The Social Phobia
Social Anxiety is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. For people with social anxiety disorder, everyday social interactions cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness and embarrassment.
Social anxiety is much more than just the odd twitter of nerves or shyness. According to helpguide.org it involves “intense fear of certain social situations – especially situations that are unfamiliar or in which you feel you’ll be watched or evaluated by others.” (“Social Anxiety Disorder”, 2020)
In addition, lurking deep within social anxiety there is the fear of judgement, scrutiny and public embarrassment. You maybe apprehensive of people, with thoughts of “will they think badly of me?” or “do I even measure up in comparison to them?” However, deep down you know most of these fears of being judged are considerably disproportionate and irrational. Yet you still can’t help feeling anxious.
“No matter how painfully shy you may be and no matter how bad the butterflies, you can learn to be comfortable in social situations and reclaim your life”(“Social Anxiety Disorder”, 2020)
For many, anxiety is a new feeling. The current world events are certainly a contributing factor. The Coronavirus has unpacked a cluster of emotions for so many people throughout the world. However, we need to take note that this is “a normal, natural response to unprecedented uncertainty, threat of illness, stress, and restricted life.” (Scott, 2020).
The ABC interviewed a woman on the Gold Coast who has two children and says shes ‘not normally a worrier, rather a “relaxed and confident mother”. But empty shelves and experiences at the supermarket have caused the 32-year-old to feel anxiety and fear.
This is very reassuring for the most part, knowing you are not the only one feeling this way!
The Principles of Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is quite prevalent within society, and people struggle with these fears each and every day. However, the situations that trigger the symptoms of social anxiety disorder can be very different.
The following common social anxiety triggers may include:
- Attending parties or other social gatherings
- Making a phone call
- Taking exams
- Eating or drinking in public
- Using public restrooms
- Speaking up in a meeting at work
- Public Speaking
- Going on a date
- Being teased or criticized
- Being watched while completing a task
- Being the center of attention
- Meeting new people
- Making small talk
Signs & Symptoms of Social Anxiety
It’s a relief to know that occasionally getting nervous in a social setting does not mean you have a social phobia or social anxiety disorder!
Many people become apprehensive or self-conscious momentarily, however it does not get in the way of their everyday life. On the other hand, social anxiety disorder does. The following video will take you through the three primary symptoms, emotional, physical and behavioral. (Scott, 2020).
How to Avoid Spiraling Negative Thoughts When in Isolation
Dr. Aarti Gupta, PsyD, Founder and Clinical Director at TherapyNest, A Center for Anxiety and Family Therapy in Palo Alto, California recommends the six steps to surviving in isolation.
- Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself”
- Stay close to your normal routine
- Avoid obsessing over endless Coronavirus coverage
- A chaotic home can lead to a chaotic mind
- Start a new quarantine ritual
- Use telehealth as an option to talk to a professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable
“Letting go of illusions of control and finding peace in the fact that you are doing your part to “flatten the curve” will certainly build mental strength to combat the stressful situation the whole globe is experiencing.”(Gupta, 2020)
If you can take 10 minutes of your time, find out if you may possibly suffer from social anxiety – https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/tests/personality/social-anxiety-test
- Social Anxiety Disorder. HelpGuide.org. (2020). Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder.htm.
- Emotional woman. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=emotional+symptoms+of+social+anxiety&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886&sxsrf=ALeKk03cDxLnrIxvtfEWJOUe8GTDaYrPug:1586341934815&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjdg5Gc0NjoAhW4zDgGHXFeDjMQ_AUoAXoECAwQAw&biw=675&bih=588#imgrc=idDcZVlD2qrXXM.
- Woman meditating. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=physical+social+anxiety&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiw9v7X0tjoAhVABrcAHXX4D-UQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=physical+social+anxiety&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQAzIGCAAQBxAeMgYIABAHEB4yBggAEAgQHjIECAAQGFCWqgJYlqoCYKSvAmgAcAB4AIABsgKIAbICkgEDMy0xmAEAoAEBqgELZ3dzLXdpei1pbWc&sclient=img&ei=xaqNXvD_DMCM3LUP9fC_qA4&bih=588&biw=675&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886#imgrc=c9lofMakX0-DTM.
- Behaviour. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=behavioral+social+anxiety&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiwhavr0tjoAhWrBrcAHdMZB6cQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=behavioral+social+anxiety&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQAzIICAAQBxAFEB46BggAEAcQHjoICAAQCBAHEB5QkdEWWN7iFmCq5xZoAHAAeACAAe4CiAG7EZIBBzAuMi43LjGYAQCgAQGqAQtnd3Mtd2l6LWltZw&sclient=img&ei=7aqNXvDaL6uN3LUP07OcuAo&bih=588&biw=675&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886#imgrc=qRCMDiNIPOQ7sM.
- Social Anxiety Artwork. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=social+anxiety+art&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjnuqae1NjoAhVMBLcAHeCCCv0Q2-cCegQIABAA&oq=social+anxiety&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQARgEMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDOgQIIxAnOgIIAFCzhhJY75kSYJ29EmgAcAB4AYAB2ASIAfQkkgEJMi03LjMuMi4ymAEAoAEBqgELZ3dzLXdpei1pbWc&sclient=img&ei=ZayNXqf0BcyI3LUP4IWq6A8&bih=588&biw=675&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886#imgrc=nviZKv5EBnH-5M.
- Social Anxiety. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=social+anxiety+art&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjnuqae1NjoAhVMBLcAHeCCCv0Q2-cCegQIABAA&oq=social+anxiety&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQARgEMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDOgQIIxAnOgIIAFCzhhJY75kSYJ29EmgAcAB4AYAB2ASIAfQkkgEJMi03LjMuMi4ymAEAoAEBqgELZ3dzLXdpei1pbWc&sclient=img&ei=ZayNXqf0BcyI3LUP4IWq6A8&bih=588&biw=675&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886#imgrc=nviZKv5EBnH-5M.
- Scott, K. (2020). Coronavirus is causing ‘significant’ anxiety. Here’s how to cope – ABC Life. Abc.net.au. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.abc.net.au/life/coping-with-anxiety-during-coronavirus/12084932.
- Gupta, D. (2020). COVID-19 Lockdown Guide: How to Manage Anxiety and Isolation During Quarantine. Adaa.org. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/covid-19-lockdown-guide-how-manage-anxiety-and.