Coping with Social Anxiety
If you have social anxiety you’ll probably:
- get very anxious when you have to meet new people; and
- worry that people will think you’re foolish, or that you’ll embarrass yourself in some way.
We all have these feelings sometimes, but if you suffer from social anxiety you might also:
- actively avoid meeting new people or speaking in public;
- dread going to social events, and avoid them whenever you can;
- go over and over things afterwards, worrying about you felt, how you did and what people thought of you.
During a social event, you might:
- have a very dry mouth
- be unable to speak, or speak but mix up your words and forget what you were trying to say
- feel your heart pounding and your chest tightening
- sweat and want to pass water or open your bowels unnecessarily
- avoid eye contact
- avoid speaking about yourself
- experience a panic attack
One in twenty adults in the UK has social anxiety. Research shows that CBT can treat and resolve most kinds of social anxiety. CBT for social anxiety usually involves:
- working closely with a trained and experienced therapist to understand the thoughts and beliefs that cause your anxiety;
- looking at other thoughts that might feel more comfortable or more accurate for the person you are today; and
- (armed with the insight that’s given you) a safe, gradual, exposure to things that cause anxiety, with regular support and reviews to help you understand what’s happening and prepare for each new step.