To be alone and content…

Ever had that feeling where everybody is looking forward to a party, get together or a concert and you desperately hope that you don’t get invited because you hate being amidst multiple people? This can be a symptom of a person undergoing social anxiety or also known as social phobia.

What does anxiety mean?

Intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating and feeling tired may occur.  They may be normal situations which we face in our day to day life, but people with anxiety tend to get uncomfortable with reacting to those stimulus and become nervous and fearful of facing it resulting in several physical reactions similar to the ones that are experienced when we perceive danger.

People with social anxiety get restless and nervous when they have to face a social gathering or have to speak or present themselves to a group. This may arise due to lack of self-confidence or the fear of being judged, mocked, commented, humiliated, embarrassed or feeling inferior.  Some people may have specific fear of only talking in front of, or to a crowd, etc. while some may want to avoid any kind of social interactions at all. Although we don’t realize, it is a devastating traumatic condition that affects a vast majority of people worldwide hampering confidence and individual development.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety may be noticed when an individual has significant emotional tension when he/she:

  • Becomes the center of attraction
  • Has to explain things or talk in front of a group of people
  • Has to confront a stranger
  • Is being watched
  • Is being introduced or being teased or criticized
  • Has to meet important people

Some physical symptoms at aforementioned situations include:

  • Turning red or blushing
  • Racing heart and sweating
  • Intense fear
  • Muscle twitches, particularly around the face or neck, dysmorphia
  • Becoming extra self-conscious and aware
  • Experience heightened discomfort
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Dry throat and mouth

These people know that their fears and anxiety are irrational i.e. doesn’t make any sense, but they will still feel discomfort in those situations nevertheless. So even though they know their fears have no solid standing, they still inevitably have to face their fears in their day to day life.

Although one should approach a psychologist and undergo therapy as required, there are some exercises you can undertake to help yourself.

  • Mindfulness: become aware of your problem and train yourself to believe that it is your anxiety that perceives social gatherings as danger and not you. This will help in it continuing to affect you.
  • Examining thought processes: whenever you perceive a situation as a threat, ask yourself why you think so, ask yourself if what you think is the ultimate truth or can there be other side of the same story, think about the possible results there can be of that particular situation, introspect on how much do you really care about anybody’s opinion about you or your situation. The goal is to not imagine the worst case scenario and stick to it but think about how you can be wrong in perceiving the situation and how it doesn’t even matter to you or your work.
  • Desensitization: this means facing your fear in the eye in bits and parts for so long that it stops bothering you once and for all. This could be purposely putting yourself in an embarrassing situation that is under your own control till the embarrassment no longer exists and therefore being prepared to face any embarrassing situation furthermore. By doing this, you’re targeting your anxiety removal from the particular feeling and therefore get a fresher perspective of the situation that is less emotionally burdening and more comfortable.
  • Friends: having friends who can boost your confidence by helping your ability to take risks to overcome your disorder can be a stepping stone to overcome your disorder. Sharing your fears with supportive friends can help you get a positive outlook at your anxious behavior and thus face the problem altogether.
  • Distractions: having a positive distraction before, during or after anxiety has proven to be the best method to overwhelm senses and let the mind wander to something more relaxing and calm than the disturbing thoughts. Healthy distractions like exercise/sports, funny shows, hobbies, spending time with family friends or listening to relaxing or fun music can prove wonders in calming and avoid negative thinking.

It takes a lot of courage to undertake these steps and overcome the social fear. Turning negative thoughts into neutral thoughts is the basic way to go about it. If you plan on committing to yourself for your betterment, nothing can come your way.  After all, where there is a will, there is a way.

Written by Rimpa Sarkar

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