Social anxiety disorder affects up to 13% of the U. S. population and is characterized by an intense fear of social situations in which you anticipate being evaluated negatively. Social anxiety, like other anxiety challenges, can affect your ability to succeed professionally and develop close, meaningful relationships with others, which limits your overall happiness in life.
- Social anxiety can impede your professional success and prevent you from having meaningful relationships
- Social anxiety is often present with other anxiety challenges
- Seven strategies to overcome social anxiety that you can practice at home
- Treatment for social anxiety is often effective
Is social anxiety affecting your life in damaging ways?
Social anxiety gets in the way of your career success, your personal relationships, your mental health, and even your daily functioning.
- Fear of being judged or making mistakes in front of others can make you avoid speaking in front of others, networking, and self-promotional opportunities, which will limit your potential to succeed professionally.
- Social anxiety can make you avoid any situations where you will have to meet new people or interact with others. Yet this also deprives you of the opportunity to develop close, meaningful relationships with other people, and leads to loneliness, isolation, and a reduced quality of life.
- Additionally, social anxiety also often coexists with other mental health conditions such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, insomnia, OCD, or low self-esteem. The constant fear and avoidance of social situations can exacerbate these conditions, leading to a negative spiral of mental health issues.
- Social anxiety can even interfere with your daily activities such as going to the grocery store, using public transportation, and participating in informal local community events. It can lead to avoidance behaviors, increased stress levels, and disrupt your daily routines, affecting your ability to lead a fulfilling and productive life.
7 strategies for social anxiety that you can practice at home
Social anxiety can be challenging to deal with, especially as it can affect so many areas of your life, but there are several strategies you can practice at home to help you overcome social anxiety:
- Challenge negative thought patterns: Social anxiety is often fueled by negative thinking and self-doubt. Start noticing and challenging these thoughts. Ask yourself if they are really true or based on false assumptions, and try to reframe them in a more positive light.
- Gradual exposure: Gradual exposure to social situations that trigger anxiety can help desensitize you to them. Start with small steps, such as attending low-pressure social events or practicing social skills with a trusted friend or therapist. Gradually increase the difficulty of the situations as you become more comfortable.
- Learn relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can help reduce anxiety symptoms. Practice relaxation techniques regularly to become more comfortable in social situations.
- Challenge avoidance behaviors: Avoiding social situations may provide temporary relief, but it can reinforce social anxiety in the long run. Challenge yourself to confront situations that trigger anxiety, and gradually reduce how often you let yourself avoid social situations.
- Build social skills: Social anxiety can be linked to a lack of social skills or confidence. Practice assertiveness, active listening, and other social skills to improve your ability to interact with others and build self-confidence.
- Take good care of yourself: Maintaining good physical health, getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly can all contribute to improved mental well-being and help manage social anxiety.
- Develop a support system: Having a supportive network of friends, family, or a support group can provide encouragement, understanding, and a sense of belonging. Opening up to trusted individuals about social anxiety can help you feel less isolated and more supported in your journey to overcome social anxiety.
Treatment for social anxiety
Where social anxiety is impacting your life beyond what you’re able to alleviate with these strategies, it can be especially helpful to get professional support. A trained mental health professional can give you personalized guidance such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) combined with practical skills to help you overcome your anxiety.
Many people report the biggest improvement to their anxiety when combining psychotherapy with medication. Several medications are efficacious for the treatment of social anxiety disorder, with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and brofaromine specified as often being most effective across all the medications examined.
Fortunately, social anxiety disorder is highly treatable and most people start noticing improvements to their symptoms in as little as a few weeks to a month of beginning treatment. With the right guidance, you can get control of your life, develop the courage to overcome your anxiety and enjoy the newfound confidence and successes that you gain in the process.
Reach out today
If you seeking professional, effective treatment and medication management for social anxiety, make an appointment now. I am an experienced psychiatrist and I specialize in working with patients just like you. I want to help you reduce anxious feelings and reach your goals. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Leichsenring, F., & Leweke, F.M. (2017). Social Anxiety Disorder. The New England Journal of Medicine, 376, 2255–2264.
Blanco, C., Schneier, F.R., Schmidt, A.P., Blanco-Jerez, C., Marshall, R.D., Sánchez-Lacay, A., & Liebowitz, M.R. (2003). Pharmacological treatment of social anxiety disorder: A meta‐analysis. Depression and Anxiety, 18.