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.