Social Anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety and affects both men and women of all ages. Most of us feel shy or anxious in social situations at some point; however this may get more serious for some individuals. Some may find that their relationships, friendships, career and life general can be greatly restricted or affected by this problem.
In brief, people experiencing social anxiety may fear what others think of them (usually that others will see them in a negative light), may believe that others are better than them or that they are being watched closely in social situations. This, in turn, affects the body, thoughts and behaviours. We will go through the effects that social anxiety has on the body and mind in this leaflet.
This can result in a person avoiding social situations completely.
Below are some ways that you can identify how social anxiety manifests in the body when placed in a social situation.
Below are some ways that you can identify how social anxiety manifests in the mind when placed in a social situation. These are some examples of thoughts or ways we may feel that may come to mind when experiencing social anxiety.
As a result, you often end up avoiding social situations completely, creating excuses as to why you ‘can’t’ attend. You may even avoid telephone calls, or visitors.
Sometimes, people with social anxiety can and do attend social situations, but they need something to ‘help them through it’. Quite often people use alcohol, drugs and smoking to ‘mask’ how they are really feeling in social situations. People also offer to help at all social situations so they can keep busy, rehearse what they will say, sit in a corner, plan your exit (by staging calls from family members) in order to leave as soon as possible.
These are avoidance behaviours, and will only help the social anxiety for a very short period of time. There are many other ways to help your social anxiety long-term.
It may be helpful to try and identify when, how and where you experience social anxiety. Keep a diary about your feelings and what makes you feel anxious about social situations. If you know what happens to make you injure yourself, you can try to work out how to change things.
Remember, the University of Limerick have a counselling service that provides help with all of the above symptoms. They provide a daily drop-in service, where you are free to have a chat with an assistant psychologist on how your social anxiety is affect you. After this brief chat, the assistant psychologist will create a plan tailored specifically to you in helping you to manage and overcome your social anxiety.