Social anxiety is the term used to describe a high level of shyness. Of course everyone feels shy or anxious in certain social situations, but for some people it can be a little more extreme. When this is the case it has a huge affect on their lives and stops them doing the things they would like to. For example it may affect their confidence to go to school or work and impact on their confidence to make friends and enjoy their hobbies.
- Public speaking
- Talking to authority figures
- Talking to a group of people or an individual
- Eating in public
- Any performance based situations
When in such situations, people can often experience many uncomfortable physical symptoms of anxiety.
- A rapid heart beat
- Butterflies in their stomach
Socially anxious people often feel under the spotlight and believe that everyone is thinking badly of them.
They often hold beliefs that they are no good socially, are boring, and that they have nothing interesting to contribute. After social events, they tend to pick out parts that they believe went poorly and beat themselves up over them.
To cope with social anxiety, people tend to avoid social situations if possible (parties, pubs, canteens…). If they can’t avoid them, they tend to try and stay in the background and attract as little attention to themselves as possible (say very little).
How do you know if you suffer from social anxiety? Answer these following questions:
- Do you feel anxious or self conscious during social situations (parties; eating in public; or one to one conversations)?
- Do you find it hard to participate in the things you want to because of your shyness?
- Do you tend to avoid speaking to people when you can?
- Do you worry that people think badly of you in social settings?
- Do you worry that you have nothing interesting to contribute to conversations?
- Do you worry that you are the center of attention and everyone can see how anxious you are?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes,’ you may be experiencing symptoms of social anxiety and you may find my future article on how to overcome social anxiety helpful.