There are roughly 20 millions Americans that suffer from some form of social anxiety disorder. The effects of this disorder can be crippling, often leading to social isolation, depression and occasionally suicide. The worst part is that social anxiety typically results in a vicious cycle if help is not sought. If you are suffering from this disorder, here are some ways to help you turn you life around and start fully living again.
Eliminate or Cut Back on Anxiety Inducing Substances
Alcohol can often lead to anxiety and panic attacks especially the day after a night of drinking. It can have negative effects on your nervous system which can make a person feel on edge and can even provoke panic attacks. It’s important to keep this at a minimum to begin reducing your anxiety.
Caffeine is another catalyst for anxiety. If you consume coffee, soft drinks or energy drinks regularly, try to replace those with something more natural and healthy like green tea.
Gradually Expose Yourself To People
If you have been living in relative isolation for an extended period of time because of your social anxiety, then it is important to “get yourself out of your shell”. This is obviously not an easy task at first, but is vital in the recovery process. People tend to avoid social situations because they associate socializing as a negative stimulus. It’s usually not the act of being social that scares the person, it’s the bad emotions that go along with it that causes the person distress.
The trick is to be able to associate socializing as a positive stimulus. Start off slowly by trying to integrate yourself back with an old friend or simply trying to start a conversation with someone you feel comfortable with. Once you have a good experience, you won’t be so hesitant to engage in another social situation down the road. This process will gradually get you back in the swing of dealing with people.
Study How to Effectively Communicate
There are a countless number of books out there that deal with this subject. Learn how to read people’s body language and how to engage in the art of conversation. The more prepared you are for social interaction, the less threatening it will become. This will help build your confidence and aid you in becoming a better speaker.
Seek Professional Help
Most of the time, people can make a positive transition on their own if allowed enough time. However, some circumstances need the help of a psychologist or therapist for recovery. If you feel that you just cannot work through your social anxiety on your own, then find a professional to help you get started.