Social anxiety or a social phobia involves an intense fear of certain social interactions. If you are prone to the condition, you may find it to be especially prevalent in those situations that are unfamiliar, or on those occasions when you feel watched or judged. Some people find it triggered in them particularly at times when they are concerned that they might not measure up when compared to other people.
Merely having a shy disposition or being nervous in certain social situations does not however indicate that there is anything wrong with you. From time-to-time, many people become self-conscious in social situations. It is only when their feelings escalate into the distressed state associated with social anxiety, or when their fears get in the way of their day-to-day functioning, that we might label it a phobia.
Real social anxiety can prevent you from living the life you want to live. Because of the fear and anxiety you experience, people may see you as being shy, withdrawn or even unfriendly. This does not take away from the fact that you actually may wish to engage with people and that you may very much want to make friends and be included in groups. Unfortunately, social anxiety may not only impact on your social life; it can also prevent you from finding a suitable partner or even stop you landing a job that you might otherwise be good at doing. It really can severely affect a life on a variety of important levels.
Some people with the condition experience a degree of fear in most social and performance situations. For others, however, social anxiety is only really connected to certain specific social situations, such as those in which they feel insecure or out of place, those where they are being observed while doing something or perhaps those in which they need to make a formal contribution. For some, even just being introduced to another person can be enough to trigger distress and anxiety. Of course, worse still will be those times when they are teased or publically criticised.
High levels of fear and anxiety are the most common symptoms of a social phobia, which could result in a pounding heart, blushing and excessive sweating. They might also cause trembling, a dry throat and mouth and an automatic negative emotional cycle. For some, simply thinking about a difficult social situation is enough to bring on an anxiety response and many end up simply avoiding those social situations that they expect to find stressful. This can result in them feeling unconnected and losing out on possible opportunities.
Such chronic fear and anxiety is more prevalent than you might at first think. In fact, after alcoholism and depression, social anxiety is thought to be the world’s third most common mental health care issue. Even though you may realise that your fears are exaggerated, if not irrational, you may believe unable to help yourself feeling the way you do. Despite this, there are a number of things you can do that should serve to improve your situation. In fact, you will not be the first person to overcome debilitating social fears.
Hypnotherapy, and its related disciplines, can be effective in helping. The work we will do together will enhance your self-esteem and enable you to find more appropriate ways of seeing the social situations you face. It will assist you to develop more helpful ways of responding to them, both practically and emotionally. Because fear and anxiety are largely created in your mind, you will find that you really do have the ability to make the changes necessary to enable you to be more socially relaxed.
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Look at the section on public speaking.
Read about your fight-or-flight response in this page on emotions.
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