Social anxiety disorder is a difficult problem to overcome. But not impossible.
Once you’ve accepted that it’s inaccurate thoughts causing you to feel anxious you can start working on changing them. Because changing the way you think will change the way you feel.
My advice would be to look at it as a long term campaign you’ll need to engage, rather than hoping for a short term ‘miracle’ cure from medication.
Here’s my suggestion for steps your campaign to defeat social anxiety could take:
1. Read as much as you can about social anxiety disorder
Luckily, it’s no longer an unknown problem, and there are plenty of websites and books on the subject.
I can personally recommend these books:
2. Talk to your friends and family about it
Not easy I know, but confiding in someone else and explaining why you sometimes feel overly nervous will help release some of the pressure on yourself. They might also be able to help and will be more understanding when you start feeling anxious in social situations.
3. Take up new hobbies and be more active
Filling you life with new interests can give you more of a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction and self confidence. Humans are inherently doers, and lying in bed all day hiding under the bedcovers will simply make you feel worse in the long run and prevents you overcoming your problem. If you don’t feel comfortable joining local sports teams or special interest clubs then take up a hobby you can work on at home, such as a new musical instrument, reading or teaching yourself how to cook delicious gourmet dishes.
I can’t emphasise how effective regular exercise can be at relieving anxiety. I’d recommend jogging for half and hour everyday if you can manage it, otherwise just go for a stroll or exercise at home (press ups, situps etc). Getting in shape will boost your confidence, help you be more active and there’s truth in the old adage ‘a healthy body means a healthy mind’.
5. Gradually expose yourself to the situations that make you feel nervous
Although this can be a struggle, this is the strategy recommended by cognitive therapists for gradaully overcoming the inaccurate physical and mental symptoms of social anxiety. Write a list of the situations your afraid of. Put them in order from the least scary to the terrifying worst and then gradually try to work through them, exposing yourself for a little bit longer each time.
At the end of the day, you’ll need to find your own path to overcoming social anxiety. But always remember that you can learn to change the way you think. And changing the way you think will change the way you feel, and behave.