Social Anxiety is more common than we like to admit. Many of us worry so much about what people think of us that we lose sight of the most important thing of all: living our lives and doing what we enjoy.
Life is slowly but surely starting to return to some kind of normality and having social anxiety, even in a mild form, might be particularly difficult for some. We have become used to being restricted to our homes and workplaces which has limited our opportunities to interact with others as we normally would have.
Getting back out there can be difficult, especially if you find social situations anxiety provoking. Let’s start by describing what social anxiety is. Social anxiety is feeling anxious and shy in social situations with people outside of your normal day to day life. The tendency to overthink how you come across to other people, what they think or say about you, how you look are ‘the usual suspects’ when experiencing social anxiety. The fear of feeling embarrassed or being humiliated can become so uncomfortable that you actually begin to avoid going anywhere, altogether.
Allowing this anxiety to control you, will only stop you from stepping out of your comfort zone and in doing so, limit yourself only to the people and places you do feel comfortable in. This will only restrict your ability to have new experiences and learn how to do new things.
We all carry with us a degree of anxiety as it makes part of our survival instinct. But sadly it can grow to a point that it disables our lives.
Take a moment to consider why it grows? It grows because we feed it with excessive negative thoughts and it reinforces negative behaviors, for example "avoidance".
In order to further our growth and development, we need to make changes. a great place to start is by taking small steps outside of our comfort zone. Following your interests, goals and dreams is crucial if you want to make the most of your life. It’s human nature to feel uncomfortable. If you find yourself in a busy place, take a moment to look around - I can guarantee that someone there is experiencing a similar level of social anxiety. Try to exercise self-compassion by accepting that many people are feeling what you do, and that you are not alone or ‘losing your mind’. Doing this will further assist you in overcoming your social anxiety. So how do we defeat this Social Anxiety monster?
Let’s start by identifying the places, situations and activities you avoid, (write them down if it makes it easier for you to identify). Decide which one these you would like to tackle first and please pick the one that feels less overwhelming - You don't want to start feeling more anxious about dealing with your anxiety. Put in place an action plan and allocate a time period in which you would like to achieve your goal. For example; if you feel anxious going places without people you know, try going somewhere on your own and spending 10 minutes there. START SMALL!
Remember that anxiety is not a weakness. Living with it and taking the steps needed to overcome it is a strength. Don't let it control you, take the control back by facing your fears and get out there and live your life. Yes, you might still feel anxious but the more you face it, the easier it gets - I promise!
Instead of the anxiety growing, your confidence will. It will fast track your journey to becoming a happier, more prepared and successful version of yourself.
Productivity & Wellbeing Director
Check more info on our program to develop resilience in teams