like hiking through a local forest, going to the cinema or meeting for dinner. The benefit of putting on an event is that it puts you in charge and gives you a chance to further develop your communication skills and build a new social circle of friends.

37. Start internet dating

I can appreciate romance might seem like a pipedream right now. Like something that happens in movies and for people who’ve never had to stuggle with social problems in their life. But finding people to go on dates with has never been easier. You dont have to go to bars, think of clever lines in clubs or face the humiliation of trying to approach the girl who gets the same bus as you every day.

Internet dating has opened up a world of new possibilities. It allows people who may be timid or shy to connect with other people on their wavelength without having to do battle in the jungle of weekend nightlife.

When creating your profile make sure you choose appealing photos, ideally smiling naturally and outdoors doing some sort of activity. Your profile will get the best response if you can can project yourself in a positive light and focus on your strengths and interests. There’s no point in being fake or exaggerating. This will won’t match you with people you’ll get on well with in real life.

Be prepared to send plenty of emails and try a few different apps and sites. When you do connect with someone you think is a good match, spend some time getting to know them by email, instant messenger or even on the phone. This will enable you to build rapport and a sense of connection so that when you meet it doesn’t feel like meeting a stranger but someone you’ve already started getting to know. You’ll also have a list of topics of conversation ready to go in advance.

man and woman dating at restaurant

If you think your dating skills need some brushing up, add this to the list of areas where you want to improve. There’s no shortage of books and videos that can help you in adding some romance to your life and making the world a more pleasurable place to be.

38. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

NLP has its cynics (myself included until recently). But if you are experiencing success with cognitive behavioural therapy and want to take rewiring your brain to another level, NLP is worth investigating.

NLP focuses on identifying the reasons why you behave in a certain way and then provides a structure for learning more helpful ways of thinking and behaving. Just like with cognitive behavioural therapy, NLP has been proven to be very effective for treating phobias, trauma and removing mental blocks through anchoring more positive thoughts and emotions to the things you fear.

You can study NLP on your own or with a NLP practitioner to identify the cause of your social anxiety and to give you new mental tools for overcoming it.

How to Eliminate Unwanted Thoughts

talking about social anxiety

39. Allow other people to do the talking

You arent the only person in a conversation. It involves two or more people. When talking to people you’re not giving a speech for them to listen and nod in agreement. Try not to feel pressured to do all the talking, allow others to share the responsibility.

If you’re ever stuck for things to say, remember that most people’s favourite topic is themselves. Ask questions about their day was, how work is going or what their plans are for the weekend. Then all you need to do is nod politely and wait for them to return the gesture.

40. Enjoy the process and the results will come

Overcoming social anxiety is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long-term strategy that requires patience and persistence before you can expect results. For this reason, it’s best to plan where you want to be in a few years time, rather than months.

Success in improving your self esteem and reducing your social phobia comes from making small, incremental steps. It’s like building a wall, with every improvement adding another layer until social phobia has been locked away in a place where it can no longer affect you.

While overcoming social anxiety, take satisfaction in the progress you’re making and enjoy the sense of achievement that comes from making small improvements in different areas of your life. Whether it’s in your exercise routine, your culinary skills or your growing self confidence talking to people, feed off your accomplishments, no matter how small, and be patient on your journey.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. But it was built.

Deep breathing business man

When self-help for social anxiety isn’t enough

The severity and symptoms of social anxiety vary a lot. So if the self help suggestions in this guide aren’t enough, and social anxiety is continuing to hold you back in life, you may need to adopt a different strategy.

Doctor and patient discussing

Visit your doctor

As always when suffering from a condition that’s adversely affecting your life, your doctor is your first port of call. A lot more is understood about depression and anxiety these days, and your doctor will be able to recommend a sensible course of action. This could include putting you in touch with a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders to address the negative thought processes combined with medication to sooth the physical symptoms.

Group therapy

Another option may be group therapy for social skills training. Sessions for social anxiety disorder can entail playacting, mock interviews and other exercises that allow you to practice social engagement in more controlled and reassuring settings. This will then help you feel less anxious when encountering strangers in the real world. The more you practice the easier socialising will become and the less afraid you’ll be.

Medication

I’d love to be able to tell you there’s a magic pill that makes your social anxiety vanish in minutes. But none exists. Medication on its own can’t cure your deep rooted beliefs that are driving your social anxiety. All it can do is relieve its symptoms.

Medication is most effective when used in combination with cognitive behavioural therapy and the other strategies in this guide. It will allow you to climb your ladder of anxious situations, to exercise in public and to feel more relaxed in job interviews without the pounding heartbeat and hyper awareness of social phobia.

But ultimately you must address the unhelpful thought processes if you are to overcome social anxiety disorder for good.

Two common types of medication used for treating social anxiety disorder:

Antidepressants – These should only ever be taken after consulting with a doctor and are only advised for when social anxiety disorder is severe and debilitating. The problem with antidepressants is that you can form a dependency on them to improve your mood. Even worse, if you stop taking them suddenly in can cause your depression to return like a crashing tsunami. Always make sure you consult with your doctor on changes in your progress at all times.

Beta blockers – Beta blockers are normally taken to reduce high blood pressure. They also help to treat social anxiety by blocking the flow of adrenaline that’s released when you’re anxious. Beta blockers won’t improve your mood but they can reduce the physical symptoms, such as shakiness, sweating, and slow down your heartbeat.

top of the mountain

Finding your own path to overcoming social anxiety disorder

I hope you find the advice in this guide has encouraged you to adopt a strategic approach to overcoming social anxiety. Through taking steps to improve your thought processes, to raise your self esteem and to live a more active life you can find your way to feeling better about yourself and the world around you.

The strategies in this guide all helped me on my own path towards reducing my social anxiety to an extent where it no longer holds me back in life. They are also lifestyle habits that I continue to practice to be a better version of myself.

Overcoming social anxiety isnt easy and requires a lot of practice, patience and persistence. But it’s not something you have to live with. It can be just a difficult phase you’ve had to get through before being able to live a more fulfilling life filled with positive interactions with other people.

The final thought I’ll leave you with is that the mindset and skills you’ll develop through overcoming social anxiety can help you for the rest of your life. Setting higher standards for yourself, experiencing the satisfaction that comes from progress and knowing that you have the ability to triumph over adversity will help you overcome any more problems or struggles that come your way. You’ll be better equipped to get what you want out of life and realising that changing the way you think can change the way you feel.

I wish you luck in your journey and if you’ve found the advice in this guide useful you’ll consider sharing it with other people you think it will help.

All the best,

Matt
matt(at)socialanxietydisorder.org.uk

Disclaimer

I am not a psychologist, behavioural therapist or medical professional of any kind. This guide offers advice only and is not a replacement for professional help. If social anxiety disorder is adversely affecting your life and causing you serious discomfort then you should always consult a trained medical professional.

All the suggestions in this guide are purely that – suggestions. I accept no liability for any injury or psychological discomfort that should arise in practicing any of them and all suggestions are carried out at your own risk.

Legal speak aside, all the strategies in this guide have helped me to reduce my social phobia to an extent where it doesn’t hold me back in life. Taking steps to feel about yourself and the world around you can only help you to eventually leave social anxiety behind, no matter how small the steps.

jogging to reduce social anxiety

If you suffer from social anxiety then the idea of jogging around a park might seem daunting. But I’ve always highly recommended that regular exercise should be a key component of your strategy to overcoming social anxiety. It gets you out of the house and regular exercise of at least 30 minutes every day will release endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel good chemicals that can banish the negative thoughts driving your social anxiety in the first place.

And it appears that doctors would tend to agree with me. A Glasgow University survey found that jogging around a park is twice as effective at improving your mental health and sense of well being then exercising in a gym. After all, who wants to spend 30 minutes looking at the wall or watching MTV when you can be enjoying the visual sounds and smells of mother nature.

You can read more about the survey in this article in the Daily Telegraph, which also goes on to explain how exercise is recommended for treating symptoms like mild depression, insomnia, high stress and just anxious feelings that you arent able to cope.

I believe that starting to exercise every day was one of the vital keys to how I overcame social anxiety. I started off jogging and now go trekking (or bouldering to be exact), rock climbing, play football and go to the gym. So dont be afraid of starting off your exercise routine small and then building it up as you go along your path towards overcoming social anxiety for good.

Originally posted 2012-06-20 18:04:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

exercising to reduce social anxiety disorder

We’re told all the time about the benefits of being active. Working out makes you fit, builds muscle and helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle. There have been countless studies on the advantages of exercise and what it can do for your body. In fact, many clinical psychologists use exercise as a key part of their treatment for depression, general anxiety and the more specific social anxiety disorder.

This is because research has proven that exercising on a regular basis may boost a depressed person’s outlook and thought processes by helping them adopt a meaningful activity that provides a sense of accomplishment. It can provide you with something worthwhile in your life and help raise your self worth as well as improve your self confidence. Better yet, it gives you a new perspective on how to approach your problems in a goal driven manner.

If you’re not already convinced of the benefits of exercise for overcoming social anxiety disorder, here are 8 reasons why exercise can make you feel better and reduce your social phobia as a result:

1. Reduce Stress

Perhaps the most common mental benefit of exercise is stress relief. If you are having a rough day, at home or in your office, then taking time out to exercise can work wonders. Whether you’re up to working out at the gym or would prefer to stroll through a quiet park, taking a break to exercise can help free your mind from the daily chaos of busy life. It’s believed that exercise increases norepinephrine, which is a chemical that can help the brain deal with stress more efficiently and focus better.

2. Boost Happy Chemicals

In severe cases, social anxiety disorder may be treated with antidepressant medication. However, some cases studies have shown that working out may be just as effective as antidepressant medication. A certain chemical called “dopamine” plays a huge role as a neurotransmitter in the brain that is required for feelings of pleasure and happiness, and the best way to increase dopamine production is to exercise.

3. Improve Self-Confidence

Having low self esteem will have a negative effect on all areas of our life. Your relationships are at risk as well as your career and your life aspirations. Working out helps you to feel better physically and mentally, and to develop the positive attitude and emotional stamina needed to take on personal goals and overcome the negative thoughts that drive social anxiety disorder.

4. Enjoy the Great Outdoors

If you don’t fancy going to a gym, then you can exercise in the great outdoors.  Instead of running on your treadmill, why not run a few laps around your neighborhood or go to the nearest park where you get to enjoy the scenery, get fresh air, notice the changing seasons, weather and enjoy nature. Getting much exposure outside under the sun has lots of benefits like Vitamin D that can lighten your mood and  reduce social anxiety disorder symptoms. Aside from that, studies suggest that you can burn more calories when you exercise outdoors.

5. Prevent Cognitive Decline

Age is one of the factors why we go through a cognitive decline. Our brains will gradually become less precise and cloudy over time. Diseases like Alzheimer’s are becoming worryingly more common in old age, where you lose primary brain functions like memory. Exercise can help avoid  cognitive decline out might help in preventing  to prevent the risk of developing Alzheimer’s as we aged. Exercise paired with a balance diet helps improve memory and keeps your thinking, reasoning and learning skills sharp.

6. Alleviate Feelings of Social Anxiety

When you work out or jog for just a few minutes, warm and fuzzy chemicals called endorphine are released during and after your workout which can help you to think in a calmer, more positive manner that naturally helps to reduce the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings of social anxiety disorder.

7. Get More Done

According to some research, people who manage to include workout as their daily habit are more productive and enthusiastic than their inactive peers. No matter how busy your schedule gets, always take time to exercise whether it’s first thing in the morning, in your lunch break or after work to stay more focused on a daily basis.

8. Form New Friendships

Finding a workout buddy is a good way to push yourself when training and to form a new friendship. As well as helping to motivate you when you feel too lazy to exercise, having a workout buddy gives you an opportunity to socialize without being under pressure to be entertaining, to have something interesting to say or any of the other false pressures you might put on yourself if you suffer from social anxiety disorder.

From my own personal experience, I can tell you that regular exercise was one of the key components of my strategy for overcoming social anxiety. The combination of setting yourself new goals, the sense of satisfaction from seeing the improvements in my health and the regular boost of endorphines was crucial in boosting my self esteem and reducing my anxiety of social situations.

So I highly recommend that you dig out some trainers or look up some fitness routines on YouTube and improving your health while reducing your social anxiety at the same time.

Originally posted 2014-10-12 18:08:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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social media and social anxiety

For some people socializing, business meetings and dating is no big deal. They get through it in a breeze. Some even love and enjoy the challenge of the unknown, their self confidence gives them that sense of assurance that nothing could go wrong especially if you are going on your first date.

But for some people who have social anxiety disorder, the thought of going to a crowded place to meet your date is scary. A lot of panicky thoughts will keep on hammering in your head. Worrying about what dress you are going to wear, the things that you will say and even the food you are going to order are just one of the million things that will creep inside your mind. Of course, you always want to keep your best foot forward and learn about your date as much as possible and one way is by looking them up on Facebook.

A new study have emerged that suggests looking up dates on Facebook actually causes increased anxiety and not comfort. The study is published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking suggests that screening someone’s Facebook beforehand might compound anxiety, particularly if you already have a mild social anxiety. The study, led by Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Shannon Rauch, conducted last year questioned 26 female undergraduate students at the same time as testing for levels of social anxiety.

Social media has its benefits for people with social anxiety disorder

If you are living with social anxiety for a quiet a long time, the thought of dating is just too much to handle for me. That’s why I love Yahoo messenger, msn and Skype they are the best way for me to meet my special someone before the actual date. Being able to chat beforehand gives you a better idea of what the person like and dislike. You can also find a lot of potential conversations starters once you get to the actual date.

But you can never trust anyone online, some people could take advantage of the system.

Do not let social media dictate your opinion of your date, getting to know your date face to face is the best way to know someone rather than snooping on social media, which will just induce prejudgments. Keep your perspective, do not let your fear overcome your date. It shouldn’t be as scary as you thought it should be. You are dating that person because you like to know him/her. You are interviewing your potential girlfriend/boyfriend as much as they are interviewing you.

So take a deep breath and concentrate on the present. Focus your attention outward on what he/she is saying rather on yourself and stop worrying about what will happen. After all, there’s plenty more fish in the sea and many more people you can date

Originally posted 2014-08-18 22:43:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Deep breathing business man

You may not think about breathing during the day because it is automatic. But while we do it involuntarily,  breathing is the bridge between our mind and body and a key to our health and wellness. Oxygen is vital to help our brains function properly and assess situations objectively. For this reason, learning how to regulate and improve your breathing can help you stay relaxed when you can sense your social anxiety prickling your self consciousness.

Breathing is also one of the five principles of yoga, as breathing brings more oxygen to the blood and to the brain and helps the prevention of major diseases and cure minor illness. Breathing is also a good way to get rid of waste products and toxins from our body.

It needs to be noted that the effects of breathing techniques on social anxiety disorder have not been studied in a controlled clinical setting. But many experts encourage those who have social anxiety to incorporate breathing exercises into their therapy, as breathing exercises helps reduce self consciousness and increases more relaxed state of mindfulness.

Whether you are on your bed, your office or even when out in public, deep breathing can help to reduce feelings of stress and panic. The following breathing exercises can help  you keep calm and carry on with your day.

1. Equal Breathing or Sama Vritti

This is a good breathing exercise for beginners. One major benefit of Sama Vritti is its ability to calm the body and focus the mind.
How it’s done:

• Choose a comfortable sitting position and cross your legs.
• Close your eyes and focus on your natural breathing.
• Slowly count to four as you inhale and also count to four when you exhale.
• Continue this breathing exercise for a few minutes, you can also experiment on increasing the counting.

This breathing technique is particularly effective before going to bed. So if you have a hard time sleeping, instead of counting sheep try doing this breathing exercise.

2. Abdominal Breathing Technique

This is considered as a deep breathing exercise, the single most important coping technique for panic disorder or social phobia.
How It’s done:

• Place your one hand on your chest and the other on your belt line.
• Your hands tell you what part of your body and what muscles you are using to breathe.
• Take a deep breath through your nose to ensure that your diaphragm inflates enough air to stretch the lungs.
• Take a pause, you decide whatever time feels comfortable to resume.
• Open your mouth. Exhale through your mouth by pulling your belly in.
• Pause again.
• Continue and repeat the process as you wish.

You can do this any time and any place comfortable for you. This is a good stress reliever before any major exams or a nerve wrecking presentation you are about to take when you fear your social anxiety may be about to kick in and you need to calm it down.

3. Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing

This is a simple but powerful technique that deeply relaxes your mind and body.
How It’s Done:

• Sit in a comfortable crosslegged position.
• Use your right hand. Hold your thumb over your right nostril.
• Inhale deeply through your left nostril.
• When you are at the peak of your inhalation, close of your left nostril with your third and fourth fingers, and then exhale smoothly through your right nostril.
• Inhale through your left nostril.
• Continue alternating the process 5 to 10 times.

If you want to refocus your mind into something or re energize, this is the right technique for that. Just don’t try this before going to bed, because it has the tendency to keep people awake.

4. Kapalabhati or “Skull Shining Breath”

Also considered as pranayama practice, which means a purification and preparation exercise before doing pranayama proper.
How It’s Done:

• Sit in a comfortable position on a mat or chair.
• Rest your hands on your knees.
• Gently close your eyes.
• Breathe normally for some time.
• Exhale once every two or three seconds for about ten to twelve times in the first round.
• Notice how the inhale happens automatically.
• Wait 30-60 seconds with everyday breathing to see how things are going.
• Do one to three rounds of 10-12 breaths (exhales) each.
• Relax with normal breathing.

It’s best to do this after you wake up every morning, it will warm up you up and shake off that musty energy and wake up the brain. However, if you are suffering from cardial problems, nasal obstruction, cold or any severe respiratory infection, it is better to consult your doctor first.

5. Progressive Relaxation Technique

This is the best technique when you want to reduce your overall body tension.

How It’s Done:
• Close your eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group from your body for two to three seconds each.
• Start with the feet and toes, move up to the knees, thighs, rear, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw and eyes. Make sure to maintain deep, slow breaths all throughout the process.
• To keep on track you can breathe in through the nose while the muscles tense, then breathe out through the mouth on release.

You can do this for just 5 minutes if you go for the shortened version, you just need a comfortable place, some privacy and a few minutes of your time.

6. Visualization Breathing Exercises

This is not only found to be great as a social anxiety stress reliever but is also often used  to heal on minor ailments like headaches and pains.
How It’s Done:

• Close Your Eyes and Relax. Let your breathing get become slower and deeper.
• Practice Stress Relief breathing. Breathe from your diaphragm or belly instead of from your shoulders.
• Visualize. As you breathe in, imagine that relaxation is coming into your body and flowing through your limbs, reaching every part of you. When you exhale, imagine that all the stress from your body is being exhaled. After a few minutes, you should feel fuller of peace and the stress in your body should be reduced.
• Keep Breathing. You can continue this exercise for five or twenty minutes and helps you return to your normal activities with a renewed sense of strength and serenity.

This breathing exercise is very helpful for those who are having trouble sleeping.

These six different exercises can provide you with welcome relief at any time during the day. So if you start to feel socially anxious at work or in a public place, allow yourself to take 5 minutes to practice breathing properly and allow the oxygen work its magic in helping you feel calmer and more relaxed.

Originally posted 2014-09-30 15:04:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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