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Living with social anxiety is hard to deal with especially when you’re forced to be social. The thought of interacting with others may cause fear for some of us like myself. My social anxiety kicks in at the most inconvenient time. Once at a party, I decided to climb a tree in my best friend’s backyard to avoid everybody. She tried everything to get me down she even bought the guy that had a huge crush on me to talk me out of that tree. It didn’t work. If you think that was weird, I have once hidden from my entire family one year for Christmas because my mom was hosting our traditional dinner. Till this day, my grandma asked me where I had gone not knowing that I was in my room curled up in a ball in my blanket. Giving this speech right now is a really big deal for me because I’m talking in front of all of you which is makes me the most uncomfortable that I ever be. A lot of people think that social anxiety is no big deal.
Well, today I’d like to share with you what social anxiety is, the symptoms and who are most affected by it, and how to relax when your anxiety starts to kick in. To begin, let me first explain what social anxiety is.
Social anxiety is when an individual face the fear of social interaction. Most people have dealt with social anxiety as a child and was always told that they will grow out of it. According to Montana, the individuals who still face this anxiety describe it as a fear of rejection and punishment if they say or do something wrong around others. As this happens, social anxiety can become more intense causing terror.
When experiencing social anxiety, some people have delusions of what consequence they may face if they do something wrong. John Montana of Positive Health said that even though such delusions aren’t created from paranoid schizophrenia, they can cause the person to detach from reality. If this is ever the case, that said person is more than likely suffering from another mental illness such as depression or bipolar disorder. The majority of people who deal with social anxiety are just uncomfortable in social situations. However, the more severe it is the more out of place a person can feel. Social anxiety can seriously cause harm in a person’s life making it a more serious disorder than what people think it really is. Now that you know more about social anxiety let’s tackle the symptoms and find out who are most affected by it.
Let’s begin with what triggers social anxiety. A person’s anxiety may be provoked from speaking in public, eating or drinking around a large crowd, being the center of attention, giving reports in groups or asking questions or even using a public restroom.
When a person is exposed to any of the mentioned situations, they may start worrying about how people view them, experience sleeping problems, muscle tension, sweating, blushing, shaking and increased heart beats. As claimed by Thomasson and Psouni, individuals who experience these symptoms may cause impairments in academic and work-related functions. They even report low quality of their life. It is also said that these individuals are more than likely to not get married or become divorced. It is also an association with alcohol and drug abuse.
Having said that, there are specific groups that are most affected by social anxiety. As mentioned before, alcohol and anxiety have some type of connection. Basically, social anxiety is a motivator for drinking. With college students having the most intake of alcohol than the average person it is safe to say that when intoxicated social anxiety no longer exists. Due to its psychological and physiological effects, alcohol alleviates the anxiety which results in students continuing to use alcohol. Unfortunately, this association can be problematic for college students putting them at risk for hazardous drinking behaviors such as participating in drinking games. However, Ham and Hope found that “social anxiety had small relations to alcohol problems after all.
Social anxiety is a kryptonite for college students. It also has a major effect on women. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with SAD than men. A few studies went into detail about why women were at a greater risk for developing social anxiety. The evidence from some of those studies showed that “specific psychosocial factors may be influential risk factors for the development of social anxiety in women”. Beliefs about the self in relation to our social environment are shaped by sociocultural practices and values such as gender roles and the expectations of gender. A great example of this is how successful women are supposed to be more caring in casual situations but more assertive in professional situations. However, it is said that more aggressive women are least liked than aggressive mens. Although it is said that women have a higher level of social anxiety than men, there are ways to overcome it. With that being said, last but not least I will share with you some ways to relax.
Relaxation is a great way for a person to reduce their anxiety levels. Relaxing helps your mind and body forge a new and better look at the social situation you’re facing. According to an article from Uncommon Help, looking at your surroundings helps lower anxiety because your focus is on the environment and not yourself. Another important thing that one should do if experiencing anxiety is to breathe. Breathing helps you deal with social anxiety. It helps calm a person down mentally and physically.
Mindfulness is another way to help reduce social anxiety. Mindfulness is defined as a state of awareness that rises when a person is paying attention to a happening right now moment in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness originated from the Buddhist tradition of meditation and has been transformed into a secular practice meant to improve people well-being.
With all of that being said social anxiety can be controlled if the person experiencing it would just let relaxation flow through their body. Now that you know more about social anxiety hopefully you will take this and support those who face it.
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