No man is an island. Whilst it’s tempting at times to pretend that other people don’t exist, we need friends, peers, co-workers and family members, in order to be productive, emotionally stable and satisfied.
You can imagine then how much it costs a person when he or she has Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). To be diagnosed with SAD means that you find situations involving any degree of relating as stressful. The impact of this illness goes beyond private discomfort. Extreme forms of SAD can cut off an individual from all sources of functionality and meaning.
How can you combat Social Anxiety Disorder? Knowledge is the key! The more informed you are about this condition and your reaction to it, the easier it will be to conquer it.
Here are 5 easy ways to combat Social Anxiety Disorder through the power of information:
1. Know your symptoms.
Different people experience social anxiety differently. Some experience it bodily: they get palpitations, sweaty hands, trembling, nausea and headaches. Others experience social anxiety mentally: they get obsessive thoughts, they blank out, or they have difficulty concentrating. Still others have a more emotional response: they get mood swings, suffer depression or feel intense fear and helplessness.
It is important that you know the specific way you experience social anxiety. Knowledge of your symptoms can help you control them better, as you’d have a warning that an anxiety attack is on its way. When you know how to recognize an anxiety attack, way before it becomes full-blown, then you can nip it in the bud.
2. Know your triggers.
The anxiety attack is usually preceded by a situation or event that you find most threatening. For some people, it’s meeting strangers. For others, it’s being teased or criticized. And still for some, social anxiety comes when one is in the company of those with power or prestige.
If you know what your triggers are, you can take extra precautions to avoid, prevent, or manage them when they do come.
3. Gain insight on how your social anxiety came about.
The anxiety people with SAD experience can feel larger than life, especially when one has no idea how they came about, or how they managed to get to the intensity that they did. It helps then to explore why your social anxiety came about. Is it a negative experience in the past? Is it from modeling a parent? Is it because of an upbringing with limited social interaction? The more you know about the roots of your anxiety reaction, the less intimidating it becomes.
Knowing how you developed Social Anxiety Disorder helps you see that social anxiety is but a natural reaction to an event in your life. And if a dysfunctional reaction can be learned, it can be unlearned.
4. Know your unhelpful ways of dealing with the anxiety.
Perhaps one of the reasons why social anxiety is overwhelming for you is because you practice unhelpful ways of dealing with it. You may be giving in to the panic attack, or making it worse by entertaining thoughts that reinforce your fears. You may also be isolating yourself from relevant support systems, which may be effective in the short term, but in the long run keep you from learning skills to handle anxiety more effectively.
5.Last, know your helpful ways of dealing with the anxiety.
It couldn’t have been all negative! After all, you have survived this far despite a debilitating mental health condition. Your survival implies that you are doing some things right, and that you have inner strength and resilience. Focus on these positives! If you can tap into resources that are already within you, then you will defeat Social Anxiety Disorder in no time.
What would help is to start a social anxiety diary. When an anxiety attack comes, log all these details down. Take time to study your patterns. In this way, you can better understand the dynamics of your anxiety attack. A better understanding of your own anxiety dynamics can help you tailor fit your interventions to your unique case.
When it comes to anxiety disorders, the value of information can’t be underestimated. Knowing your symptoms, triggers, the origins of your pathology, and the negative and positive ways of dealing with the anxiety can help you prevent them — as well as control them when they come.
Don’t forget, a personalized plan is more effective!