Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

What is social anxiety?

Most of us have experienced a mild form of social anxiety before attending a function. Behavioral therapists will often ask the client to rate their fear on a scale of 0 – 10. If 10 was a panic attack, then most of us would have experienced between a 3 and a 5 at some point in our lives. The difference is, most people would still go to the party and have a good time. The person suffering from social phobia would stay at home.

How do I know if I have a social anxiety disorder?

It is not difficult to diagnose social anxiety. There are three things to look out for.

  1. You do not have another mental illness that causes the same symptoms.
  2. Your anxiety is triggered exclusively in social situations.
  3. Avoiding social gatherings.

What is fueling my anxiety?

Mind-reading or future telling, assuming what people might think of you or predict what terrible thing will happen next. Exaggerating the negative outcome of an event in your mind and trusting that distorted thought. Always focusing on the negative and disregarding the positive side of the narrative.

Treatment

The most common treatments for social anxiety is a combination of psychotherapy and drugs. Recent studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy, without medication, is producing the best results. Treating social phobia with drugs lead to dependency. When a patient decides to wean off the medication, the physical symptoms of anxiety most often resurface. CBT is out-performing other schools of thought with an 85% success rate in the treatment of social anxiety. This still means 15% of those been treated by behavioral therapists are not enjoying any results. In many instances, their fear of judgment and rejection are not unfounded. CBT practitioners have a high success rate due to their method of proving to the client that their phobia is irrational. 

If you want to go the DIY route, then you could try the following. Challenge your negative automatic thought. You might think, “If I go to this party tonight, I will say something stupid and totally humiliate myself.”. Challenge this thought by asking, “Am I guaranteed to make a fool of myself, as this has not always happened in the past?” “If I find the courage to attend this party, I am likely to prove myself wrong and perhaps even enjoy the event.”. If you don’t feel ready to attend a party just yet, then make that your goal and build up to it slowly. Start by greeting an acquaintance and beginning a simple conversation. Ask that person how they are or compliment them on a new hairstyle. Once you feel comfortable with some regular small talk, invite that person for coffee. This could develop into a regular thing and progress to an after-work meet-up with a few colleagues.

Breathing Technique

Someone suffering from anxiety should be able to recognize an oncoming panic attack and know what to do. A great technique for stopping a panic attack in its tracks is moving your attention to the breath. Emergency room physicians often tell people suffering from panic attacks to breathe into a paper bag. The theory that re-breathing exhaled, carbon dioxide-rich air will raise carbon dioxide levels in the blood and stop the panic attack. Some might say the paper bag exercise has a placebo effect. Regardless of whether the theory is right or wrong, there are countless testimonies to support it. Any breathing practice that promotes deeper breaths, taking in more oxygen, is beneficial to the victim. Ultimately, we want the victim to steer away from short, shallow breaths and encourage deep diaphragmatic breathing.

Breathing exercise

Check in with ourselves

Many people encounter unkindness in social situations. An unkind word towards a person suffering from social anxiety, prove that their fear is not unfounded. This makes the therapist’s job far more challenging. The fact remains, people are publicly humiliated, gossiped about and rejected by others from all demographics. Fear does not always originate from irrational thinking. Sometimes our anxiety stems from real life encounters. We can all be guilty of triggering another person’s anxiety in social situations. Very often our response to someone telling a joke could cause that person to withdraw and reaffirm their fear. Before engaging with another person, we should check in with ourselves and analyze what we are about to say.

Don’t camouflage the issue

Alcohol is very often a culprit in establishing long-term social anxiety. It causes people to be less attentive to what they say, not been mindful of another person’s emotional state. Using alcohol to socialize will never help a person overcome social phobia and can lead to addiction. There are many ways of camouflaging the presenting issue, which only prevents a person from overcoming their anxiety.

The best is to seek help from someone who has experience and a proven track record in treating social anxiety disorder. At some point, you will need to face your fears. In extreme cases, this is often easier under the guidance of a qualified professional.

Looking out for one another

I hope whoever reads this article can empathize with others who are struggling with this difficult mental health issue. Most people with anxiety are good at hiding their symptoms to a certain degree. Symptoms to look out for; blushing, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling or speaking with a shaky voice. We can show compassion and support, simply by imagining ourselves in their shoes.

If anything, I hope to make people aware of what others are going through. Mental health articles like this are not just aimed at people struggling with issues. We should all educate ourselves on such topics, as it affects so many in our society.

Please leave a comment below and consider sharing your own experience. We would love to hear how you overcame your anxiety or how you are managing it. Should you feel the need to reach out, contact me HERE

Controlling Negative Emotion

emotion

Human Emotion

The study of human emotion is still a work in progress. Psychologists are still trying to figure out to what degree our emotions affect our daily lives. We all experience varying levels of anger throughout the day. The question is…How much negative emotion is acceptable? Controlling negative emotion is not always easy, and for some of us near impossible. How do I know if I have a borderline personality disorder?

Regulating Emotions

Controlling negative emotion can save us from a lot of mental and physical pain. We don’t want to have our emotions run away with us when we stuck in traffic. If we allow our anger to spill out when someone does something foolish in their car can lead to a violent confrontation. An altercation can
cause physical injury, as well as negative feelings of embarrassment and regret, long after the incident. If the incident was serious enough, it could have a lasting effect on our mental health.

There are times when it is helpful to release emotion, which is best done in a controlled environment. Most of us can do a bit of self-analyzation to determine the severity of our emotional state. How are we reacting after the third or fourth mishap of the morning? Are we letting out the odd swear word or are we punching the wall, or bursting out in tears? In most cases, an individual will know when it is advisable to seek some help from a mental health coach or psychotherapist.

Sometimes we will see that we are reacting differently to others, or someone witnessing our behavior might recommend professional help.

Controlling negative emotion

There are techniques available to us in regulating emotional outbursts. Sometimes a good self-help book can do the trick. Let’s look at some strategies that can help us manage our emotions for the betterment of our wellbeing:

  1. Recognize the familiar feeling of rage building up inside.
  2. Pause and breathe. You have been down this road before. Allow yourself a moment to pause and take a few deep breaths.
  3. You have got to step 3 without an impulsive reaction. Continue breathing and visualize yourself calming down rapidly.
  4. Notice the physical signs of stress subside as you shift your attention to your breath. Once your body has escaped fight or flight mode, think how good it feels to be in control of your emotions.
  5. Discuss your experience with a trusted friend or your mental health coach. This will give you an opportunity to offload some of the bottled up emotion.

Consistency

Controlling negative emotion consistently is a challenge most of us face. The best way to achieve consistent control is by playing out a scenario before it happens. Imagine yourself losing your brand new cell phone before you had the chance to insure it. Your trigger might be something far less significant like not being able to style your hair the way you like it. Whatever sets you off is important and should be addressed before it happens again.

Some of us struggle with anger and do not always know how to manage it. There is no reason to suffer alone, especially if you suspect having a borderline personality disorder. If you are worried about losing control in the future, then that is reason enough to seek help. Mindfulness is a proven method of regaining self-control. There is no shame in seeking help. The fact that you want to gain control over your emotions is a sure sign of strength.

I hope this short article has been insightful and informative.

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