Tips to Overcome Social Phobia
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia) is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world with almost 15 million Americans living with a more or less strong version of it. Both genders are equally affected. It's assumed that 5-10 % of all children and teenagers worldwide get symptoms of a social phobia once during their youth. Most people with social anxiety know, that there is something wrong, but they cannot exactly define what.
In foreground is the fear of being in social situations and getting judged by others. The certain situations, in which the "affected" is getting extreme nervousness or panic attacks, can vary form person to person. In most cases, the first social anxiety symptoms appear between the ages 12-14. In rare cases, some people even develop social anxiety during their childhood. Parents should be aware if their child constantly cries a lot before going to school or has extreme fits of anger without a clear reason. In this case, the anger can be a sign of helplessness. If a person already reached the age of 20, he is very good chanced to never get confronted with it.
Some people confound social phobia with "being shy". The difference is that most shy persons don't generally feel uncomfortable being in public transports, walking along in the city centre or sitting in school class without doing anything. People with social phobia are in general not shy, most of them are very open and communicative persons, but inner blockades prevent them in doing what they actually want to do.
The result is very often a strong avoidance behavior. If a patient is in fear of walking into a room with a lot of people already sitting in it, he or she will always try to be the first person in it. This fear can eat into the persons brain so far that (in our certain example) the patient is already extremely nervous a couple of hours before he/she has to go into the room. Not to think about he/she would be late one day. In a medium version of social anxiety, he/she would definitely think about going into the room or not.
What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?Fact is that some people think, social anxiety disorder cannot be prevented. But it rather depends on what caused it. Psychologist assume that social anxiety causes from
- genetical and/or
reasons. Some children (over-sensitive ones) are already genetically biased. If they grow up very isolated or too overprotected, then social anxiety is in all probabilty going to develop. Some parents try to prevent their children to make social contacts with other children. The children or teenagers in turn take great importance in other persons opinion without really believing in the good points the other persons would probably have about them in mind.
Long-term effects of social phobia depend on the strength of it. Some people with an extreme form of it are not even able to leave their house - thanks to the world wide web and a bunch of online-shops, who provide people with everything, a life in this condition is possible. Other persons cannot finish school, university or find a job due to extreme nervousness in front of other people. Even though they are very intelligent. Some persons only have a lighter form of social anxiety and can live an apparently normal life, because they "arranged" themselves. Possible long-term effects are i.a. complete isolation and strong depression.
But there is hope at the end of the tunnel. People, who suffer from social phobia have a very high chance to overcome it. Slowly and sometimes not completely, but until a point when life is enjoyable for them again. In many cases, the phobia "disappears" with a certain age.
How to Overcome Social Anxiety Disorder
If you think, you have social phobia and don't know what to do or want to help/understand a person with it, you are good to go to read our six tips, that will hopefully assist/ help you in overcoming it.
Tip 1 : Talk About It as Early as Possible
Most people, who start getting first symptons of social anxiety are between 12 and 15 years old. During this time, the anxiety is most probably not strong. The point is that most person affected live around 10 years with a strong or less strong form of social phobia until their are searching for professional help. The avoidance behaviour at this point is already strongly developed. So overcoming it now completely, takes much longer. The problem is that teenagers 1. don't know how to tell their family that there is something from and 2. nobody is noticing or knows why the person developing social anxiety is acting strange in certain situations. Many people think that a person with social anxiety is anti-social, arrogant or just shy. People with social anxiety are sometimes ashamed of telling others whats wrong with them. But overcoming a severe form of it alone or by reading books about it, is not possible. If you want, you can start searching for a good psychologist, who is specialised in the field. Don't say that you think, you have social anxiety, but only explain your thoughts and feelings. Also be aware of putting a label on you. Maybe you are fully okay, but other persons are telling you something else, because they don't mean it well with you. The initiative of helping yourself should come from nobody else than you.
Talk 2: Work Out
Working out is a very good stress releaser - for all types of people. Persons with social anxiety will most probably feel more stable and less "uncontrolled" after working out. Thing is that nobody should overdo it. 2-3 times a week for 2 hours is perfect. If you feel uncomfortable going into the gym by yourself, take a sibling or friend with you. After a certain time you can go there alone and will most likely notice, that everything is fine.
Tip 3: Find a Part-time Job in Which you Have to Interact with People
This is a step for people with a light form of social anxiety. A part-time job in which you have to interact with people will help you to get out of your comfort zone. You can hand out flyers or work at a supermarket checkout for a couple of weeks or months. If you have fear in talking to strangers, working in a callcenter can be an option. Thing is that there should always a next step by setting goals for yourself. You think you can't even handle the small interview to get the job? Then try to pass as much interviews as you can just to train yourself to sell yourself. Even though they are not going to take you, it doesn't matter. See it positive: you are one step further to overcome your social anxiety.
Tip 4: Make a Full Timetable
Don't give your brain time to even think about any "frightening" situations that can happen in future. Make a full timetable seven days a week. If you think you can't do anything on your own and you are too nervous to get out to visit people, start writing a diary. Many people with social anxiety are "universal amateurs". That means they are average in a lot of things - but can't do anything extremely good. Try to change this after a certain amount of time and ask yourself, in what you can be really good. Then work on it.
Tip 5: Stop Social Media
Most of the things people are posting on facebook, youtube and on any other social media platform don't show the reality. If you are wondering, why all of your classmates have so many friends, attend so many awesome parties and have such an amazing life, try to think about it in a different way. Why are they trying to show it on the internet? Why can't they only enjoy life without taking pictures or making videos of everything? Studies even showed that facebook makes depressed. That counts especially for younger girls, who are the most affected persons. Even though its really hard (for teenagers) to stay out of social media in the year 2016, setting yourself a limit can help.
Tip 6: Start Believing (in Yourself!)
You think people are watching you? Yes, they do. But they do it with everybody. If this makes you scared or uncomfortable, start building an inner barrier to protect yourself. Nobody will do anything to you by staring at you. Let people watch. Just think about the time you are wasting by changing the street side to avoid walking by a cafe with people sitting outside. This is not stoneage, when wild animals could attack you anytime. People are not biting, they are just talking. And what they can do, you can also do.