Is social anxiety holding you back? Do you feel a sense of dread when facing social situations such as an office party or a lunch gathering with friends? These are the times in life when we should feel excited or at least anticipate some pleasure that comes with interacting with others. They are not meant to make you feel overwhelmed or nervous.
The signs of social anxiety
Many people with social anxiety find themselves avoiding others even when they don’t want to. They feel isolated and alone, but they are not ‘loners.’ They have the same desire for connection as everybody else but are holding themselves back because of fear or anxiety.
Each case of social anxiety is unique but there are some common symptoms to consider if you think social anxiety may be holding you back from participating in life the way you want to. Some signs of social anxiety are:
- Fear of situations where you feel people will be judging you
- Acute feelings of embarrassment or worrying about embarrassment or humiliation
- heightened heart rate
- Sweating during social interactions
- Avoiding social interactions if possible
- Avoiding speaking when with others because of fear of embarrassment
- Spending excessive time after a social situation analyzing your performance and finding flaws in what you did or didn’t say.
How social anxiety can hold you back
We are social animals and we need human connection to thrive and find fulfillment in life. If left untreated, social anxiety can cause a severe setback in your life on many different levels.
- Lowered academic achievement – Avoiding judgment from others in school or university may prevent you from presenting in front of the class or refusing to speak up in class. You may drop out of school altogether.
- Isolation – avoiding social situations, especially as you get older and are not forced into them, will lead to isolation and loneliness
- Substance abuse – this could result from an attempt to self-medicate in order to deal with sadness or stress, caused by isolation, or you may use substances to help you relax when you are socializing.
- Unimproved social skills – as we get older and experience more in life, our social skills increase. We become more empathetic, wiser, and benefit from life experience. We feel joy in sharing our experiences with others. If we are avoiding others, we miss out on opportunities to enhance our social skill and learn from our mistakes.
- Suicide or suicidal thoughts and/attempts – isolation can cause deep depression. If we cannot foresee a better future we may feel hopeless.
Therapy for social anxiety
Today, we have evidence-based therapy techniques that work very well for social anxiety. A therapist will help you challenge the negative thoughts and fears that plague you in social situations.
Sometimes our thoughts and interpretations of situations become skewed and do not reflect reality. A therapist can help you see this. In therapy, we will work together to identify precise triggers that produce anxiety and work to give you the tools you need to think and act differently. Through therapy and practice, you can learn to interact and interpret yourself and social situations in a healthy way. You can learn to approach formally anxiety-producing situations with confidence and ease.
I’m here to help
If you are struggling or if you would like to learn more, you are welcome to call and make an appointment or fill out the contact form and click send.Please share this post!