This is a writing sample from Scripted writer Aly Reis
Are you struggling with social anxiety? You're not alone: social anxiety affects around 15 million adults in the US. It is one of the most common mental illnesses around the world.
Social anxiety can be a frustrating obstacle as you navigate life. It's easy to distance yourself from friends, hobbies, or anything that triggers your social anxiety symptoms. With such an overwhelming disorder, it makes everyday tasks a challenge.
Your life doesn't need to be dictated by your social anxiety. There are ways to ease your symptoms and rekindle your social life. Here are 3 tips for coping with social anxiety.
1. Breathing Exercises
When someone says "just breathe," it sounds condescending; but there is some truth to it. Breathing exercises calm anxiety in the moment. While these yoga-inspired exercises aren't a magical cure, they can be an effective method against overwhelming anxiety symptoms.
Do you struggle with breathing or staying calm in social situations? There's an art to breathing through your anxiety. Here are a few breathing exercise tips:
Focus solely on your breathing
Breathe in through your nose gently for four seconds
Feel your upper abdomen expand as you inhale
Breathe out through your mouth gently for eight seconds
Feel your upper abdomen shrink as you exhale
Use these breathing exercises when you feel overwhelmed by your social anxiety. If you are still struggling with your symptoms, look for a quiet place to breathe. Loud noises and crowded rooms can escalate your anxiety symptoms, so remove yourself from that situation until you feel comfortable again.
2. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Despite its name, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is not a physical therapy session. ACT is a therapeutic method to reduce social anxiety symptoms by teaching acceptance and positive self-reflection. This coping skill teaches you how to live with your anxiety.
Many people with social anxiety worry that others can perceive their social anxiety. They feel embarrassed by their social anxiety symptoms which can lead to more anxiety issues. According to ACT, you don't have to feel self-conscious about shaky hands, nervous sweating, or shallow breathing.
To learn ACT, follow these positive principles:
Acknowledge your symptoms when they happen
Accept the possibility of your symptoms appearing
Embrace the idea of people noticing your anxiety
Be open to attending important events anxiously
Expose yourself to social situations without overexerting yourself
ACT mainly relies on changing your inner voice. Mental habits take time and motivation to develop, but the results can be life-changing. When negative thoughts around your social anxiety form, make an active effort to be positive and understanding. Talk to yourself as if talking to a loved one who needs emotional support.
Missing special events like family reunions, weddings, and birthdays can be more detrimental to your mental health than your social anxiety. ACT teaches that some social situations are worth experiencing anxiously. Be honest with yourself and mindful of your limitations.
3. Question Your Thoughts
Anxious thoughts thrive on negativity and confusion. Explore your thoughts when your social anxiety feels overwhelming. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Why do I feel anxious?
Do I expect too much from myself?
Am I exaggerating my situation?
Are my thoughts extreme for my situation?
Would I talk to others like I talk to myself?
Can I change the situation?
These questions can help you understand yourself and your anxiety. When you reflect on your situation from an outside perspective, you gain control of your thoughts. As you continue to explore yourself and your thoughts, this coping mechanism gradually builds confidence and understanding around your social anxiety.
Coping with Social Anxiety
From shaky hands to self-isolation, social anxiety is a serious issue; but your mental illness does not define you. Add these practical coping skills to your mental health arsenal, and you will have more control over your social life. Coping with social anxiety is possible.
Is your social anxiety negatively affecting your life? Contact your primary care physician for more information on social anxiety disorder and treatment.
Alyssa is a freelance blogger, editor, and proofreader based in the Northwest. She works with a company to create SEO-optimized articles that boost web traffic for businesses. While she has experience in many topics, she has the most experience in content around education, health products, home design, and pet care. Her three cats are great assistants for any project.