Your heart starts being faster, your palms start getting sweaty, and you feel like the world around your starts whirling round and round without any indication of stopping. Does this sound at all familiar to you? I BET it does!
I always felt this way when I had social anxiety, when I had to finally face my fears and go head first into a scary social situation. During school term, I always dreaded doing presentations, or having to go into a new class alone all by myself. I could still remember the days vividly, where I ended up having worse effects such as headaches and stomachaches because of all this anxiety. In worst cases, I had to make several trips to the toilet in an hour just right before the presentation!
But is there really any way to cope with this social anxiety so that it does not end up overwhelming you? Yes, of course, there definitely is. If you have not still realized by now, everybody suffers from this type social anxiety to some extent, it is just that most people have become desensitized to these feelings and it has become not a very big deal to them. Do you honestly think that the good public speakers you see now got up there today without feeling this way when they first started presenting in front of a large crowd?
So how can you actually start coping with this social anxiety so that it will not end up consuming your whole life and overwhelming you? Well, in my quest to learn how to cope with this social anxiety, I have found a few ways and techniques which can help to overcome social anxiety whenever it comes out. Even though some of these methods can seem pretty simple, do not belittle the effectiveness of them. You might have heard of some of these methods before, but if you have, pay more attention and detail to them for the way I used them might be different from how you have approached them in the past.
Now the one thing that I have to remind all of you in advance is that: Do not just read and read about all these techniques and then not apply them at all! This is the single and biggest mistake any shy person can make, as often in those situations they might be too anxious to remember that they have read such a technique before. To avoid this, you have to constantly remind yourself and practice in your free time, so that you know what to do when social anxiety starts creeping into you again.
But remember though, these techniques are not a cure for social anxiety, but rather just something to help you to overcome your social anxiety in the very short term, so that you can become more relaxed and operate more normally.
1.Learn How to Be Very, Very, Very Relaxed
If you have had any experience in psychology or read any articles on psychology before, you would probably know that the mind and the body are actually very closely interconnected. The main reason why people start getting symptoms such as sweating, blushing, headaches, etc when they feel anxiety is because the mind is actually starting to affect the body.
But here’s the catch: The opposite is actually also true, which means that the state your body is currently in also will be able to affect the state your mind is in greatly. Therefore, by making your body into a completely and totally relaxed state, your mind would also start to follow along. This effect is also known as psychosomatic in psychology terms.
How can you then change your body behaviour in order to reduce your level of anxiety? Well, the main point is that you should try to become as relaxed as you can in every part of your body.
Start by going through all the muscle groups in your head and try to release a little bit of tension in each muscle group. Then continue on with your face, unclench your jaw, rest your eyebrows and start to relax your cheeks. Then continue on down to your shoulders and hands, drop them bit by bit by relaxing all those muscles. You should be feeling a little bit of relief every time you are releasing a bit of tension in each muscle group, if you have done it correctly.
In order to achieve the best results, you should aim to try and make your body as limp and lazy as possible, and I guarantee you that you will feel like a completely different person. You will actually still feel a little bit of anxiety, because you can’t change it overnight, but you would probably feel a lot better with a lot less anxiety.
Ah, breathing deeply to reduce your level of anxiety. You must probably think that you have heard this numerous times and think that it is useless. But if you honestly ask yourself, have you ever put this method to good use. You probably have, but only on a few occasions. And on those few occasions, did you feel a little better? I bet you did, except that you might have only felt just a little bit better and felt it was not enough.
To increase the effectiveness of this method, what you should do is to change the way you breathe. Take note of your breathing the next time you are feeling any social anxiety. You would probably find that you are breathing abnormally because your mind has actually taken over your body, and your breathing actually is making you feel worse, rather than better! So even though you try to breathe deeply the same way, it might not have any kind of effect at all.
The reason for this is because when you start feeling any kind of anxiety, your body actually starts to think that you are in a dangerous situation, and puts you into a “Fight or Flight” mode. One of the effects of being in this mode is that your breathing patterns are also changed – you would find yourself breathing shallowly and taking faster and quicker breaths through your chest instead of your belly.
This kind of breathing is actually very good if you are in an emergency situation and need to run as quickly as possible to escape from danger, but it actually has a negative effect if you are in a completely safe situation and just feeling social anxiety in awkward situations.
In order to change this, you can simply learn how to breathe through your belly instead of breathing through your chest. A lot of people who suffer from social anxiety or shyness only breathe through their chest their whole life and never learn how to breathe through their belly.
So how do you actually breathe through your belly? Your stomach should actually be expanding when you are breathing in, and your stomach should contract when you are breathing out, and there should be no movement in your chests or shoulders. This is also known as diaphragmatic breathing in psychology terms.
For people who have been suffering from social anxiety and using their chests to breathe their whole life, it may actually take bit of time to get used to breathing through the belly. For these people, they can start slowly by practicing, by lying down on their backs and putting one hand on their belly and one hand on their chests respectively. Then when you are breathing, try to only be moving the hand that is on your belly and keep the hand that is on your chest as still as possible.
Slowly take steady breaths in and out and then try to make them longer and longer. Also only use your nose to breathe in and use your mouth to breathe out. The moment you have gotten the hang of belly breathing, you should aim to be doing it all the time. To achieve the best results, you can just spend 10-15minutes the instance you wake up or before you go to sleep just to practice this type of breathing.
Whenever you are feeling anxious or feeling any kind of anxiety, your body will start to want to go back to breathing through the best again. As long as you are alert enough and not allow your body to change it, you will find that this will actually help you to reduce your anxiety by a great deal.
Remember to Practice
The problem with most people today is that they just tend to read and read about stuff and then completely forget about them the next day. If you are really serious about dealing and coping with social anxiety, then keep these two techniques in your heart and practice them everyday, everywhere you go and whenever you are free. Only then will you be able to feel more comfortable and better in social situations.
The last thing to note is that these methods are just for the short term, for you to deal with specific situations. They are more than enough if you only suffer from a slight level of social anxiety. But if you suffer from a more severe case of social anxiety, then these methods might still not be the best over the long run, as it does not solve the root of the problem. In order to get to the root of the problem, it is still required to find a cure for social anxiety, which this book might help you out a lot.