Reviewed by Melinda (Santa) Gladden, LCSW
It can be very tough when you are suffering from some social anxiety disorder. What is social anxiety disorder? Well, having social anxiety makes it so that you do not feel very natural while you are out in public. You might even have a tough time doing normal things such as going to the grocery store if your social anxiety is particularly bad. What can you do to navigate life when you have a social anxiety disorder?
Keep reading to get some important information about how you can get through life when you are suffering from social anxiety. Many things are indeed more difficult when you have social anxiety, but many people have overcome this. You can learn to live with social anxiety to not have to hold you back from reaching your goals in life effectively. If you learn the best coping mechanisms, then you just might be surprised by what you will be able to accomplish.
Learn About Your Anxiety Triggers
There are going to be certain things that will trigger your anxiety more than others will. For instance, some people only experience severe social anxiety when they are in large crowds of people. Others might experience social anxiety when they are forced to work closely with people that they do not know that well. If you can learn about the types of situations that trigger you to feel anxious, you can learn to expect anxiety. Knowing that a situation will be likely to make you feel anxious can give you the ability to try to deal with it as well as you can.
It is also reasonable to consider ways that you can avoid certain social situations. You will not always avoid situations that make you feel anxious, but you can try to limit situations where you will be putting yourself in a vulnerable position. When you know that large crowds make you feel terrible, then you will be able to do your best to avoid large crowds. Maybe you could try to go shopping when the grocery store is not busy instead of waiting until the busy hours to get what you need. There are things that you can try out that will make a difference in your life.
Knowing about your anxiety triggers can also help you to work on getting better over time. If you know about the areas where you feel the weakest, you might seek help for those problems. Later, you are going to read more about methods for getting through social anxiety. Having a good understanding of what triggers social anxiety can make this process go faster because you will know what you need to work on. Just take a bit of time to sit down and figure out what triggers you to feel socially anxious.
Develop Coping Mechanisms
One of the best ways you can learn to navigate life with a social disorder is to develop coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms are ways for you to regain control when you feel your social anxiety taking over. If you are out in a store and you feel like you are having an anxiety attack, then you will be able to use a coping mechanism to get through it okay. Many people work on developing coping mechanisms with therapists, but you can also learn about them yourself and start trying to use them.
Some simple coping mechanisms will involve just trying to close your eyes and take deep breaths. If you can take yourself out of the moment that makes you feel anxious, you can start to make yourself calm down. Try to find your center and then focus on those calm feelings inside so that you can get through whatever it is that you are doing. There are many different coping techniques that people use, and you might find certain ones to be more effective than others.
You can do these little exercises whenever you feel like you need to calm down. You will sometimes feel fearful or awkward while you are out in public when you have a social phobia. People with social disorders will be able to make use of coping mechanisms to get through everyday situations. It could make going to work feel less problematic than usual.
Utilize Your Support System
Having a support system in place can make you feel a lot better when you have social anxiety. If you have people, you can turn to when you are feeling down or anxious, you can start changing your mood. There are likely going to be a few people in your life that you feel very comfortable around. Many people who have social anxiety will feel comfortable around family members or their best friends, but they might not feel comfortable around others.
If you can rely on the support of your best friends and family members, then you will be able to navigate life easier. You do not have to feel like you are facing things alone when you have people on your side that you can turn to. Many people use their support system to help them get things done. You might feel more comfortable in certain social situations if you have someone that you trust with you. Taking a friend to go grocery shopping might feel safer than trying to do this by yourself.
Of course, it is good to learn how to do things by yourself, but it can be nice to know that you can count on the people in your life. If you feel like you need to lean on your support system for help, you should not hesitate to do so. They can help you get things done when you need to, and you will be able to vent to them when you are having a tough time. Everyone needs to have a support system, whether they have social anxiety or not.
Talk To Your Doctor
Talking to your doctor is going to be wise when you are suffering from social anxiety. You should not just diagnose yourself with social anxiety and call it good. It is necessary to see your doctor get things figured out properly. If you need help figuring out whether you have an anxiety issue, you can always take this anxiety test. It will help you know that you are suffering from anxiety, and you can then talk to your doctor about what is going on.
Your doctor will be able to offer you some help with your social anxiety disorder in several ways. Social anxiety treatment is going to involve things such as medication and possibly therapy. Your doctor might very well recommend a therapist to you, but the doctor might also suggest therapy as a good option for dealing with social anxiety disorders. The most common way that doctors try to help people with social anxiety is that they prescribe medication.
There are various types of anti-anxiety medications on the market that can be beneficial to you. Your doctor will go over the options and will make the best choice based on your medical situation. Of course, not all doctors are going to start treating social anxiety issues with medication. Some might recommend therapy and potential lifestyle changes as ways to help you to get better. You can talk about things with your doctor and then go from there.
Go To Therapy
Therapy will make it a lot easier for you to figure out how to deal with severe social anxiety. You should know that therapists have helped millions of people and that this can make a difference in your life. It is good to consider therapy because it could allow you to work on coping mechanisms. You can learn how to confront situations that make you feel socially anxious so that you can get through them.
You will find that therapists will also help you get to the bottom of why you are feeling the way you do. Some people have social anxiety issues that will stem from something that happened in the past. For example, you could have developed social anxiety due to being bullied when you were a child. Many people go through situations like this, and they can help you get better if you are willing to address them. It can feel tough to confront the roots of your social anxiety, but you will be able to do so in a safe environment with a professional who cares about you.
Knowing your anxiety triggers can help your therapist to come up with good treatment methods. They will know what to focus on so that they can help you to get better over time. Some therapists will even help patients to feel less anxious about specific social situations. Some therapists have used exposure therapy for social anxiety issues, but the methods that your therapist will use might differ. Eventually, you will be able to feel substantially more confident in your ability to navigate social situations.
If you can go to therapy to work on your social issues, it will be possible to navigate life better. You do not have to continue to feel like certain aspects of life are impossible. It will take time to get yourself comfortable with certain social situations, but you can work on things with your therapist at a comfortable pace. Do not wait to reach out if you know that social anxiety issues have held you back in life.