Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, affects around 6.8 million adults in the U.S. Still, many people struggle with this condition. They are not officially diagnosed by a mental health care provider, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
NIMH states that this anxiety disorder can be mild to moderate and sometimes only lasts several hours. It can be long-lasting, preventing you from participating in everyday activities and relationships with others.
SAD can be defined as excessive worry and nervousness about social situations and interactions with other people that impact an individual’s ability to function.
Although this condition may seem common, many people don’t understand what it means to have social anxiety or how it manifests itself in day-to-day life. Here are five examples of social anxiety and how you can learn from them to shed light on this topic.
1. Speaking in public
Public speaking is a common fear, and it's not surprising that it causes social anxiety. Many people fear public speaking because they don't want to be judged and scrutinized by an audience.
These feelings often lead to physical symptoms like increased heart rate and sweaty palms. Speaking in front of a small group or an individual may seem less daunting than presenting in front of hundreds of people. It's important for those with this fear to realize that most audiences have members who feel anxious before making their presentations.
2. Going out with friends
Going out with friends is an event that can trigger social anxiety. However, this experience doesn't have to be a terrible one. With the right mindset, you can make it a positive experience. Below are a few ways to help manage this anxiety:
- Make your expectations realistic.
- Plan and know what to expect.
- Practice what you'll say beforehand to feel more confident when meeting new people.
- Bring a friend or someone you know who's been there before to help introduce you.
- Arrive early so you don't feel rushed.
3. Talking on the phone
Phone conversations are one of the most common triggers for people with social anxiety. Feeling anxious about talking on the phone typically stems from a fear that the person on the other end will be judging you.
It's important to remember that this is not always the case and that they may have a similar experience or understanding of what you are going through.
Think about why it might bother you to talk on the phone:
- What does it mean if someone calls?
- What are you afraid might happen when someone calls?
- Why do those thoughts make you feel uneasy?
- How does it make your body feel when these thoughts come up?
- What would need to happen for those thoughts to stop bothering you?
4. Meeting new people
When meeting new people, it is important to be able to start a conversation confidently.
If you are too anxious to do so, try one of these techniques:
- Ask the person their name and tell them yours.
- Compliment the person on their appearance or wearing something.
- Tell them how much you enjoy their work.
- Bring up an interest in common that you share with the person, such as sports or music.
- The next time you see this person, remember what you talked about so you can pick up where your last conversation left off.
5. Ordering food at restaurants
If ordering food at a restaurant, you may feel intimidated and scared. Why? You're not sure what to say or how to act. You want the person taking your order to like you, and you're terrified they won't.
You worry that the way your voice sounds is unattractive, that you don't sound smart enough, or that they'll think your voice is annoying. The anxiety that occurs when eating in public: Eating in public can be stressful for someone with social anxiety. It's hard to eat while ensuring no one looks, talks too much, or is too quiet.
Social anxiety can make a person feel self-conscious, embarrassed, and even experience panic. It is important to remember that social anxiety is a common condition that many people experience at one time or another.
While it is not easy to deal with, there are ways to overcome social anxiety and improve your quality of life. Remembering these five examples of social anxiety may help you deal with it better in the future.