Do you experience intense fear of certain social situations? For example, if you have to give a a presentation in class, you experience increased heart rate, nausea, and trouble catching your breath.
You fear embarrassing yourself so you avoid certain social situations. This condition is called social anxiety and here are six steps you can take overcome this problem.
1. Share your struggles with your parents
If you have excessive fears in social situations, for example speaking up in class, you need to let you parents know. They might need to get a mental health professional to evaluate your problem in order to give you the help you need.
2. Identify automatic negative thoughts
Do you have negative thoughts about what will happen in these situations? Listen to what you are telling yourself. For example, you know the answer for a question your teacher asks, and your self-talk is, “I won’t know what to say, and they will think I am stupid.”
3. Challenge negative self-talk
Negative thoughts increase your anxiety and fear for some social situations. Start by asking yourself questions like: “Is there evidence for what I am thinking?” Or you could ask yourself, “What is a more positive way of looking at this situation?
4. Face the social situation you fear
Continuing to avoid the social situation allows the problem to persist and prevents you from doing some things that you want to do.
Start slowly, taking small, gradual steps. For example, is you fear meeting people, start making small talk with other students in your class. Be patient with yourself and continue to practice the skills you learn.
Teenager, Anna Vite, on TEDx talks, shares her struggles with social anxiety since she was a young girl. In her presentation entitled, "Talk!" she explains that social anxiety limited her voice.
Anna now asserts, "My social anxiety is not going to disappear but I have found a way to manage it ... Even though I have social anxiety, I have a voice." Like Anna, you can move pass the fear and anxiety that keep you from speaking.
5. Practice relaxation techniques
When you relax it eases the symptoms of anxiety and makes it easier to face social situations. Practice doing deep breathing exercises by breathing slowly and deeply through your nose, then exhaling slowly through your mouth. This could keep you calm when you face situations that make you anxious.
6. Draw from a caring network
Spend time with people are supportive, affirming and have a positive impact on your life. Also, try to take the focus from yourself and your fears, and reach out to others. For example, reach out another teen at school with genuine interest and kindness.
These steps could help to build your confidence so you become less self-conscious in everyday social situations.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
© 2017 Yvette Stupart