Social anxiety is not being shy, it is not being an introvert and it is not being anti-social. Social anxiety is an increased painful feeling of anxiousness and worry that often produces physical symptoms like shaking, sweating, feeling dizzy or faint, being frozen to the spot and often an overwhelming feeling of needing to run away. There is no logical reason and although there are sometimes triggers many times the symptoms can come out of nowhere and it is not unusual for the anxiety to start before a sufferer even leaves their house.

Social anxiety is debilitating, disabling, and can become a huge hurdle in living a full life and reaching your potential.  If someone is brave enough to tell you that they suffer with social anxiety please understand that it is not something that can be cured by putting on a brave face, manning up, growing a pair or thinking positive.  Be empathic, imagine how uncomfortable and frightening it must be for the person suffering and ask how you can best support them.

The good news is, is there are ways that a person can use to manage their anxiety and a tool box of useful coping mechanisms to choose from. Working with a counsellor can help a sufferer find the best way of managing their social anxiety, they can work together to build their own personal tool box and they will be better able to explain to other people how to help them when they need extra support. The first and most important step is recognising that you have social anxiety, so you can recognise what is happening when anxiety strikes and so you can find a suitable counsellor to help you.  Through talking therapy, you can investigate how this anxiety started and when it is worse, you can investigate safely knowing your counsellor will keep you safe within the boundaries of the therapy. A counsellor will work at your pace, and not rush you into anything you feel uncomfortable talking about.

It may help to keep a journal of your anxiety attacks, when they happened and how you were feeling before and after the attack. When an attack happens recognise what is happening and acknowledge that it is your anxiety that is causing the feelings you are having. Use grounding techniques such as breathing exercises or the 5-sense exercise, 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, 5 things you can touch. These exercises help to stop you panicking and allows your brain to slow down and think logically.

What tips do you have for helping control your social anxiety?