Launch into Wellness

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I really want that promotion, but there is no way I’m going for the interview.  The panel will all be looking at me and I know I’ll say something that will make me look stupid, they’ll all be watching me and judging everything I say and believe me, I’ll say something catastrophic which will lead to my humiliation or my mind will go blank and I’ll have nothing to say I’m not risking that happening, NO WAY.  I’ll just stay where I am because I am not putting myself through that.

 

Withdrawing from uncomfortable social situations at work, school, in relationships and in daily life for fear of being judged negatively or rejected by others could mean that you are living with Social Anxiety.   We all have experienced a form of social anxiety within our lives.  The onset usually occurs during the teenage years.  This is the time that we are tasked with giving oral presentations in school in front of an audience which can be very stressful and we’re also trying to fit in socially during this time and we care a great deal about what our peers say and think about us, we want to be accepted.      Living With Social Anxiety - Header Image

 

SOCIAL ANXIETY AND ME

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about me.  I have mild to moderate symptoms of social anxiety.  The working example I lead off within this article is totally me, and I struggle with these symptoms in this certain situation which results in missed opportunities.

As a child I was always the one that was left out in social gatherings with my peers, I’m not sure if that was really the case or if it was just how I felt.  As I grew into a young adult, I found that I constantly worried about what other people thought about me, I thought everyone looking at me was judging me negatively and therefore I wasn’t good enough,  I felt rejected.

I wouldn’t go to gatherings and I didn’t have many friends, I felt alone because I chose to stay at home by myself, this was a sure way I wouldn’t say or do something stupid and humiliate myself.

I wouldn’t go to restaurant’s by myself, god forbid I would be alone eating and someone judge me for that, or I’d spill my coffee or drop my fork making a clanking noise on the floor drawing attention to myself and looking like a total idiot, NO WAY, I just wouldn’t embarrass myself like that, I’ll order in.

That was me 10 years ago and now my symptoms are very mild and are only present in specific stressful situations for me (such as the job promotion interview scenario above, I’m still working on that one).

I’ve learned to overcome social anxiety through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This took some time and patience.  I was actually tasked to put myself in those positions that really made me feel out of my comfort zone and work through them as uncomfortable as they made me feel, and you know what………..it worked!  Living With Social Anxiety - Image

I can now meet new people and have a conversation with them (I’m still a little shy, but the social anxiety symptoms I’d experienced before are no longer present), I can go to a restaurant by myself and have coffee, or a meal without thinking that everyone is staring at me and judging me.  I can involve myself in work discussions and I even lead team meetings which is something that I had never thought I do.   I have had really great success with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) it’s had such an impact on my overall wellness.

 

THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL ANXIETY – HOW SEVERE IS IT?

People who suffer from social anxiety can live a life that is quite lonely, isolation becomes the norm and sometimes people can turn to alcohol and substance use if having to go into those stressful social situations.

Some people fear one or few specific situations (this is me now) while others fear a wide range of situations where symptoms can become debilitating.  Social anxiety can have a tremendous negative impact on a person’s well-being.

EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL SYMPTOMS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY

If you suffer from social anxiety you probably find yourself worrying about what other people think of you to the extent that it impacts your everyday interactions.  You may begin to withdraw for fear of being scrutinized or rejected by embarrassing or humiliating yourself.

Here are some emotional and behavioral symptoms that people with social anxieties will often display

  • Worry about embarrassing or humiliating themselves
  • Fear that everyone is watching them and judging them negatively
  • Avoid situations where they can become the center of attention
  • Fear of talking to strangers
  • Spending time after a social situation analyzing performance and identifying flaws in your interaction
  • Expecting the worst possible outcome from a negative experience during a social situation

 

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY

There are several physical symptoms of social anxiety, these can include

  • Panic Attacks
  • Stomach aches
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sweating/hot flashes
  • Racing heart
  • Tense and shaky

People who experience these physical symptoms are more apt to pull themselves away from social situations.  Avoidance begins to set in in order to prevent those feelings and symptoms from arising.

 

AVOIDANCE; LONELINESS SETS IN Living With Social Anxiety - Image

People will often find themselves avoiding particular situations that make them feel uncomfortable such as;

  • going to school or work
  • Social gatherings; parties
  • making eye contact
  • eating in front of people
  • dating
  • starting conversations
  • returning items to a store

Studies have also shown that social anxiety symptoms are present prior to other mental health diagnoses, such as panic disorder, depression and bulimia to name a few, and women are more likely to experience social anxiety than men.

 

SOCIAL ANXIETY ASSESSMENT TOOL; HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

If you believe that you are showing symptoms of Social Anxiety take the Leibowtz Social Anxiety assessment tool (which can be accessed online) to determine if a trip to the doctor’s office may be in order or if you find yourself avoiding specific social situations for fear of embarrassment, worry, and panic, make the call to your doctor, it’s time to take back your life.

 

UNTREATED SYMPTOMS; COMPLICATIONS WILL ARISE

If symptoms of social anxiety are experienced over long periods of time without some form of treatment many complications can arise, individuals can experience;

  • low self-esteem
  • negative self talk
  • poor social skills
  • trouble being assertive
  • substance abuse
  • suicidal thoughts

Major depressive disorder and substance abuse often occur with social anxiety.

 

TREATMENT; TIME FOR WELLNESS

Living With Social Anxiety - ImageResearch shows that the most effective forms of treatment used to treat social anxiety disorder are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication.  If you think you are suffering from any of these symptoms contact your doctor right away.

SOCIAL ANXIETY IS REAL

People who have symptoms of social anxiety will find ways to avoid social situations for fear of rejection, embarrassment and humiliation.   The emotional and physical feelings associated with social anxiety are very real and can have a negative impact on a person’s life.  People who are experiencing symptoms become very lonely and isolate themselves from daily interactions which can cause other mental health concerns.  If you know someone who displays some or all of these symptoms, talk to them, review informative information surrounding social anxiety and discuss making that call to the doctor.

Stepping back onto the path of wellness allows us to continue on our journey to endless possibilities

 

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10 thoughts on “Living With Social Anxiety | Overcoming Symptoms

  1. Wow. That was a very informative article. I don’t have a problem with this, but my wife does. This was a great read that helped me understand her much better. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Nathan, I’m glad you found it informative.
      I hope your wife has found the supports that will help her work toward her wellness. Continue to be patient with her and encourage her to step outside her comfort zone, that was key in overcoming my anxieties.

      Tracy

  2. These articles are always so great because a lot of people are ignorant of the plight of people with conditions like social anxiety. Putting the information in blog form makes it more accessible to people and gets the word out in a more effective way.
    Great job!

    1. Thanks for the feedback David.
      I agree, blogs can be an effective way to get information out there and start conversations. Far too often mental health is overlooked by judgement, I hope to keep the conversation going

      Cheers,

  3. After reading your story, I caught myself thinking, that all of us had some level of social anxiety in one of our life periods- high school, university or office. My period was school I guess. Worst for me was, I thought that I am the only one with this set of mind, so I can’t share to anybody, and that was a problem. Social anxiety is so common among us, so spread your message, this is important.

    I run a quit smoking support site http://www.smokingisachoice.com. While making my researches, I come across term Cognitive Behavioral Therapy time at a time. As far as I understand this is a powerful psychological therapy tool. Can you tell a bit more in details how it works. Also, can you share some useful links about it?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Thanks for your comment Ablati.
      Your’re so right in that many people live in silence with these symptoms so much so that it can often be be characterized as arrogant and egotistical which is so not the case, if people who judged only knew what was actually happening inside the mind and body of that the person struggling with these symptoms I’m sure it would change their tune in an instant.

      Thanks again for the feedback.

  4. This article is SO informative and beneficial. I am so glad to see someone sharing about this in such an educated yet personal way. Thank you so much for the vulnerability you show through your writing and the helpful tips you offer.

  5. Hi Savannah

    Thank you for your comment. I do share my experiences throughout my posts in hopes of connecting with people. For me, having someone who has experienced some of the symptoms I have helps me to know I’m not alone, however I’m very cautious as we are all are on our own journey and no one persons journey is the same. That’s what makes us so unique.

    Cheers

  6. Hi Tracy!
    Isn’t it funny how you can know someone for so long and have no idea about their anxieties. I too suffered (and still do, in certain social situations) from social anxiety. Not so much now that I’m older. My son also suffers from it and has been in therapy for a while. He is learning to push himself out of his comfort zone and becoming more confident everyday. Calling a friend on the phone, talking to a cashier and paying for an item, ordering food in a restaurant…We celebrate these little accomplishments that most other teens his age take for granted. I am very proud of him.
    I look forward to learning/reading more on your website. Great idea!

    1. Hi Melissa

      That’s great! Your son’s making awesome progress. Celebrating those success’s is so very important to increase self confidence and independence. I’m sure that in the midst of overcoming your social anxiety that many times you had to really put yourself out there as I did, and it felt like some of the most scariest moments of your life, so we are able to empathize with what others who are dealing with those same experiences. Unfortunately, we have to purposely put ourselves in those really awkward situations and deal with those emotions if we want to overcome them. Facing our fears is critical to achieving overall wellness.

      Sounds like he’s got a great mom in his corner pushing him to challenge himself. Great work!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, hope to hear from you again

      Cheers

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