How to manage social anxiety
Social anxiety disorder has received much greater attention over the last decade, and with heightened awareness, comes better support mechanisms. That is not to say that it is all of a sudden easy to manage or move past, but there are ways to make life with social anxiety a bit more manageable.
A bit of background
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, has been characterised in such a way that you may think that someone who has the condition might feel rather shy at parties or other social situations. But social anxiety is more than feeling a bit nervous before public speaking, or wondering whether they’ll have enough to say when within a crowd or group.
Someone with social anxiety can suffer excruciating, debilitating fear at social situations that can ultimately trigger an anxiety attack. The potential for such a response can mean that they will go out of their way to avoid social situations. This has previously meant that those with the condition are subjected to stigma from others, the common “you never come out” call. This only serves to compound the fear and make matters worse.
How it can affect us
It is suggested by some psychologists that social anxiety tells us two lies. The first is that the worst case scenario is bound to happen - we will be rejected; people will point and laugh; we’ll be humiliated. The second is that we can’t deal with that worst case scenario or the ups and downs of living a life which is socially diverse and rich.
These lies then lead to one of the most common indicators of social anxiety disorder - avoidant behaviours. Declining invitations, or inventing reasons not to attend, can seem the only option to avoid the inevitable distress. What makes this more frustrating is that it can last for months at a time.
Things we can do
Where our mental health is concerned, many professionals believe in the holistic approach, where mind and body are so intrinsically linked that taking care of one will help the other. In that way, getting your body moving can encourage positive hormone release and impact self-esteem for the better. But there are also simple tasks like journaling to track progress, congratulating yourself for achievements big or small, and even setting small, short term goals which can be independently met.
Then there is cognitive behaviour therapy, or CBT for short. It can work with the thoughts that trigger the symptoms, and can work through exposing yourself gradually to what is fearful for you, known specifically as exposure therapy. CBT can also help contain some of the anxious thinking and fears about disapproving others, or being judged by them, that is often at the root of social anxiety disorder.
Here at oVRcome, we are working hard to support those with social anxiety, and a range of phobias, through programmes with which use virtual reality technology and exposure therapy techniques. Combining these two tools is demonstrating how 21st century technology can play a central role in supporting those with mental health challenges. Beginning the journey with oVRcome, our free social anxiety test, which you can take here, is another tool which is empowering individuals to better understand where they are at. You’ll receive a personalised report which you can then use to inform your next steps in your journey. Why not take it today?
As with any health condition, no two are the same. The same is true for treatment and strategies offered to support those with social anxiety. Individually tailored plans to meet the condition is critical, particularly when we consider that each person demonstrates different symptoms, different triggers, different challenges to day-to-day life. So, when contemplating a way forward, bare this in mind - there is no one size fits all approach. And remember, oVRcome are here to help.
If you would like to read more about social anxiety, why not check out this article? It takes a look at some of the key indicators that those with the condition demonstrate and what that can mean for day to day life.