For those living with social phobia, feeling extremely self-conscious in social situations occurs in almost any social interaction, leaving the person feeling uncomfortable and more likely to avoid any social situation at all costs. This behavior may seem like shyness to others, however these experiences actually induce feelings of panic for the sufferer. Social anxiety bars people from being able to enjoy life and mentally forces a person into a reclusive lifestyle. However, that is the opposite of what a person needs for happy and healthy functioning. Social interaction is necessary for human beings to thrive. Overcoming social anxiety takes time and practice along with various treatment methods. Here are five methods for overcoming social phobia.
1. Force yourself to go participate in social situations. Although this is probably the last advice a person with social phobia wants to hear, the only way to normalize social interactions is to keep engaging in them. The more a person avoids what they are afraid of, the more programmed the brain becomes to fear it. Actively placing yourself in social situations will help eliminate some of the fear just from the experiences alone.
2. Ask the people around you questions about themselves. Often times, people become anxious in social situations because they may fear the seemingly inevitable awkward silences that could occur, fearing they have nothing to contribute to the conversation. This is not an uncommon fear for anyone, even those without social phobia. One method that works very well in social situations is asking the other person or people questions about themselves. Everyone knows how to answer questions about themselves, so it fuels the conversation. Additionally, this gives you more details to start new conversations with people in the future. Focusing yourself on what the person is saying instead of focusing on your feelings on the inside will help prevent panic.
3. Practice deep breathing in social situations and when you are alone. People have a tendency to take shallow breaths in moments of stress. However, short breaths will only add to anxiety in the moment. Taking deep, full breaths will help you remain calm and will help bar anxiety from taking hold. Take the time with yourself to practice deep breathing every day to become more aware of your breath. When you are in social situations, be mindful of your breathing. Taking deep breaths will help ward off social phobia.
4. See a therapist regularly. There are a variety of treatments a therapist can employ in order to help you overcome your social phobia, including cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, social skills training, and more. Additionally, a therapist is a safe, supportive environment for you to express yourself and get productive feedback from a professional.
5. Try neurofeedback. A natural way to retrain your brain without the use of medications, neurofeedback aims to correct the functioning of brainwaves that are not working to the best ability. This makes the brain function calmly and more effectively, significantly reducing anxiety. When the brain functions better, a person feels better emotionally! To learn more about how neurofeedback can benefit you, schedule a free in-person consultation with our director Dr. Jolene Ross.
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