Almost every youth has once in a while had an episode of social anxiety and shyness. As much as it is a common issue, it can take a toll over your life if not handled properly. Imagine living your life always fearing to do something embarrassing or act in a humiliating manner. Always thinking about what other people are saying or seeing about you. It’s a real challenge. The journey of overcoming anxiety and shyness may not be smooth as you need to find something that works for you. Fortunately, with determination, courage, patience and the will to be better will save you.
What is Social Anxiety and shyness?
Social anxiety, also social phobia, is a brain disorder that leads to extreme fear in social places. For instance; being evaluated wrongly, dating, interactions, judged and center of attention. It affects an individual in that they find it hard to interact with people in social gatherings, talking with people, eating with others and making new friends. Since it is a lifelong issue, it may require serious ways of overcoming it.
On the other hand, shyness is a temporary disorder that leads to an individual fearing social settings on particular events such as eating together, asking questions, talking to people or making friends. This is a short term thing as shyness can happen once in a while. However, if you have social anxiety, shyness may become a problem to control.
Social anxiety may take time to completely overcome. However, some people may find it hard to change and indulge in practices such as drug abuse to solve their anxiety issues; it is not advisable as it tends to have bad repercussions after long time use. Before treating it, we need to look at what leads to these conditions.
Factors that lead to social anxiety and shyness
However, scientists have no real answer on what leads to Social Anxiety, there are various causes believed to develop social anxiety and shyness disorder as it does not come of its own. It’s hard to explain why it can be found in one family member and miss on the next. As much as it is a normal occurrence, it requires time, discipline and practice to be rectified. These include:
- Past trauma or negative situations in your life
In a recent study, those people who were bullied or abused at their young ages end up with anxiety and shyness issues. This is because the ideal will keep on coming back anytime they have a similar situation or those near them undergo the same. Thinking about the negative things will trigger anxious feelings leading to social anxiety disorders. Mostly because, the affected may not be comfortable with social places, friends or even family as they feel they may be rejected punished or judged wrongly.
The environment you develop in will have an effect on your behavior. Social anxiety may be influenced by where they live. In most cases, it comes about if you had overprotective parents. You will find it hard to socialize and associate yourself with others as you fear being hurt or judged and sometimes rejected. You will fear to socialize freely for the fear of not being good enough or you disappointing your parents. If you live in a hostile environment, the less will be your interaction.
Children who grow up with the presence of fights and conflicts will grow up fearing to socialize with others. Mostly those whose parents or guardians have frequent fights. They believe interacting with people means fights or arguments and may not keep up with relationships as they become abusive or keep to themselves. You will hardly find them talking to others or meeting new friends.
What are the symptoms of Social Anxiety and shyness?
If you are having anxiety, you will experience a whole lot of symptoms. It affects your physical, psychological, behavioral and socially. Here is what to expect:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Find it scary to talk to strangers even if they wish to
- Fear attending social gatherings
- Excessive sweating
- Shaking and trembling
- Rapid heart rate
- Worrying about embarrassment in social events and gatherings
- Afraid of making new friends
- Fear using public restrooms
- Fear of eating in public
- Relying on drugs to face people
- Keep to themselves
- Trying not to draw attention
- Avoiding eye contact and speaking in an overly soft voice
It is a normal occurrence with a lot more symptoms that need to be addressed amicably. This is because; there have been extreme cases where those affected have suicidal thoughts and chronic depression. At this stage, it might be difficult to treat your disorder but it’s not impossible. However, a study proved that most of the people who experience social anxiety and shyness do not talk about the problem they experience until later in life. This is not effective as there are ways in which you can be helped by following simple routine changes and so on.
How to Overcome Social Anxiety and Shyness
Overcoming Social Anxiety and shyness is the main course of this article. There are techniques and ways on how to handle your situation by measuring how long and deep it has affected your life. These are the ways used for your journey:
Overcoming Social Anxiety disorder starts with you. That moment you accept you have a problem and visit a doctor, which takes courage. You have started on a good path. When you talk to the doctor, you will be diagnosed to rule out the possibility of another underlying condition. Once it is proven to be a social anxiety disorder and shyness, you will be referred to a specialist to handle your issue.
At this stage, you will be guided on the steps to follow to get yourself back to the social world. It may have been the effects of under socialization from your earlier years where you do not see the need to have friends or interact with people, it all can be solved. There are people who take a shorter time to experience changes in their anxiety symptoms while some years. Keeping your issue to yourself may affect you greatly as it will hinder you from reaching your potential. Speaking up is what you need. Who knows, it might save you from depression!
Learn what triggers your fear
This is an important part of healing as you will accept your problem. By learning what makes you fear will be easy to work on it. You can either avoid it or face it confidently. If its rejection, you can start by loving yourself and making yourself more approachable and friendly.
To make this technique work, you need to set goals on what kind of approaches are more suitable to kill your anxiety. You can begin with attending social gatherings and events or thinking positively about the event you will be attending and how best to use your time. You can seek the opinion of your friends on how you look or have a change in an outfit to feel different. Once you feel beautiful, you will not fear other people’s judgment as that would boost your confidence.
Depending on how complex your anxiety disorder is, you can decide on seeking the help of a specialist who will give you the kind of service you need. Whether it is a psychologist or a psychiatrist, clinical service provider or counselor, they will both diagnose how Social anxiety disorder and shyness is affecting you. You will then be started on anxiety overcoming the journey. They will help you feel good about yourself and boost your morale for your recovery. They provide tips on how well to face your fears as well as manage. If it is beyond talking and expressing yourself, they can prescribe the best treatment/ counseling to help you gain courage and overcome your anxiety.
This kind of therapy has helped a large number of individuals overcome their anxiety. You will be taught how to relax and breathe slowly so as to avoid rapid sensations. Learning to breathe slowly at intervals helps a great deal as once you feel afraid or anxious, you can simply breathe and you will relax. No more room for fear. However, this technique takes a lot of time and practice; it is the easiest and convenient way of fighting anxiety.
Before starting the breathing therapy, ensure you understand your problem and practice again and again to follow suit. It is advisable to try breathing in and out when you are calm as that will help you relax and release any negative thoughts from your mind.
Once you have been diagnosed with social anxiety and shyness, you can be prescribed with Antidepressants or antianxiety medication to lessen your symptoms. It might not treat the entire condition but will help you regain yourself. You will have little to no episodes of anxiety. Moreover, these medications prescribed for your anxiety disorder should be taken with care. Following the doctor’s orders will save you a lot due to the effects related to the drugs. In most cases, you will be prescribed with small doses depending on how serious your condition is or to help ease the side effects.
These medications are certified as safe by the Drug and food board. For example; Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor are the most used in anxiety disorder treatment. However, these drugs are not convenient for long term use as their withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable. You should also reverse to a strict diet as they may have a wide range of negative reactions on your body and anxiety.
Medication should be used properly to ensure you do not have a relapse. In some patients, these medications take a few months to clear the Social anxiety symptoms while some require it for years to be better. Always keep track and follow up on your treatment.
This form of therapy tends to improve how an individual feels about themselves. Depending on how the symptoms of fear and anxiety affect your daily life, you will be taught skills on how to live your life in the most effective and peaceful manner while leaving all the negative thoughts and fear behind. You will learn to look at yourself with confidence and face the social events you get anxiety from by practicing more exposure.
Here, it involves the psychologist and the patient. You can be an individual or as a group. You will be guided on how well to relate with yourself and gain the courage to help you heal. You can talk to your specialist on what most affects you and they will help you acquire the skills necessary to make you whole. They can consider using medication or the ‘talk’ technique.
Group therapy is another way of gaining courage. Meeting people who have the same condition as you can motivate you into beating anxiety. You will be able to express your fears to them and get the right guidance on what to do to let anxiety go. Groups help people accept themselves and feel secure talking to other people who feel the same way as they do. You may boost your courage by learning you are not alone and everyone is there to help you get better. The first step in these groups is to accept you no matter the seriousness of the matter. You will get all the guidance you need to move forward from those who have made it.
As much as you are afraid to express yourself to people, you can start by encouraging yourself in the mirror. Talking in front of the mirror will give you courage on how to face other people. When you feel ready, you can start by asking questions in class, dating, participating in conferences, eating with others and writing more. You can read aloud or participate in group work. Ensure you tell stories to your friends and family and you will find your anxiety slowly disappearing. You can sing along with song lyrics and participate in community work. You will feel freer to achieve your dreams and an improvement in your relationships. Talking is enough remedy for stress and depression. Express yourself more.