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13 Things to Remember if You Love A Person With Social Anxiety

13 Things to Remember if You Love A Person With Social Anxiety
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Social anxiety is the 3rd most common mental health issue in the U.S. In fact, over 19 million people suffer from mild to severe social anxiety today, and “normal” individuals tend to see the symptoms without understanding the nature of the illness and thus do not respond with empathy to sufferers. Common reactions are lazy, aloof, unfriendly, malingerers, hypochondriacs, and misfits.

If someone you care about or work with has social anxiety, you need to recognize the symptoms, understand their illness, and find ways to support that individual, rather than criticize and/or condemn. Here you will find 13 common behaviors of people who have social anxiety and how you need to respond in order to support them.

1. They want to be recognized for something other than just their social maladaptation.

A mental health issue does not define a person – it is simply one trait possessed right now. People with this affliction can be intelligent, can be productive, and can have a number of personalities and professional traits that are quite positive. Recognizing and praising these positive traits will show that you see beyond this single “negative” and can see their value as a whole person.

2. They get tired easily.

And they may sleep more or may be too exhausted to engage in normal activites. Think about it. They spend all of their waking hours that are outside of their “safe” places (usually their homes) worrying about what situations they may find themselves in, what they will say if addressed in any manner, how they will cope with a meeting at work or a class discussion in school. Their brains are relentlessly churning, and that can be exhausting. Rather than criticizing them for their tiredness, how about putting yourself in that mental situation? Would you be exhausted? Of course you will be! Rather than criticizing them, suggest a short time out or nap.

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3. They can “shut down” or “zone out.”

This is a defense mechanism, and we all have them, even though they may not present themselves in this manner. Some of us may become angry or irritable; some of us may be subject to “rants” of sorts. So why do we criticize socially anxious people for their defense mechanisms simply because they are different from us? Part of developing empathy for socially anxious people is to recognize that they have their own responses to stress, just as we do.

4. They are horribly self-conscious.

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    While most people will accept a “bad hair day” or clothing that may not be wonderfully flattering, those with social anxiety put huge emphasis on physical appearance, convinced that they are being regularly judged by how they look. The best response? Give compliments on their physical appearance; tell them that their outfit looks good on them; tell them that the color they are wearing is great; praise any physical feature that you can. This bolsters self-confidence and creates a feeling of acceptance.

    5. They will have more health issues, as their immune systems are continually compromised.

    UCLA study showed that social anxiety increases inflammatory activity of those parts of the brain that trigger immune system functions. Continued activation of this system wears it down and makes the body more subject to illness and disease. Rather than criticize or accuse someone of hypochondria, understand and accept the fact that there is a real physical cause of more frequent illness.

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    6. They respond differently to stimuli that you consider normal and even pleasant.

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      Remember, research shows that people with social anxiety are on “high alert” all of the time. This means that noise, lots of conversation, and large groups of people can overload their sensory intake. They will retreat, shut down, or flee. A study conducted by Gottschalk, M.D. and Haer, Ph.D., published in General Psychiatry, demonstrates that sensory overload and social impairment are directly related, particularly in individuals who have generalized social anxiety issues. Thus, if you are “forcing” a socially anxious person to participate in such activities, you are presenting him/her with an almost “impossible” situation. Tone down the activities in which you are asking your loved one to participate, at least for now.

      7. They have a great deal of difficulty dealing with change of any kind.

      You may be excited about a career change or a transfer that will move you to a new city and new experiences. Your partner or spouse will not share that excitement if they suffer from social anxiety. Any changes can be a horrible threat to “safety,” and you must recognize it. In your excitement, you cannot dismiss the anxiety of your loved one. Find ways to acclimate your partner to the change gradually or share some information on how to organize your move to another place without any extra mess, to give small incremental experiences in the new environment, so that they are not overwhelmed.

      8. They want positive responses to their anxiety attacks, not just nebulous comments, such as, “Are you going to be okay?”

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        They don’t feel “okay,” and they do not want someone continually asking them that question. Instead, you need to recognize the immediate condition and provide reassuring and positive comments, such as, “You’ve had these attacks before, and you have gotten through them. You will get through this one too. I am here to give you whatever help you need or to just leave you alone if that is what you want.”

        9. They store previous traumatic events in a different part of their brains than other people.

        We are all subject to traumatic events in our lifetimes – the death of a loved one; being the victim of bullying or abuse; catastrophes in our childhood or adolescence; violence in wartime. People who do not suffer social anxiety from such events store those memories in the left frontal portions of their brains; people who develop social anxiety store those memories in the back regions of their brains – those regions in which sensory perceptions are housed. Thus, the sights, sounds, smells, etc. of those experiences are recalled when similar sensory experiences are encountered (Dr. Ruth Lanius, University of Western Ontario, study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Jan., 2004). Understanding that the individual with social anxiety may be “re-living” prior traumatic experiences differently can go a long way towards understanding and developing sensitivity to their responses to current situations which stimulate those memories.

        10. They need their “space.”

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          While you are trying to get the anxious person to get motivated to participate in events and social situations, that person just needs to step back and get some perspective, allowing a gradual build-up to the participation that you may want right now. It is far better that you respond with a comment like, “It’s okay, I can go by myself. You stay here, and I’ll see you later,” rather than, “I don’t understand what is wrong with you! All I’m asking is that you go to this event with me!” Try to stop focusing on your needs and focus on theirs.

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          11. They know that their anxieties are irrational.

          You do not have to continually remind them of that fact. Instead of saying, “That’s just crazy!”, think of a response that validates what they are feeling right now. “I know what you are feeling; I know that you do not want to feel this way; how can I help?” This gives the socially anxious person trust in you and will allow them to voice their anxieties rather than keep them suppressed, which only causes additional stress.

          12. They fear a social situation that has not presented itself

          One of the cardinal symptoms of social anxiety is an irrational preoccupation with social situations that have not even occurred but may occur. If, for example, there is an invitation to a wedding and reception that is weeks away, the individual with social anxiety might obsess about the event. An inordinate amount of time may be spent thinking and re-thinking what clothing to wear, what hairstyle will be chosen, who else may be attending, where they might be seated at the reception, etc. You cannot change this thinking, but you can validate it and provide reassurances. Offering to help with selection of clothing and complimenting a particular hairstyle will assist in alleviating fears. Reassuring the individual that you will be “right next to them” throughout the event is important, and you must follow through with that promise.

          13. They will want to retreat to their “safe place” as often as possible.

          One of the things that social media has given to people with social anxiety is a method of communicating that is not face-to-face. Instead of criticizing the amount of time spent on Facebook or watching television, suggest an occasional walk or an evening out with dinner and a movie. These activities can reinforce the thinking that a social situation outside of the home can be “safe” too.

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          Elena Prokopets

          Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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          Last Updated on July 12, 2021

          100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

          100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier
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          Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time?

          By tweaking little things in your daily life, it can make your life much more convenient!

          Here’re 100 of the most practical life hacks so you can just pick up any of them right away!

          83 tie a small piece of bright colored fabric

            84 write random letter

              85 use a rubberband

                86 dorm smell bad

                  87 lean your phone on your sunglassess

                    89 how to waterproof your shoes

                      90 take a picture of the name card

                        91 iron inside out

                          92 old newspaper

                            93 tumble try shoes

                              keep a card like this

                                SONY DSC

                                  94 soap bar

                                    95 make a hole

                                      96 drop the battery

                                        97 use a coozie

                                          98 when taking a picture

                                            use a clean dust pan

                                              try a pants hanger

                                                use your cellphone light

                                                  use a spring from an old pen

                                                    quick and easy iphone speaker

                                                      user binder clips

                                                        wrap a wet paper towel around your beverage

                                                          put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle

                                                            clean out an old lotion bottle for your beach

                                                              use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a bbq

                                                                doritos are great for kindling

                                                                  use nail polish to identify different keys

                                                                    use a hanging shoe rack to store cleaning supplies

                                                                      freeze grapes to chill white wine without

                                                                        use paper clips to organize your cables

                                                                          almost finished your jar of nutella

                                                                            sick of having a box full of tangled

                                                                              unroll the rim to increase the capacity

                                                                                cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff

                                                                                  remove the stem from strawberries

                                                                                    turn an old bottle into a simple little cord holder

                                                                                      for iced coffee and iced cappuccino, use frozen coffee cubes

                                                                                        how to fold a fitted bed sheet

                                                                                          tired of snoozing past your alarm

                                                                                            place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on

                                                                                              ut a wooden spoon across a boiling pot

                                                                                                use bread clips to save flip-flops

                                                                                                  take pictures of friends holding items

                                                                                                    how i always know which headphone is the left one

                                                                                                      put a stocking over the end of a vacuum

                                                                                                        How to make sure you drink enough water

                                                                                                          user a can opener to open blister

                                                                                                            good sandwich guide

                                                                                                              turn your muffin pans upside down

                                                                                                                50 pounds of groceries and living on the 5th floor

                                                                                                                  the right way to make a blt

                                                                                                                    add one teaspoon of baking soda

                                                                                                                      38

                                                                                                                        hair straighteners equals to collar irons

                                                                                                                          stack your clothes vertically to see them all

                                                                                                                            the right way to make cookies in the summer

                                                                                                                              how to clean a blender

                                                                                                                                the right way to eat a popsicle

                                                                                                                                  use bread clips to label and organize power cords

                                                                                                                                    to get the built up residue off of your shower head

                                                                                                                                      user a hair clip to orgainize long wires

                                                                                                                                        a frozen saturated sponge in a bag

                                                                                                                                          rub stuck zipper teeth with a graphite pencil

                                                                                                                                            use a soda pop tab

                                                                                                                                              50

                                                                                                                                                51 How to multiply large numbers in your head.

                                                                                                                                                  52 How to open a bottle if you dont have a corkscrew.

                                                                                                                                                    rub a walnut on damaged wooden furniture

                                                                                                                                                      kids fall out of bed

                                                                                                                                                        use toothpaste to clear up hazy car

                                                                                                                                                          58

                                                                                                                                                            59 keep pizza out while driving home

                                                                                                                                                              60 put your straw through the tab to keep it from rising

                                                                                                                                                                hold oreos with a fork so your fingers

                                                                                                                                                                  Never lose your remotes again

                                                                                                                                                                    hiding your emergency money

                                                                                                                                                                      use a bread tab to hold your spot on a roll

                                                                                                                                                                        if you are at a hotel and run out of chargers

                                                                                                                                                                          keep a square of cardboard in a ziplock bag

                                                                                                                                                                            If you need to pee or smoke at a bar

                                                                                                                                                                              drill holes in the bottom of your garbage

                                                                                                                                                                                use an accented letter as your passcode

                                                                                                                                                                                  use a squeeze ketchup bottle top with your shopvac

                                                                                                                                                                                    do something unusual when locking the door

                                                                                                                                                                                      when heating leftovers space out a circle in the middle

                                                                                                                                                                                        dont burn yourself in those hard to reach candles

                                                                                                                                                                                          put a small amount of water in a glass when you microwave your pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                            75 use a piece of paper to organize

                                                                                                                                                                                              use half a pool noodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                pencil case to store cables

                                                                                                                                                                                                  78 clothespin to hold nail

                                                                                                                                                                                                    79 make blts

                                                                                                                                                                                                      80 take a picture of your fridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                        81 fill plastic water bottles

                                                                                                                                                                                                          82 right ways to eat chips

                                                                                                                                                                                                            99 if your plug keeps failing

                                                                                                                                                                                                              100 put the banana on the wire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                88 before you throw away a post it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Source: Reddit LifeProTips

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There you go, 100 awesome life hacks that you can try right now to make your life a lot easier!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  More Amazing Life Hacks for An Easier Life

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  50 Top Parenting Tricks and Hacks That Will Make Life Easier And More Fun

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  30 Brilliant Camping Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  20 Popular Life Hacks From the Internet Debunked (or Verified)

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