Social anxiety is contagious—sort of. Researchers are learning that anxiety disorders are hereditary and have a biological basis, just like allergies and diabetes. Anxiety disorders typically develop from complex risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life experiences. Anxiety – which is as common in men as it is in women – usually begins around the age of 13.
These disorders are straightforward, but only a third of people receive treatment. You have a blast like a rock star at home or on social media. But in public, you run away from looks and contacts and feel relieved when your plans break their noses. Here’s how to find the right balance.
Do you have an extreme fear of being judged in social situations, or do you think sadistically about all the things that can go wrong – nervously letting out everything you never wanted to say out loud to fill in the downtime of the conversation? Do you scrutinize all the awkward things you think you’ve done or said after the fact? Then you may be suffering from social anxiety.
Counter-Attacking Social Anxiety
Don’t let social anxiety take over. On the contrary, acknowledge its existence and affirm your control and willingness to enjoy life. Do everything possible to temper it. Standing up to it allows you to reprogram your brain and release the grip of your anxiety.
Untreated social anxiety could increase the risk of alcoholism, depression, loneliness, professional setbacks and celibacy. A situation that is far from ideal. It is, therefore, essential to target and confronts your anxiety. Then, you can continue to live with it without anything serious happening to you.
Exposing Yourself to Your Fears – Social Anxiety
The success of treating anxiety through exposure is the subject of many studies. It is revealed by the meta-analysis of Johanna S. Kaplan and David F. Tolin published in psychiatric times. We tend to run away from the object of our fears and fear what we avoid.
To get out of this vicious circle, we must expose ourselves gradually and without fear to the elements that trigger our phobias. Make a list of situations that worry you in order of importance, and start with the least threatening. This first scenario could boil down to asking a stranger for directions, and the most worrying thing is to ask your boss for a raise.
It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t take you seriously. What matters is to do the process. Social anxiety makes you shy and needy, and you must be able to thwart it. It is sometimes a necessary evil: exposing oneself to one’s fears also means progressing and having self-confidence.
Take a Break
The more you let fear and anxiety dominate your life and control your brain, the more you mentally connect your concern to specific places or events. In Psychology Today, Eric R. Maisel suggests a visualization technique to calm anxiety by defining a mental image of relaxation.
It can be a sunset on a beach, grasses swaying in the wind, dancing fallen leaves from a tree. Or the swaying of a hammock under a blue sky to the song of birds. When you have found the perfect representation that relaxes you, make sure to associate all your other senses with it. What are the smells and sensations you feel? What sounds do you perceive? Repeat the exercise until it looks as natural as checking if there is a message on your cell phone.
Oneself is a way to yield tangible results. Find an inspiring mantra or phrase to help you attend an event or give a performance, or join a group without discomfort. Find the song or proverb that reassures you and gives you the most self-confidence before attending a meeting or performing. Remember that it is often the anticipation of a stressful situation that is the most distressing.
Muzzle Your Self-Criticism
Always self-criticism only increases apprehension and worry, as if you had a caricature of a mother-in-law in your head. Swap blame for truths: you’ll win the next marathon, toast the bride, or end a hostage-taking. And remember that there are infinite reasons for everything to go well, that you are competent and talented and deserve happiness!
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