People with social anxiety experience extreme and overwhelming worry and fear in social settings and often begin to avoid those settings in order to feel safe and secure. Counseling is one of the best ways to begin processing and reducing social anxiety. In this blog, we are going to break down how counseling helps social anxiety.
What Is Social Anxiety?
Imagine this: You walk into a medium sized gathering with a mixture of old friends, new friends, and strangers. While you are at the gathering, there is conversation, mingling, and group activities. As the gathering continues, people settle in and feel more comfortable. You, however, are someone that struggles with social anxiety. Because of your social anxiety, your experience at this gathering is different and at times, maybe even unpleasant. Hours before you even arrived at the gathering, your mind began racing with “what-ifs” and intrusive thoughts about how you might appear to others or if what you might say will seem “normal.” You spent time going back and forth on whether you would even attend the gathering, and you felt tempted to back out at the last minute. You finally decided to attend the gathering, but you feel tense and nervous. Your mind is filled with self-criticism and worst-case scenarios. You feel disconnected from others. You wonder if you even fit it or if people think you are strange. You are unable to enjoy the night, and you end up leaving early feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
The experience described above is very common for those with social anxiety. Individuals may also experience those thoughts and emotions in settings like work, family time, school, or at the grocery store. According to Healthline, social anxiety differs from shyness in that it can be persistent, debilitating, and disruptive to daily life. Mayo Clinic says, “In social anxiety disorder, fear and anxiety lead to avoidance that can disrupt your life. Severe stress can affect your relationships, daily routines, work, school or other activities.”
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
The National Institute of Mental Health says that a person with social anxiety might experience some of the following when they are in a social setting:
- Racing Heart Beat
- Feeling Sick To Their Stomach or Feeling As Though They’re Mind Is Blank
- Fearing That Others Will Judge Them Negatively
- Difficulty Making Eye Contact or Speaking
- Avoiding Certain Settings All Together
How Counseling Helps Social Anxiety?
A counselor can help uncover the root fears of social anxiety – such as the fear of being judged or the fear of something bad happening. Then, the counselor will guide in challenging and changing fears – for example, evaluating what evidence one has to support those fears or ways the fears will not come true. This process is often very different from how someone with social anxiety would normally think, so a counselor can provide support and encouragement through the process. A counselor will also teach grounding and regulation techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, or guided imagery.
If you are someone that struggles with social anxiety and you are looking to make a change, we encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional. Good Therapy says, “With the right treatment, people are often able to greatly reduce their social anxiety” and that people often get “more confidence in their social skills.” At Garrett Counseling, we have a team of counselors who are ready to support you in the process of overcoming your social anxiety. Contact us today at (256) 239-5662 or online by clicking here.