Social Anxiety: A Mental Barrier That Can Be Broken
Updated: Mar 18
Written by Lilia Shahal
What Is Social Anxiety?
Everyone has experienced nervousness or fear in social situations – whether it pertains to giving a presentation in front of one’s whole class or having a conversation with a stranger. However, social anxiety can be so severe that it prevents individuals from doing everyday things, stunting their own growth and possibly stopping them from reaching their full potential. Social anxiety is classified as an anxiety disorder; common feelings of anxiousness rise up in social situations and mainly stem from the individual feeling judged or humiliated by others around them. The National Institute of Mental Health states that about 7 percent of Americans deal with social anxiety so it is not uncommon to feel socially anxious.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
Little eye contact with others
Being self-conscious in front of other people, feeling embarrassed
Staying away from places with other people
Constant feeling of being judged
Social Anxiety During Covid-19
Many individuals living with social anxiety are probably overjoyed that the pandemic limits social interaction. Yet, a loss of social interactions can prolong the anxiety. This is because if individuals are not exposed to social situations, then there is no way to grow. Therefore, you should try to stay in contact with friends and family, whether that is through virtual communication or physical distancing. The people that matter in your life will provide you comfort and safety in these hard times. Make sure to check out “The Current State of Adolescent's Mental Health During Covid-19” written by Danielle Okotcha for more information on taking care of your mental state!
Treatments For Social Anxiety
If you experience several of the listed symptoms and/or notice that your anxiety in social settings is stopping you from fulfilling tasks to the fullest, it is so important to contact a mental health professional! Mental Health America recognizes that about 75 percent of individuals experience symptoms in their early adolescent years, so please reach out!
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Manages the response to physical and mental symptoms of social anxiety.
Exposure Therapy: Directly tackles social phobia by learning coping skills and applying them to social situations.
Support groups: These can be very beneficial because individuals can share their common fears and relate with one another.
Medications: Certain prescriptions such as antidepressants and beta-blockers can be issued for more severe cases.
Tips For Social Anxiety:
Regulate your breathing: try sitting in a comfortable position and focus on your breath. This can calm your rapid heartbeat and it allows you to only think about your breath instead of your racing thoughts.
Be present: take the focus off yourself by really listening to the conversation or event taking place. This will distract your mind from negative thoughts about your anxiety.
Talk back to negative thoughts: usually, social anxiety is induced through thinking that you are not worthy. Try to combat your negative thoughts through affirmations or challenging your negativity.
Using your senses: have a gadget or memory that brings you back to the present. Maybe that is rubbing a piece of jewelry or looking at a picture on your phone.
A Closing Note
You are not alone in your social anxiety struggles! So many individuals experience anxiety in social settings and you never know what someone is going on beyond their outer appearance and demeanor. Next time you feel like you are being judged, keep in mind that the other people around you are probably experiencing the same things. Don’t let your mental illness define you, you can get past it and reach your full potential!
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