I entered the restaurant and immediately felt as if everyone is staring at me, judging me and do not approve of my appearance. I sat at the table, which I reserved earlier, thinking I might feel safer, but my paranoia did not stop. My every movement felt awkward. I was praying for my friends to get to the place faster and “protect” me.
These kind of feelings are frequent visitors in my head every time I go to the mall/restaurant/any place full of people. I start thinking that I’m wearing wrong clothes, walk in a funny way, and behave hideously. Next emotions are sadness, depression and a strong desire to get under the blanket and cry my eyes out.
Scientists Define Two Types of Social Anxiety
Scientists say that there are two types of social anxieties:
- people who fear most social situations (like in my own example above), or
- people who fear situations where they have to perform (for example job interviews, public speaking etc.).
Both situations may feel like you are having a panic attack: “racing” heart, feeling weak and dizzy, breathing difficulties, feeling sweaty or having chills.
Social Anxiety Hinders Your Life
Social anxiety is underestimated very frequently. However, it can damage a person’s private, work and family life significantly, and should be taken seriously.
For people who suffer from social anxiety, it is hard to communicate with colleagues, present your work, attend parties and work-related events, and socialize with other parents during school activities.
The list can go on. Hence, the damage can spread around as well.
It should be clear now: this kind of issue should not be ignored and avoided.
How to Get over Social Anxiety
The good news is that we live in a very progressive time, and people with social anxieties can get different kind of help when they just don’t know how to get over social anxiety.
It is important to understand this issue even for those, who does not experience it, because one day they might be faced with a situation where their knowledge might be useful.
There was a situation not so long ago when I’ve had one of the worst social anxieties in my life, supported by one of the worst panic attacks as well. A friend of mine, who had to deal with this situation, had no idea that this happens to me from time-to-time.
You will be surprised when I say that I felt bad for him more than I did for myself. He had to figure out what to do right there on the spot. Him and I were saved only becasue unconciously he made a few good decisions, and we were able to avoid the more dramatic ending.
There are many well-known ways on how to deal with this kind of issues, and people must be encouraged to try different ways, and practice whichever is more suitable for them.
This may sound like a cliché, but yoga helps. Especially the breathing exercises, which is an absolute must when you are doing yoga, have a good long-term impact.
Even if you do not have time to attend yoga classes, there are other convenient alternatives. There are plenty of awesome videos online and you can pick the one with the right duration and right pace.
Accept the fact that this kind of issue exists in your life.
Many people prefer to suffer and be in denial, making an issue worse day by day.
Do not be afraid of whatever may come next, after your acceptance. No matter what, after you make peace with it, it will only start getting better afterwards. You will be faced with understanding from yourself and from others too.
Practice facing your fear. Afraid of public speaking? Try it in front of the mirror, and be judgements like to yourself, challenge yourself.
Afraid of interviews? Ask a friend to challenge you with difficult and tricky questions.
Practice whatever you fear.
Try to predict your reaction in different situations and how could you handle them right there on the spot.
Keep in mind what kind of thoughts make you calmer. Keep in storage a few happy stories, which happened to you, and which make you smile.
Practice and practice predictions of your emotions.
For some people this is a very scary word. Some might think that they are putting in doubt their sanity and reputation. However, we are living in the 21st century and thankfully we come across some very open-minded people.
Nowadays going to therapy is just like going for a walk in the park: relaxing activity, which will give some clarity in your head.