• By Amanda Blackburn.

Are You Socially Anxious?

Are you missing out by avoiding situations due to your anxiety?

When you are socially anxious you feel like everyone else is stronger and more confident than you, it is important to understand that if you are socially anxious, you are not alone! Almost everyone gets anxious about something, it is part of human nature and we all have it. When our brain senses danger, it activates a part of our nervous system that causes us to experience anxious feelings and without it, we would take unnecessary risks. So maybe you are afraid of spiders, bees, wasps, birds, school exams, having to give a speech or lots of other different things. We all have our worries and have something we are scared of and the good news is that we can all overcome our anxieties. A form of psychological therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help most people overcome their anxiety. With regular CBT practice anxiety, sufferers can learn to control their anxieties instead of allowing their anxieties to control them. So what is CBT? CBT is based on research about how emotions work and what people can do to feel better. We can't get rid of anxiety altogether but we can learn to control it. It is important to remember that anxiety is a tool that we need for survival, we need anxiety to alert us to danger. Sometimes, however, we are alerted to the thought of dangers that haven't actually happened and this isn't actually your fault. There are three causes of social anxiety;

  1. Genetic Disposition-Scientists haven't discovered a specific social anxiety gene yet, but just like brown eyes or curly hair, anxiety is passed down through generations.

  2. Upsetting Events-A traumatic disaster may trigger worry about a repeat performance, this could be a mean teacher who shamed you in front of your class to forgetting your lines in your school play.

  3. Parent Modeling-If your parents are overly cautious, shy, preoccupied with making good impressions and rarely socialise this may contribute to your anxiety.

When you get anxious you will probably experience sensations in your body. If you are socially anxious you will worry that people will notice your physical symptoms and negatively judge you.

Here are a list of common physical symptoms that your body will feel when your mind sends a danger signal to your body;

  • Shaky voice

  • Pounding heart, tightness in the chest

  • Nausea, diarrhoea or butterflies in your stomach

  • Tingling or numbness in your arms, legs or face

  • Muscle tension or shaking

  • Feeling hot or cold

  • Blushing or sweating

  • Tightness in your throat, dry throat and difficulty swallowing

  • Light headed, dizzy and breathless.

Remember that your physical symptoms of anxiety are much more obvious to you than they are to other people.

These physical symptoms will probably leave you feeling, embarrassed, anxious, insecure, inadequate, lonely, hopeless, ashamed, depressed, frustrated, disappointed, jealous, confused and angry.

When you suffer from social anxiety you will feel like other people are judging you. These thoughts will trigger the danger signals in your body and start some or all of the above physical symptoms. These physical symptoms will then affect your feelings making you want to run away and hide.

My daughter has suffered from social anxiety and it has had a massive impact on all of our life's. I'm convinced that it is what triggered the onset of her Crohn's Disease. I wish I had known what I do now, back then, I would have been more helpful if I had understood what social anxiety was.

So many people suffer from social anxiety and feel so alone and silly. When people face situations that make them anxious, avoidance is the most common action they take. Avoidance prevents the thing that they are afraid will happen from happening. My daughter tried to avoid the things that caused her social anxiety but when she was at school this was pretty impossible. Since she has learnt about social anxiety and understood her physical symptoms she doesn't panic anymore and has some control.

She now treats her anxiety as a gift, a gift that has taught her how to mentally control her own physical symptoms. A gift that has taught her to understand the feelings of others and never to judge.

You are not alone and You can master your social anxiety too!

Next week I will teach you some tips and CBT methods that have helped my daughter control her anxiety.

What makes you feel most anxious?

If you would like to comment below I will include your anxiety in next week's post with a method of helping. Don't worry though I will not include your name and e-mail, your details are kept private and not shared with anybody else.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post, hope it helps you understand a bit more about social anxiety, please share so it can help others! x

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