If you fear being judged by others, are self-conscious in social situations, and the idea of meeting new people triggers anxiety, you may have social anxiety disorder if you’ve been having these feelings for more than six months.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Social anxiety disorder is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other daily activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. The good news is social anxiety disorder is treatable.”
NIMH reports that symptoms range from mild to moderate and can last several hours or be long-lasting, interfering with everyday activities and disrupting relationships.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) fills a person with excessive worry, making them highly nervous in their social interactions, negatively impacting their ability to function.
Here are five common examples of how social anxiety disorder affects people and ways to manage it.
1) Public Speaking
Most people admit fear of public speaking. So it’s not surprising that it’s a common source of social anxiety. People suffering from SAD are afraid of public speaking because of being judged or examined closely by an audience – like being put under a magnifying glass.
To help manage this fear, realize that other people in the audience struggle with this same phobia; you’re not alone. Also, speaking to smaller groups might be easier on your nervous system than speaking to hundreds.
2) Doing Things With Friends
Going out with friends is another common source of social anxiety. But you can choose a mindset that makes it a positive and pleasurable experience. Here are some things you can do to manage this anxiety:
● Set realistic expectations.
● Have a plan (provides certainty) and know what to expect.
● If meeting new people, practice what you’ll say beforehand to boost self-confidence.
● Bring a friend for moral support or to introduce you if meeting new people.
● Plan to arrive early to get comfortable with your surroundings and not feel rushed.
3) Phone Conversations
Talking on the phone is another common trigger of social anxiety, which has worsened over time because we always have our phones with us.
Although not always the case, fears that the person on the other end of the line is judging us causes these feelings of anxiety.
It’s important to remember that this is not always the case and that they may have a similar experience or understanding of what you are going through.
To better manage those emotions, put some space between yourself and the intensity of those feelings by examining what might be causing them. Ask yourself these questions:
● What does it mean if someone calls – why do I feel nervous?
● What am I afraid might happen when someone calls?
● What’s the underlying source of those feelings?
● What happens in my body when I experience those feelings?
● What can I do not to feel so anxious on the phone?
If talking on the phone triggers nervousness or anxiety, perhaps reducing those feelings might be as simple as talking a little slower and breathing more deeply to calm your nervous system.
Also, remind yourself that they called you because they wanted to hear from you, or you called them because they needed to hear from you about something.
Reassure yourself that this conversation matters and that what you have to share is important.
4) Encounters With Strangers And New People
Meeting new people is never easy unless you’re a social butterfly.
If you feel anxious about starting conversations with strangers or new people, try these techniques to start the conversation confidently:
● Smile and introduce yourself warmly by sharing your name and asking for theirs.
● Let them know how much you enjoy their work, if applicable, or something positive you’ve heard about them.
● Give a nice but appropriate compliment about their appearance or something they’re wearing.
● Mention a common interest you share, such as art, sports, or music.
● Remember their name and use it the next time you meet them and follow up on something you mentioned in your initial conversation.
5) Placing Your Order At A Restaurant
For some people, ordering food at a restaurant can be a source of social anxiety because the person taking their order is a stranger, and they want them to like them, and they might not know how to pronounce some of the food items on the menu.
Eating in public can be stressful for someone with social anxiety because they’re afraid people are watching them and how they eat, and they worry about whether they’re talking too much or not enough; it can make them feel very self-conscious.
But it’s a great place to practice managing those fears because the restaurant is glad you’ve come, and your server wants to make you feel comfortable and please you! Besides, many of the people eating around you share similar fears; you’re not alone, nor are you standing out like the “sore thumb” you fear.
No one likes feeling nervous, anxious, self-conscious, or embarrassed, which are feelings people with social anxiety experience, and even panic in extreme cases.
Social anxiety is a common condition many people experience to some degree.
The good news is that although social anxiety isn’t easy to deal with, there are things you can do to reduce those feelings and improve your quality of life. Consider starting with some tips we’ve shared in this article so you may continue unlocking your best life!
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