Coping With Social Anxiety
Many people look forward to holiday social gatherings: office parties, family gatherings, Friendsgivings, and more. But not everyone does—for people with social anxiety, the prospect of a party can send stress levels surging and set off hours of negative self-talk. Social Anxiety Disorder, also called social phobia, refers to having a persistent fear of social or performance situations. Intense nervousness and self-consciousness and fear of being negatively perceived by others are common for someone with social anxiety disorder. While the person may realize that the fear is potentially unreasonable, he or she can’t do anything about it.
- Social anxiety disorder sufferers often go out of their way to avoid parties, gatherings, and other social situations. The anticipation of the event can cause significant distress.
- The avoidance or distress interferes significantly with the person’s normal routines, work, social activities, or relationships—and sufferers can be acutely conscious (and self-conscious) about the phobia.
- People with social anxiety disorder often feel like others are aware of their anxiety, and this causes them shame.
- This fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, lasting for 6 months or more according to the DSM-5.
It’s estimated that 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder. If the holiday season has elevated the social pressure and you think you might have social anxiety disorder, what can you do?
Realize that your automatic assumptions are likely inaccurate.
One thing I have noticed while treating people with social anxiety disorder is that they make inaccurate assumptions about what other people are thinking. You are your own toughest critic—not everyone else is being so hard on you! In fact, people are usually worried about themselves and how they are coming off, and they are not focused on you to the degree you think they are.
Challenge your negative thoughts.
Come up with a positive phrase you can repeat to yourself that can help you rationalize your negative thinking. For example, “No one knows I am feeling anxious. They do not know what I am thinking.” Use this phrase while in public to control your anxiety.
Take a plus-one to help.
A trusted friend or spouse can help anyone feel better at an event—and you’re guaranteed to have someone to talk to.
Resolve to get help.
Therapy can really help social anxiety. I am highly experienced in treating social anxiety, which is a very common problem in today’s high-pressure society. Call today to set up an initial session to start getting control over your anxiety.
At Guada Psychological Services, I offer individual, group, and video therapy for adolescents and adults struggling with a variety of mental health conditions. My approach to therapy is tailored to each patient, and I carefully consider the full context of each patient’s life, so I can help him or her make positive change. As a PsyD, I am trained to see even the most serious cases. Through comprehensive education, deep experience, and enduring human compassion, I build rapport and lasting relationships with each and every one of my patients to provide relief and a brighter future.
To discuss how therapy might help for social anxiety, reach out for a short consultation at 847-797-4699.