Social anxiety is a fear of social situations that can be long-lasting. The anxiety experienced is usually distressing and have an impact on general wellbeing. Social anxiety can affect everyday activities, confidence, relationships, self-esteem and work. At one time or another, it’s natural to feel anxious or shy in a social situation, however social anxiety is more than just shyness and represents a feeling of anxiety about a social situation before, during and after the interaction or event. If you are experiencing social anxiety it’s common to feel nervous about a range of activities such as: meeting strangers, starting a conversation, talking on the phone, eating out, meeting friends, or any activity that may involve a social interaction. Often people worry they will perform in some sort of unacceptable way and fear they will be judged by others.
Actions that can help
- Try to limit your avoidance if you can. Whilst it can make you feel uncomfortable accepting invitations to events which you normally try and avoid, it can be helpful to try and build up your surrounding networks and maintain relationships with those close to you as these can be important sources of support.
- Physical activity and exercise can help to ease some of the common symptoms of anxiety.
- By being mindful of your diet and sleep and engaging in regular exercise, you can help to improve your overall mental wellbeing which can build resilience and resources. It’s important to look after yourself.
- You may find writing down your thoughts or worries about social situations, associated feelings, and how you would like things to be different (goals) helpful. Writing distressing thoughts and feelings down can help us understand them and gain some space from them. Often exposure to social situations, although anxiety provoking, can overtime help us manage anxiety more effectively as the experiences we have can shift any worries about being in a social situation.
- There is no one way to treat social anxiety. If self-help isn’t working, reach out for additional help or support from a friend, family member, or healthcare professional.