Social Anxiety Disorder is thought to affect up to 10% of the UK’s adult population yet only 5 - 10% of sufferers will seek professional help for it. Along with professional help, there are a number of things you can do yourself to help overcome shyness and social anxiety. While these do not replace counselling or other professional treatments, they can help.
Confidence doesn’t come naturally to everyone but it can be learnt through action, practice and mastery. Make eye contact, walk with your head held high, project your voice, shake hands and share your opinions with others. It will take time but confidence is one of the biggest hurdles and is well worth achieving. If you’re really struggling with this, start with friends and family and work your way up to work colleagues and then eventually complete strangers.
Don’t avoid situations
Believe it or not, with social anxiety feeling anxious isn’t the problem - avoiding social interactions is. The more you try to dodge the situations that make you feel bad, the more of an issue they become. Eliminate this avoidance and you are one step closer to overcoming your anxiety because the more you do something the less scary and more normal it becomes.
Try to interact with people as much as you can wherever you go. Whether it’s talking to the cashier while you pack your groceries away, strangers in bars, colleagues while you’re making a cup of tea or asking the instructor a question at the gym - regular engagements will help to reduce the fear of speaking to people you don’t know very well.
Making speeches, presentations or telling jokes and stories are amongst the biggest fears of those suffering with social anxiety. Whether you’re at work, with friends or strangers, try to be more expressive and talkative. By letting your voice and ideas be heard at every opportunity, this behaviour will soon become normal and won’t leave you feeling so anxious.
If you think that you or someone you know may suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder, please feel free to visit our Depression and Anxiety Treatment Programme page for more information about the treatments available. You can also contact us today for help.