About the Guest Author:
This article is written for The Unsanity Blog by Canadian blogger, Ariette Hung. She is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling. She cares deeply about mental health literacy, promoting resilience and growth, and instilling hope in others in times of adversity such as mental health struggles. When she isn’t studying, you can find her at her blog, ariettehung.com, where she blogs about saving money, side hustle ideas, entrepreneurship, and how to run a profitable blog.
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According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), the defining feature of social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.
In today’s post, I will be outlining some clinical insight on managing, reversing, and becoming resilient to your socially anxious thoughts, behaviors, and tendencies.
Practice mindfulness meditation and practice breathing techniques.
When you’re anxious, you might feel physical changes in your body that make you feel pain or discomfort — it can manifest in shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweaty palms, feverish feelings, tension, dizziness, nausea, or in the sensation of suffocation.
Managing your anxiety through meditation and breathing techniques can be very grounding and can assist you in adjusting misaligned and irrational thoughts to positive, and rational schemas. With proper therapeutic breathing techniques and meditation, you can soothe your nervous system and calm your heart rate.
My Calm-Down-Anxiety-Breathing Technique
- Sit up straight and relax your shoulders.
- Try to release any tension in your body.
- Place your hand above your diaphram (belly) and your heart.
- Breathe in slowly for four full seconds. Exhale slowly over 6 seconds.
Slowing your breathing can help you relax and regain your sense of equillibrium.
Resources to help: Headspace, Yoga with Adriene, The Mindful Kind podcast
Try exercises that reduce your anxiety.
Exercise is closely linked to mental health, because your mind feels better and more “awake” when your body is moving. This is because your body produces endorphins when you exercise, which gives your mood a boost, almost like a natural “high”.
Hate traditional working out or the idea of going to a gym? Try these: Swimming, dance class, yoga, rowing, hiking, going for a walk, running, spinning, biking, skiing, skating
If you incorporate physical exercise into your routine on a regular basis, you will feel much better!
Prepare accordingly for socially anxious situations.
Give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself that it’s going to be okay. If you know that large crowds overwhelm you, ask a buddy to stick by your side throughout the night.
Truth is, no one is going to pay as much attention to you as you think they will. And I know, your brain tells you otherwise and you feel panicked. Your feelings are valid.
But, your perception of reality might be warped. In order to assist you, have a friend “coach” you through socially difficult situations (whether it’s talking to your crush, talking to your professor, standing up to your parents, or asking for a raise at work), and if you see a counselor for your anxiety, I recommend working on your anxiety with him/her.
Implement self-compassion practices.
Journal about good days. Forgive yourself for bad days.
Challenge negative thoughts with the talk-back technique.
The purpose of this exercise is to identify the ugly, inner critic inside your head, and challenge those negative notions with a rational and positive voice.
Write down all the negative thoughts you have about yourself. Unleash your inner critic.
Your list can look like…
- You can’t do anything right.
- You are a failure.
- You are never going to make it.
Now, think about it, are these facts really true? Embody the most rational voice you have (maybe impersonate the most practical, logical person you know) and talk back.
Your talk-back statements may look like…
- You may not have succeeded at everything you’ve tried, but you’ve at least tried and you’re improving every time that you do it. That’s still a win.
- You are not a failure. Failure is something that can happen to you but it is not something you are. So, you can fail, and maybe you have, but it doesn’t define you. If anything, again, it means that you tried and that deserves credit.
- You may not be where you want to be right now, but you will be if you continue to work at it. After all, anyone who has ever “made it” in life has hustled for it.
Point is, the rational voice is right. It is not there to sugarcoat anything or baby you. But it is there to put things into proper perspective so you can see yourself and your problems with a realistic lens. Using this technique, you take control of your schemas.
To whoever is reading this article today,
I hope that this blog post and its suggestions are helpful to you.
I understand that anxiety looks different for everyone as we are all individual, unique people so please consult a professional consultant as needed. These are suggestions and practices that I have developed to aid me through my own anxiety over the years (it’s considerably managed), and have studied in school as an aspiring psychotherapist.
I may not know you and you may not know me, but know that I am rooting for you.
With love and light,