You are in the supermarket doing your weekly shopping. Suddenly you feel hot, sweaty, and an overwhelming sensation makes you feel an impending doom. Your senses race as you listen to the screeching of cartwheels and the chatter of those around you.
The lights seem blinding and the noise unbearable. You are not dying, but the symptoms of social anxiety You experience shopping to be extremely uncomfortable. Some find it difficult to breathe and catch their breath, while others feel dizzy and have chest pains.
Social anxiety disorder is quite common and, according to American Anxiety and Depression Association, affects around 15 million people in this country. Approximately seven percent of the population faces these uncomfortable sensations on a daily basis. The good news is that this condition can be treated.
The problem is that when left untreated for long periods, it can transform into agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in social settings. People with agoraphobia tend to find a safe place, such as home, and do not want to leave. They become lonely and avoid social gatherings for fear of another attack.
Agoraphobia is a serious mental illness that makes life unbearable. You are not living when you are so afraid of not leaving your home or going to a family reunion. Fortunately, there are ways to combat these feelings to retrain the brain so it is not afraid of social interaction.
Twenty Helpful Ways to Fight Social Anxiety
However, you have the power to stop these sensations simply by standing up and fighting this mental illness. The harder you try to get out and socialize, the easier it becomes. These are the best ways to combat the uncomfortable effects of social anxiety.
1. Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings
Symptoms of social anxiety will paralyze you if you allow them. Fortunately, you can combat negative thought patterns by journaling. Keeping a journal gives you a space to take out all the negativity and record your progress. It serves as a place where you can let everything out and let it go.
2. Try a herbal supplement
Many herbal supplements serve as excellent anxiety aids. Things like lavender, kava, lemongrass, chamomile, and valerian can help balance the chemicals in your brain, relieving the symptoms you feel.
One of the problems people with social anxiety have is that they spend so much time worrying that they don’t laugh or even smile a lot. Laughter is very healing for you, and when you laugh out loud, you are releasing those feel-good hormones into your system. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can be as effective as other treatment methods that have unwanted side effects.
4. Avoid sugar
Few people know that sugar and anxiety are connected. When your blood glucose levels rise, it automatically causes an increase in pressure. If you experience panic attacks after consuming a lot of sweets, it is because sugar interferes with the body’s natural physiology.
5. Set goals
Set small achievable goals that increase over time. For example, today, you will sit in the car for 15 minutes. Tomorrow, you can drive down the street for two blocks. Don’t expect your social anxiety symptoms to go away overnight, but you can start using exposure therapy to get back to a normal life.
6. Take a vacation
Sometimes social anxiety appears during times of intense stress. You may need a change of scenery. Why not take a vacation and regroup? Your brain can be overloaded and requires some downtime.
7. Spend time in nature
Is there anything more perfect than spending time outdoors? There is something wonderfully healing about sunlight and a gentle breeze. If you are too locked inside, one of the ways to begin the healing process is to go out and absorb some vitamin D.
8. Ditch caffeinated drinks
Caffeine is a stimulant drug that can increase your heart rate and respiration. On its own, this drug can make you anxious, but it can be a nightmare when you add an anxiety disorder to the mix. Avoid caffeinated drinks and see if your anxiety improves.
9. Start saying yes
Your friends and family may no longer ask you to do things because the answer is always no. Start saying yes to invitations and don’t back down at the last minute either.
10. Join a support group
Remember, you are not alone in this fight. Almost seven percent of the population suffers from anxiety. Find an online support group to share your stories and get tips on how to overcome them.
Once you’ve taken a few steps to re-acclimatize with society, congratulate yourself. The brain’s reward centers respond positively to praise, so go ahead and pat yourself on the back.
12. Replace negativity with positivity
Part of the social anxiety symptoms that is difficult to overcome are all the toxic negativities. You think things like:
- I’m going to pass out.
- I feel like I can’t breathe.
- People look at me weird.
- The atmosphere seems strange.
Whenever a negative thought enters your mind, stop it in its tracks. Replace them with a positive one. For example, when your brain tells you that you are going to pass out, it reminds yourself that you have not passed out that far with this disorder, so it is doubtful that you will now.
13. Talk about it in counseling
Counseling is a great tool to get all that negativity out there. It would be helpful if you got to the crux of what is causing the increased anxiety so you can fight it.
14. Realize that you are not perfect
Did you know that perfectionism and social anxiety often coexist? You must realize that you or anyone else on this planet is not perfect. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be something impossible.
15. Use positive affirmations
Start each morning by fighting your social anxiety symptoms before they start. Say things like:
• I will not be afraid to go to the store today.
• I will run all my errands without anxiety.
• Anxiety will no longer dictate my day.
• I will not allow any feelings of anxiety to prevent me from doing what I love.
When you start feeding your mind and soul with positive affirmations, it will change your life.
16. Retail therapy
While you don’t want to trade one topic for another, retail therapy can help. You can push yourself by telling yourself that you will buy yourself a new outfit if you do it today to leave the house. While you can’t do this every day, the little rewards provide you with an incentive and a reason to keep going.
17. Visualize what you want
Have you tried the new virtual reality games? Experts have started using them in therapy, as they help with exposure. You don’t have to invest in an expensive gaming system to envision an alternate reality. Imagine walking through the store, aisle by aisle, with no problems.
Since most of the battle takes place in your mind, this is where you must begin to combat these opposing forces. If you visualize yourself free of social anxiety symptoms, it won’t be long until it happens.
18. Practice being present in the moment
If you are in a social gathering and you feel those anxiety symptoms showing up, then this is a great time to practice grounding yourself. Find things in the space that you observe, such as flow, paint color, wall art, and other details. By shifting your focus to something that drags you into this space, you will release some of the social anxiety symptoms that you feel.
19. Appreciate alone time
Did you know that many people with social anxiety are introverts by nature? Introverts need time to recharge their emotional batteries, and they can do this only by spending time alone. Sometimes it’s okay to be alone; make sure there is time to socialize as well.
20. Use internal dialogue
Talk to yourself it is one of the most excellent anti-anxiety tools you have. If you feel overwhelmed at a stoplight, you can convince yourself of this elevated state. Telling yourself that you have been to tens of thousands of traffic lights in your life and that you were never harmed will help dispel the fears that anxiety fills your mind.
It is challenging to combat the symptoms of social anxiety. Some people may have trouble with SAD for a short time, while others may have a lifelong battle. Just give yourself the time and the right tools to manage this disorder, and it will soon take over your life.
Anxiety doesn’t have to win. You may be depressed, but you certainly don’t have to go out. Your home may seem like a haven, but there is a beautiful and exciting world out there waiting for you to explore, but first you must learn to control your anxiety.