27/07/2014

The SundayTopic No.10 Social Anxiety


The Sunday Topic:
I wanted to start a series that I'm going to be running for the whole year one that's going to inspire people, make people happy and make them realise how beautiful life actually is!! So each Sunday I'm going to be posting a lifestyle post about something. This could be anything from good topics to dark topics that no one ever really talks about. By doing this I hope to open peoples eyes about how beautiful the world is but also how dark and lonely it can be. 


So today's The Sunday Topic is a bit of a dark topic however I don't want this to be a depressing post. I hope that it comes across as  a way of informing you guys what Social Anxiety is and how you can deal with it or help a friend who may have it. 

What is social anxiety?
The definition of social anxiety which has been defined by the social anxiety institute is "Social anxiety is the fear of  interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance. It is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. If a person usually becomes (irrationally) anxious in social situations, but seems better when they are alone, then "social anxiety" may be the problem."

Is it harmful/how to deal with it?
Not in my opinion it can be easily treated with the help of therapy or help from friends & family. You can find ways of limiting the amount of anxiety that you have by finding out what triggers it. This is useful because you can then find things that help you in these situations such as having a bottle of water or being with a close friend. Of course like most problems there are medications which you can take for this type of anxiety however I highly recommend speaking to your doctor first. 

Here are some of the tips recommended on a Social Anxiety website that can reduce the amount of anxiety that you have:
Change your lifestyle such as Avoid or limit caffeine & get adequate sleep. 
- Challenge negative thoughts such as “I know I’ll end up looking like a fool.”, “People will think I’m stupid.” & “I won’t have anything to say. I'll seem boring.”
- Learn to control your breath
- Face your fears such as Challenging social anxiety one step at a time
- Build better relationships such as Volunteer doing something you enjoy or Work on your communication skills


Do I have it/how I dealt/deal with it?
Yes I do suffer with social anxiety along with anxiety in general as there are many kinds of anxiety. I find that I become uncomfortable quickly when I have to do something such as talk to someone I'm unsure of. I even hate the thought of ordering food or drink in front of some of my friends and often ask my friend to order it for me. I also suffer with panic attacks which I've had help with I went to my local doctor who recommended I saw a therapist and together we did some CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). This is when you figure out what triggers your attacks and how you can reduce them and deal with them in specific situations. 

I find that having my friends around in certain situations helps a lot especially my best friend who knows how to calm me down. It sounds silly but I hate the thought of assembly and prize giving at the end of term when our teachers give us certificates for achievements. I always become very anxious/nervous and feel slightly sick I try to sit near the edge so that it's easy to go and get the achievement then sit down as quickly as I can. I dislike speaking in front of my peers soo much that if I know I am going to I have to go through certain steps before I do it. Such as drinking water, calming down, talking to friends and reading the piece of text or speech that I'm going to be saying.

Do my friends have it?
No non of my friends have this well not that I know of they're all bubbly and don't really care what other people think about them. If they're given an opportunity to do something and mess it up then they just think yolo (you only live once). Saying that makes my friends sound like they're the type to do stupid things because they're only young. Although they do silly things they're always safe things and I always make sure that they're safe before and after whatever they do. 

For example one time we were having a Comic Relief thing in our school cafe and my best friend randomly got up and got the guitar and then she put a red nose on and began to sing and play the guitar. I would never in a million years have done that it's just not something  would have done. The thought of it freaks me out and doing it in front of peers makes me slightly sick because I get all these thoughts inside my head "what if I do it wrong?", "What if I stop?" & "What if they don't like it?". 

How to know if someone you know has it
I know in some situations it's hard to figure out whether one of your friends is struggling with something such as social anxiety or depression. In order to know whether your friend may be suffering with social anxiety I recommend looking out for patterns of behaviour. For example if they become nervous before something simple such as an assembly in school or a meeting or they get anxious before meeting a friend (who is close to them). Simple behaviour patterns like this could lead to social anxiety. If you are unsure then ask them if you feel comfortable because they may have been waiting a long time for someone to notice that they need help or advice in order for them to feel better. 

Here is a list of symptoms from the social anxiety website both physical & behavioural which you can look out for if you think your friend suffers from social anxiety:

Physical symptoms 
- Red face, or blushing
- Shortness of breath
- Upset stomach, nausea (i.e. butterflies)
- Trembling or shaking (including shaky voice)
- Racing heart or tightness in chest
- Sweating or hot flashes
- Feeling dizzy or faint

Behavioral symptoms 
- Avoiding social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life
- Staying quiet or hiding in the background in order to escape notice and embarrassment
- A need to always bring a buddy along with you wherever you go
- Drinking before social situations in order to soothe your nerves

The future
Although I'm not 100% fine when it comes to social anxiety or panic attacks I'm miles better than I was. I defiantly think day by day I'm getting better at handling it and knowing what to do in order to reduce them. I'd love to help some people who have suffered like me in order to help them become better in themselves and feel like they can do anything without that sense of sickness or fear. 

In this modern day there are many ways that you can get help from the help of therapists or even simpler from your friends or family. I'd say the first thing to do if you think you have some sort of anxiety is to speak to your family or friends if you feel more comfortable talking to them. Then try to discover what's causing them and little steps you can take to reduce them like having a bottle of water with you. 

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