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What is Social Anxiety?
Before talking about social anxiety strategies, it’s kinda important to understand what it is.
DSM–5 defines it as “a persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.”
Do You Think You Might Have Social Anxiety?
Can you answer yes to most or any of these questions?: Do you find yourself avoiding public situations? Do you fear meeting new people? Do you feel panic with the thought of being called on in a meeting or public setting to speak? Do you avoid doing what you love because of the social aspects that might surround it? If you’re a parent, do you live with regret avoiding kids outings, sports, school events, etc., due to your phobia? Do you ever clam up or go silent in social situations, more than shy but a debilitating quiet almost to the point where you can’t gather your thoughts or be “yourself”?
I can check yes to a
ll of those boxes. Coming from a place of dealing with this issue from an extremely young age, about 1st grade, I understand that recognizing the problem is one thing, but finding solutions to actually navigate through life is the most crucial step.
Ways To Cope With Social Anxiety
- Therapy. This has been the absolute most helpful tool. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy has been beneficial. Finding the right therapist that is a good fit is key. You have to build trust, feel comfortable to express your feelings, all while being hyper-concened that particular person judging you. Once you find that fit, KEEP that person and do the work. Yes, it takes work. Finding the root of where your anxiety lies is key.
- Medications. This one is tricky for me. I deal with so many side effects from medications that I’ve never truly found one that fits my needs as far as helping with my symptoms of anxiety but not resulting in other symptoms I would rather not have. In particular, the sexual side effects of nearly every anxiety medication on the market are a killer in my marriage. Not saying this doesn’t work for some. I have family members who do so well with anxiety medications and don’t nearly experience the side effects I do. For myself, it’s an either/or situation. I have to choose between a relationship with zero sexual satisfaction to get relief from a medication. Not fun! For this very reason, it has been my personal goal to find ways to cope without medication.
- Self-help programs. As a social anxiety sufferer, self-help books are my jam. I’m constantly trying to find ways to be the best version of myself. Audiobooks are great because I can listen to them on the go while carpooling or running errands. As I go through books or programs, I’ll add them to my blog and share my experiences with you. Check out the next 2 that I’m trying and stay tuned for my upcoming feedback through my blog!