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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

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

talking about social anxiety

image credit: *clairity* with Creative Commons License

Following the recent suicide of the award winning comedian actor Robin Williams, UK rap star Professor Green recounted the events of how his own father took the same dark path as Williams. Professor Green’s story is about his father’s death is heartbreaking but at the same time raises awareness on the need to start a wider discussion about depression and reaching out for help. The British rapper, whose real name is Stephen Manderson, expresses his regret of not having to say his final goodbye and tell his father the things that mattersed. He further discusses how he suffers with his own depression and urges everyone to be open about it.

If we take a look at a recent statistics in Britain alone, suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 and 49, which is more than cancer, road accidents and heart disease. Even though women are more likely to suffer from depression but they actually are more open to seek help when they feel they are feeling low and depressed. Men on the other hand find it hard to express themselves and tend to keep all their troubling thoughts inside. It is sad to say that most men have been brought up to believe that showing emotion could be a sign of weakness and not how a man should behave. They control their emotions to show their mental strength as since childhood they’ve been told to “suck it up like a real man”.

Speaking about personal problems is healthier than bottling them inside

I think men are as emotional as women. A real man doesn’t have to fake that he is hurting inside. If you are suffering from depression caused by social anxiety or feeling stressed out about work, family and relationships, it’s always healthier to express yourself with your friends and to those whom you trust.

You can ask for a professional help if you are afraid to be judged by your close friends. There are other forums and organizations that can provide you with support and advice, such as:

http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/

http://www.social-anxiety-community.org/

http://www.socialphobiaworld.com/

Suicide has been regarded as a sign of moral and mental weakness. But in order to overcome this weakness, you have to be strong enough to express yourself and stop suffering in silence. Remember – if social anxiety or depression is adversely affecting your life you should always get professional advice from a doctor, GP or psychological therapist.

 

Originally posted 2014-08-25 19:33:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Deep breathing to reduce social anxiety disorder

meditation cc by iandeth

Along with food and water, giving your body a supply of air is essential for maintaining your heath and well being. If you’re not breathing properly then this can cause imbalances in your blood and affect the way your body behaves.

Poor breathing can cause dizziness, shortness of breath and shaking, which are all too familiar symptoms if you suffer from anxiety or panic.

The key is to learn how to breathe deeply in a natural manner that fills your stomach and rib cage, as well as the top part of your chest, and it can be practiced using simple exercises throughout the day.

Why is breathing properly so important?

Breathing regulates the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. Too much oxygen can cause you to feel agitated and nervous, whilst too much carbon dioxide might calm you temporarily but it can make you feel light headed and distort your responses.

Instead you should practice being able to breath deeply and naturally so that your body can maintain a healthy balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide and behave healthily.

Deep breathing is practiced as part of Tai Chi, Yoga and other forms of meditation due to its effectiveness in helping you think and behave in a clear, healthy manner.

The benefits of breathing properly include:

  • Release tension in your neck, chest and diaphragm
  • Reduce anxiety and panic by having a healthier balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood so you can think and behave in a calmer, clearer manner
  • Reduce build up of stress and tension throughout the day
  • When practicing as part of a meditation exercise, breathing can divert your attention from stressful, unhelpful thoughts
  • Exhaling for longer than you inhale will help you to relax

Why just take a deep breath is bad advice

We’ve all heard the advice to take a deep breath when we’re feeling stressed or anxious. However, the problem is that most people interpret this as taking rapid breaths, rather than deep, natural breathing that fills our stomach, as well as our upper chest.

Rapid breathing can simply imbalance the oxygen in your blood, causing you to feel more agitated and nervous. Deep natural breathing is slow and calm, rather than rapidly gulping down oxygen.

So how do I practice deep breathing?

Here are a few breathing exercises you can practice to train your body to keep a healthy balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide, as well as help to reduce stress, panic and anxiety:

Sigh Breath

Take a moderate breathe through your nose and then slowly exhale, prolonging your exhale for longer than your inhale.

As you exhale try and relax the muscles in your face and shoulders to release any built up tension.

When you next inhale, try and divert your attention to the sights and sounds around you without passing judgement on your thoughts but just letting them flow

This breathing technique works well with mindfulness meditation because it focuses your thoughts away from whatever stresses you’re feeling that day.

Sigh breathing can be practiced whenever you’ve got a spare minute or two throughout the day, and can help you learn to regulate your breathing.

Easy Breathing

  • focus on only your breathing for 3-4 minutes.
  • Ignore everything around you other than your breathing
  • move your chest and diaphragm in harmony so that you’re breathing naturally, rather than forced
  • concentrating on your breathing in this way will divert your thoughts from your anxiety and stress

4-7-8 Breathing

  • inhale for four seconds, hold it in for seven seconds then slowly release your breath for eight seconds
  • As you exhale release the anxiety , stress and tension from your muscles, shoulder and face
  • this exercise helps you to exhale for longer than you inhale, which can help your body relax if you’re feeling nervous
  • you could practice this at any time, whether on public transport, waiting in a cue or when you’re just at home to help calm your breathing

There are plenty of other breathing exercises you can practice which you can learn more about from books and other resources on the net.

Healthy breathing is an important part of coping with and reducing social anxiety, so try a few different breathing exercises to find which ones work best for you and in which situations.

Originally posted 2008-08-27 15:39:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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dancing

[Picture courtesy of a4gpa]

Following on from previous articles, in which I discussed assertiveness and how to say ‘no’, I’m now going to discuss why you should add negotiation to your growing list of skills. As with overcoming many of the symptoms of social anxiety, negotiation is about maintaining a balance between being fair to yourself and fair to others.

Learn how to change your steps

Social interaction is like an intricate dance. When people want you to think or behave in a certain way they’ll perform steps, using persuasive language and gestures, for you to follow.

If you suffer from social anxiety then you probably fall in the trap of either being too passive, and obediently following their lead, or too aggressive, and refusing to dance altogether.

Being too passive or aggressive are not helpful modes of behaviour. If you’re infected with the ‘disease to please’ then people will take you for granted and might push you around. Whilst getting mad makes it difficult to think and behave logically, hampering your ability to persuade people why they should respect your opinions and priorities.

Learning to negotiate is about learning to nimbly change your dance steps so that you can prompt others to change theirs and have more control over your interactions.

It’s not about winning or losing

Social anxiety is driven by thinking errors that result from low self esteem and negative thinking. One of the common thinking errors is ‘all or nothing’ in which you believe that you and others must behave in a certain way. So if you have a disagreement with someone and want them to change their mind you think that you must persuade them to meet your demands or they’ve won.

It’s a mistake to think that life is about winning or losing. This extreme, inflexible approach is unhelpful and unrealistic. Demanding that other people should always fit in with your priorities, such as agreeing to immediately perform a task for you at work or walk your dog when you’re on holiday, is only going to lead to stress and frustration when people don’t meet your unrealistic expectations.

Instead of making demands that people must fit in with what you want, you should offer some leeway and be prepared to negotiate.

Successful negotiation is about being fair to yourself and fair to others in finding a solution in which you can both, at least partially, get what you want. Finding a balanced agreement is the constructive approach, rather than getting angry or frustrated from thinking that you have to get the better of the other person.

Try asking work colleagues what other priorities they have to attend to before they can perform your task, or arrange to split the dog walking with another neighbour.

Negotiation is finding a solution in which you both gain

When you enter into negotiation, whether it’s with work colleagues or friends, don’t try to get what you want by being aggressive, manipulative or demanding. Instead approach it as an intricate dance in which you’re trying to influence the outcome, but are also prepared to change your own steps to compliment your partner.

Negotiation is about finding a solution in which you both can gain, rather than an ugly confrontation in which you must either win or lose.

Originally posted 2008-05-19 12:37:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

meditation for social anxiet ydisorder

From A-list celebrities to yoga mommies to top executives, all sort of people now use mediation to reduce their stress and anxiety. Meditation has ancient traditions, believed to have been first practiced by the Buddhist monks in Thailand as a path toward enlightenment and Nirvana. It helps to clear the mind and recognise troubling thoughts as merely passing traffic or leaves in the wind. For this reason, mindfulness meditation is highly recommended therapy for people who are suffering from social anxiety disorder, just like me.

It’s become easier than ever to try meditation with lots of new meditation apps you can download onto your smartphone or tablet, so you can help relax your mind and work towards reducing your social anxiety in a spare 10 minutes during the day.

If you’ve never tried it before, here’s my list of the top 5 best meditation apps that I personally recommend for reducing social anxiety disorder:

1. Relax Melodies

This app is great you’re suffering from a bout of insomnia. It lets you customize your own sleep soundtrack and save it for future use. The images, scenery of nature and breathtaking landscapes that the app provides will help you calm your brain and drift you off into slumber. The soothing sounds from the Relax Melodies app will gently lull you to sleep. Best to listen with good headphones or speakers, no interruption whatsoever from your surroundings and it would just take 10 minutes where your mind turns into meditative state.

2. Buddhist Meditation Trainer

The app is designed to serve as your daily reminder and to help you remain accountable to your meditation practice. It is definitely great if you want a moment of peace and take a few minutes of time out from your busy day. This app is your personal trainer for relaxing and enlightening meditation. It features 10 levels of enlightenment with deeper quotes to meditate on in every level.

3. Simply Being

The app is a meditation guide that will help you to stay on your present state, pushing those unwanted thoughts out of your mind through a calming voice from the app which will guide through your meditation session and help you find calm more quickly. You can select from 5 up to 20 minutes of meditation time. Simply Being App is simple, effective and quick to start. This is really helpful for those suffering wild mild panic attacks at night.

4. The Mindfulness App

Like Simply Being, this meditation apps is a straightforward and simple guided meditation sessions which can span from 3 to 30 minutes. Combined with modern technology and the ancient wisdom of mindfulness to get in contact of ourselves. Rather than letting your smartphones as a source of interruption or disruption in our lives. The mindfulness app converts your phone into an oasis of presents and tranquility.

5. Breathe2Relax

This is like a portable stress management device which caters detailed information on the effects of stress on the body as well as instructions and practice exercises. This is a great tool for professionals who are under a lot of stress at work and slow things down. If you are having a bad day at work, school or wherever let the Breathe2Relax app guide you through breathing sessions. You will find a better mood after a few minutes of simply following its instructions.

So if you’ve never tried mediation to reduce your social anxiety, I highly recommend downloading one of these to 5 best meditation apps and giving it a go. There are also lots of meditation videos on YouTube with soothing music, like this one…

Originally posted 2014-09-10 23:03:44. 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

 

Think positive

Since embarking on my voyage into understanding what causes social anxiety disorder and its effects rarely a week passes without hearing news on how it can be treated. From everything I’ve heard I believe that popping ‘happy pills’, such as Prozac, on their own are not the answer. Drugs can help cushion some of social anxiety and depression’s harsher symptoms, but you have to change the way you think and behave for long term recovery.

In the UK’s national news today the findings of research by Professor Jane Plant and Janet Stephenson (National Health Service psychologist) were announced, which are described in their new book: ‘Beating Stress, Anxiety and Depression’.

With 2.4 million Brits estimated to suffer from anxiety and one in six expected to experience depression at some stage, the two experts’ constructive suggestions, based on scientific evidence, have been well received.

Their advice is to change your diet, behaviour and appearance to improve your self esteem and sense of well being. Relying on a prescription from the doctor alone to solve your problem is not the answer (although a visit is always recommended on your road to recovery).

Their suggestions include:

  • Smile – even if you feel the weight of anxiety pushing down on you, at least appearing happier and more approachable will improve how people respond to you. This in turn can help lift your mood and improve how you interact with others.
  • Eat fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids for breakfast and porridge at night to help you sleep.
  • Make lifestyle changes to be more active such as going out dancing (any form of regular exercise is highly recommended if not essential)
  • Treat yourself to a new hairstyle or clothes to improve your self confidence (I’d suggest this is more of a temporary measure and relying on ‘retail therapy’ to improve your mood poses its own risks)
  • Avoid living a materialistic lifestyle or getting sucked into celebrity culture – everybody has their strengths and weaknesses and you shouldn’t regard touched up images and glamorised lifestyles as a yardstick for valuing yourself as a human being.

I think any book that uses scientific evidence to show that you need to change the way you think and behave in order to overcome depression and social anxiety disorder is a welcome addition to any bookshelf.

You might have to find your own path to a happier, more fulfilling life, but there’s are plenty of helpful information on the web and on bookstore shelves to help you find the way.

Originally posted 2008-07-28 13:21:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Photo used under Creative Commons from Vaqawi

Do you ever find it difficult to follow conversations? Does your mind go blank ‘trying’ to think of something to say? Or do you feel overcome by nervous whenever you enter or leave a room?

If so then it’s probably due to anxiety getting in the way. Social anxiety is rooted in the fear of what people think of you and causes you to worry about  everything you say and do. As a result, anxiety can cause you to feel extremely self-conscious, making it difficult to relax and behave naturally.

When you feel self-conscious you focus on your own thoughts and feelings, instead of what is going on in the world around you. Rather than reducing the chance of doing anything stupid, feeling self-conscious can simply magnify the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that make you feel anxious in the first place.

So in order to be able to relax and reduce your anxiety, you need to be able to reduce your self-consciousness.

So how do I reduce my self-consciousness?

To reduce your self-consciousness you have to distract your brain away from focusing inwardly. You have to divert it from analysing your own thoughts and feelings to focusing on the world around you.

If you suffer from social anxiety I know this is a lot easier said then done. So here are a few ideas for keeping your over active brain occupied:

Concentrate on what other people are saying. Even if you don’t have any witty anecdotes to share, simply listening intently to others will distract your brain for long enough that you might find yourself making the odd comment and then joining in without consciously realising it.

Try playing detective mind games – observe the way other people are behaving to deduce what their occupation could be. The way they’re standing, the clothes they’re wearing or how they interact with others can all provide you with small clues. Just remember not to jump to conclusions, but rather see yourself as gathering evidence like a modern day Sherlock Holmes.

Act like a scientist in analysing your own safety behaviours. Try making a determined effort not to do the things you normally do when you feel self-conscious, such as fiddling with your phone, playing with your hair or sipping constantly from your drink. See whether this makes you feel any better and gauge your anxiety on a scale of one to ten, this will at least distract your mind from some of your more uncomfortable thoughts.

Practice mindfulness meditation. Although you’d normally do this in quiet surroundings, you can practice mindfulness meditation when sat on a bus (just remember not to miss your stop!) or waking down the street. Simply focus your attention on the sights and sounds in the present moment, and observe your thoughts as passing cars arriving and then disappearing into the distance.

Distracting your mind from feeling self-conscious long enough for your anxiety to reduce isn’t easy. But it’s a valuable skill which you can practice and get better at over time.

Gradually, being able to focus on the world around you and less on yourself will make social situations more enjoyable and conversations easier without allowing anxious thoughts to get in the way.

Originally posted 2008-08-19 16:59:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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social phobia

I remember when my social anxiety was at its peak going outside could seem daunting. The solitude and security of home was far more preferable to running the gauntlet of (perceived) threats and negative stares from going outdoors. But staying insider forever isn’t an option for most people, unless you’re a reclusive millionaire that can hide in their luxury apartment without having to go to work. For this reason, social anxiety can often be confused with agoraphobia, when the two conditions are actually different branches of the anxiety disorders tree.

What is agoraphobia?

As you probably already know, social phobia is a fear of social situations and the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings they can trigger. The most up-to-date research believes this is due to our bodies perceiving threats inaccurately and then triggering our ‘fight or flight’ mode. The result is that our heart rate increases, we become more aware of our surroundings and we feel anxious in anticipation of an imminent threat. It’s also believed that social anxiety disorder commonly develops during childhood, as a result of negative social experiences that cause the formation of an inaccurate belief system on the threat posed by other people.

Agoraphobia, on the other hand, isn’t a fear of people but rather a fear of having a panic attack in an open space without the ability to escape. It can be triggered whenever people with agoraphobia feel as though they are in a situation they can’t control, and no longer feel the security of their home surroundings. Like social anxiety, when sufferers are outside of their comfort zone then their ‘fight of flight’ mode is triggered, leading to a sense of panic, anxiety and fear of perceived threats (which don’t actually exist).

Agoraphobia is believed to develop as a result of genetics, life experiences and individual temperament, which cause people to reach a heightened sense of anxiety and a fear of having a panic attack in public spaces. Unlike social anxiety, people with agoraphobia can function perfectly normally around other people in their own home, where they feel safe. They can chat, laugh and feel relaxed around strangers. It’s only when they step out of the door that their threat impulses kick in and they start to panic and feel afraid.

While the conditions differ, treatment is the same 

Social anxiety and agoraphobia both fall underneath the umbrella term of anxiety disorders. While the triggers are different the symptoms and treatment are the same. Both social phobia and agoraphobia can be treated through changing the subconscious belief system that drives them. Both conditions can have a wide range of severities, and as such the treatment required needs to be tailored for the individual.

As always, the first step is to visit your doctor (or in severe cases they should be able to come to your home) for a diagnosis and professional advice on the best course of action. This could include cognitive behavioural therapy, to address the negative and inaccurate thoughts driving the anxiety disorder, medication to dampen the symptoms and other types of therapy, such as gradual exposure or group therapy.

The key takeaway from this post is that both agoraphobia and social anxiety are treatable conditions. They are both well researched conditions with a diagnosis and a cure. As such, you don’t have to live with them forever. The first step is reaching out and asking for help and then finding the path that will enable you to challenge your inaccurate, uncomfortable thoughts and rewire your brain to attend social events and to go out in public without fear.

Originally posted 2013-05-21 10:45:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter