How Therapy Can Help If You Struggle with Social Anxiety
Do you panic at the thought of making a public speech? Do social events like weddings, parties, or work meetings fill you with dread and fear? Has your social anxiety worsened your self-esteem or impacted your ability to create meaningful relationships?
Research shows that over 12% of American adults struggle with social anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. At best, this condition can be frustrating and isolating. At its worst, however, it can be downright paralyzing and debilitating.
If you struggle with social anxiety, therapy can provide much-needed relief. You can improve your confidence and learn practical skills that will help you in various settings. Let’s get into it.
Understand Your Triggers
Therapy can help you learn more about the root causes of your anxiety. This awareness serves several purposes. First, it enables you to learn more about why you struggle with a particular issue. Second, it helps you identify and implement new strategies for coping with distress as it arises.
If you struggle with social anxiety, your triggers may include:
- Meeting new people
- Interacting with authority figures
- Dating and/or sex
- Academic, work, or athletic performances
- Sharing your opinion with others
- Engaging in specific tasks around others (reading aloud, eating in social settings)
Awareness is essential for growth. By understanding your triggers and identifying how you typically react to them, you can start creating realistic goals for change.
Create (And Work Towards) Appropriate Goals
Effective social anxiety treatment usually entails creating feasible, measurable goals. It’s not enough to be vague and say, I don’t want to feel anxious in front of other people. Instead, you may want to make a goal of signing up to take a new class that has always interested you. Maybe, you want to apply for a different job. Perhaps, you want to commit to asking that girl out on a date.
When you identify your goals, you can start to create a reasonable plan of action for achieving them. Your therapist can provide you with solutions for busting through barriers and working through old fears.
Working through your anxiety often starts with mere baby steps. By mastering baby steps, you feel more confident to keep moving forward.
Self-Soothe When Distressed
Social anxiety tends to make people feel overwhelmed and flustered. As a result, you may feel like your condition has caused you to become socially inept or incapable of making healthy connections. You may believe you’re doomed to a lifetime of perceived rejection!
This cycle can become a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy. To avoid rejection, you may limit social situations. Unfortunately, you then risk missing out on lucrative opportunities for growth, friendship, and meaningful changes in life. With that, you then tend to feel even more guilty, ashamed, and inferior.
Therapy can help you learn how to self-soothe and regulate your emotions when you feel escalated. Rather than succumbing to your anxiety symptoms, you can learn how to cope with them more efficiently.
No matter how far you progress, some anxiety is normal. The goal isn’t to eliminate your symptoms altogether (that wouldn’t be realistic!). However, you can learn healthier ways to manage the anxiety before you feel like it’s overtaking your life.
Receive Support and Encouragement
Like most mental illnesses, many people have misconceptions about anxiety. Loved ones with good intentions may ask you to toughen up or get over it. People may also try to convincingly tell you that you have nothing to worry about.
While these sentiments are usually meant to be helpful, they can feel invalidating. If you don’t feel understood, it’s easy to feel resentful and want to withdraw from others altogether. However, isolating with your own thoughts can make the healing process challenging.
Therapy provides a safe and warm environment for working through your anxiety. Your therapist will not judge you; instead, they will work hard to understand your struggles and help you feel supported. They will believe in you even when you struggle to believe in yourself. They will motivate, challenge, and cheer you on even when you feel like change feels impossible.
Getting The Treatment You Need If You Struggle With Social Anxiety
If you struggle with social anxiety, you already know how difficult navigating daily errands and interactions can be. Maybe you’re ready for a change. Perhaps you’ve tried some self-help strategies in the past, but you are looking for more direction or support.
No matter the circumstances surrounding your anxiety, therapy can help. Contact Willow Counseling today and schedule your free consultation online (no talking on the phone required!).
Willow Counseling, PLLC, Nashville, TN
Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.