Do You Experience An Anxiety Disorder?
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Stress Management Coach
Did you know that anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the U. S alone?
That works out to about 18.1% of the population. It's right up there with public speaking as one of the biggest fears people admit having.
Unfortunately, even though anxiety disorders are highly treatable, however, only about 37% of those who suffer from these disorders seek treatment.
Of course, if you know that you suffer from an anxiety disorder, that's one thing.
Many people don't recognize their symptoms, however.
Social fears are one of the most common issues that a lot of people face. The symptoms are worse for some than for others.
But social anxiety is a fairly universal phenomenon.
Symptoms usually start to show up during one's teen years. Let's face it; our teen years are rough on even the most confident person.
With the addition of cyberbullying and other recent social phenomena, it's no wonder that social anxiety is on the rise.
Thankfully, there are ways in which you can learn to face social fears without having to drop out of society.
Most of these tips are easy to do, too. If you have issues that exceed these measures, consider getting some professional help. You may benefit from mediation or other help to get yourself on the right path.
If you are ready to make a significant change in your life and face your social fears, take baby steps.
Don't choose to start by speaking in front of 500 people, for example.
Instead, start small with a small group. Pick a meet-up group or a book club. Get a little bit out of your comfort zone, and then build up to more.
Most people are nervous in social situations, but if you plan for different scenarios, you'll feel more relaxed. Practice helps.
So practice introducing yourself. Ask a friend to help. Practice your handshake.
Practice good eye contact, too. Being more comfortable around people starts one step at a time.
Practice will help it feel more familiar.
The need to practice is one of the reasons I like to recommend Toastmasters to people. You learn to network in a totally safe environment.
Most of the people who belong started because of their reluctance to engage in public speaking. By participating in their program, you learn to be at ease in front of people.
You get to practice your handshake and eye contact, too!
Many social fears come from wrong-headed beliefs that something is wrong with you. You don't think enough of yourself. You think you're weird or somehow wrong.
But, nothing could be further from the truth! Most of us have something different about us; if we were all the same, it would be quite dull. Embrace your differences and accept yourself for who you are.
Some measure of social fears come from our poor judgments of not just ourselves but of others. We figure that if we are so judgmental, then other people must be, too.
So, to avoid that Judgment, we may decide to avoid the situation entirely.
If you learn to stop being so judgmental, you'll be able to be less afraid of others' judgments.
Learn to accept other people's differences and personalities as just being human. It's okay to be human!
Your Fears Aren't Reality
Just because you're afraid of something doesn't mean it's real.
You may have all sorts of ideas in your head about how your voice sounds or how you look.
Your perceived awkwardness is just that--perceived.
The truth is most people are so consumed by their fears that they don't even notice that you're nervous.
When you feel anxiety coming on, stop and take a deep, cleansing breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose.
Fill your lungs completely. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth. Two to three slow, deep breaths can help you overcome your fears fast.
Take the Leap Despite Your Fear
Most of the time, fear is worse than the actual situation. Even if you're doing something scary, we tend to blow things up out of proportion. If you take the leap and jump in with both feet, you'll find that your fear level drops dramatically.
Most social anxiety is a normal reaction that many people experience occasionally. You're not abnormal to have social fears and anxiety. This is especially true if you're unwilling to allow your fears to block you from having a happy and productive life.