What is social phobia?
Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder is the acute fear of certain social situations, especially those that are unfamiliar or those that make you feel you are being evaluated or watched. Some of these situations may evoke much anxiety such that you get nervous just by the thought of them and even try to avoid them.
The underlying social phobia disorder is the fear of being judged, scrutinized, or embarrassed in public. Even though you may be aware of this intense fear and anxiety, you still feel anxious and feel that there is nothing you can do about it. In reality, there are a lot of things you can do to eliminate or at least reduce this social phobia; it all starts with understanding the underlying trigger or cause of the problem.
Social phobia triggers
I would have wished to just directly prescribe for you a pill for social phobia but unfortunately that is not how it works. To be able to treat or control social phobia you need a comprehensive approach. This will involve understanding what exactly triggers social phobia in YOU, and then go ahead and pick solutions that work in your unique situation. The list for social phobia triggers is endless but here are the commonest that you should deal with;
- public speaking
- meeting new people
- making small talk
- being watched while you do something
- being criticized or teased
- talking to "important" people
- going for a date
- taking exams
- performing on stage
- eating in public
Social phobia treatment options
1. Behavior therapy-face your fears
The main goal of this therapy is to adjust and be able to control unwanted behavior. It is archived by the individual learning to cope with social triggers, often by controlled exposure to the particular triggers. Take small steps at a time to face your fears, as impossible it may seem. If you are afraid of meeting new people for example, you may start by accompanied your outgoing friend to dinners or parties. To be successful here, don't start with your biggest fear, and then be patient.
2. Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation technique is a social phobia treatment that helps an individual to develop the ability of coping with stresses and situations that lead to social phobia, and their physical symptoms. Techniques used here include re-training, exercise and breathing. One of the symptoms of social phobia is over-breathing or unsynchronized breathing. This usually throws off oxygen balance and leads to anxiety symptoms such as a feeling of suffocation, muscle tension, increased heart beat and dizziness. Using progressive relaxation technique helps you slow down and balance your breathing and get rid of social phobias symptoms.
You can perform progressive relaxation by first lying on the bed facing the ceiling with your arms on the side. Breathe in deeply and hold, starting with your feet, twist and tense the ankles and toes until you feel mild pain, then relax and breathe out. Repeat this progressively with your thighs, abdomen, back, shoulder and neck muscles.
Yoga is another very effective exercise for social phobia treatment.
Practicing any Yoga poses with relaxation breathing techniques eliminates muscle and mental stress as well as negative energy that are responsible for the physical symptoms of social phobia.
3. Challenging negative thoughts
Anxious people tend to be pessimistic to situations and events, and they are always focused on the worst possible outcomes. Start by reducing self-focus and focus on the environment and people around you. Actually listen to what someone is saying rather than on your own negative thoughts. Do not take all the responsible of keeping the conversation going, silence is sometimes okay. Surround yourself with positive people and use therapy techniques to fight automatic negative thoughts.
4. Building better relationships
This involves actively engaging in social activities and joining supportive groups. This helps you make new friends, build your social skills and uplift your self esteem. You can also take assertiveness, social skills and communication skills classes. This are usually offered at local education centers and most of them are either sponsored or relatively cheap. These trainings help you adjust your behavior, lifestyle and personal believes in order to tackle social phobia and its physical and psychological symptoms.
5. Social phobia treatment therapies
There are various therapies that can help an individual deal with both psychological and physical symptoms of social phobia. Therapies are also very effective in that they can help reverse long term health effects of anxiety and social phobia through counseling and training. They may however require a profession such as a social therapist, psychologist or a councilor. They include;
- cognitive therapy: The main goal is to change harmful or unproductive thought pertains. The individual gets to learn his/her feelings and how to separate unrealistic from realistic thoughts.
- Cognitive-behaviors therapy: combines behavior and cognitive therapy to enable individuals learn useful social phobia recovery skills.
- hypnotherapy: Helps individuals reprogram automatic subconscious 'programs' that triggers social phobia.
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): it is a little complex therapy where the therapist studies the patients and try's to understand how they create reality through conscious "constructs" or mental "programs"-then use it to re-program there behaviors.
- Energy Psychology: It borrows the basic principle of acupuncture to balance body energy, eliminate muscle and mental stress as well as both psychological and physical symptoms of social phobia.
Using a combination of two or more of this social phobia treatment options is more effective and faster. Note however that not all these options will work for everyone, so try and find out what works for you and then be patient-yes, patient.
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