Social anxiety can feel like the worst thing in the world. It can be incredibly limiting and make you feel like you cannot do anything or go anywhere. It isn’t something you can snap out of, affecting almost 20 million Americans yearly. Even so, managing your social anxiety and living a happy life is possible.
Sufferers tend to isolate themselves from others, but knowing how to overcome that fear is the first step toward healing a broken spirit. Isolation only exacerbates your worries, but with further education and practice, you can break free from social isolation and build stronger relationships with others.
Signs of social anxiety may not be apparent at first glance, as they are often internal fears that we prefer not to share with others. However, once you know what signs of social anxiety to look for, it becomes much easier to manage your condition and live an enjoyable life.
1. It is More than Shyness
Shyness is a genuine and common feeling but does not indicate social anxiety. While shy people can feel uncomfortable in social settings, social anxiety is a debilitating condition far beyond stage fright or shyness. When you have social anxiety, you may feel profoundly uncomfortable in almost all social situations.
You may have difficulty speaking in front of groups or being interviewed on camera. Also, you may even experience panic when asked to make a phone call. Your nervousness may be so intense that you cannot talk to people, or you may talk too much, making you seem less confident.
2. Extreme Fear in Social Situations
The fear that accompanies social anxiety is intense and often paralysing. When you feel this fear, you may freeze up or want to leave the situation immediately. This fear sometimes leads to a panic attack in which you feel like you can’t breathe and your heart is racing. You may feel dizzy or nauseous as well.
Although you may have felt nervous about an event or situation in the past, social anxiety is different because it persists no matter what is happening. When you have social anxiety, you may feel anxious about a variety of situations, or you may feel extremely anxious in only a few situations.
3. Avoidance of People and Social Activities
If you’re experiencing social anxiety, you may feel as if you’re unable to do anything at all. You may avoid going to the grocery store, the movies, or even hanging out with your friends. When you find that you’re avoiding most social situations, your disorder has likely become severe.
With a social anxiety disorder, you may feel like everyone is staring at you or judging you. You may also feel you have nothing to contribute to a conversation. If you feel this way, you must understand that these feelings are not real and are due to your anxiety.
4. Sweating and Shaking
If you have social anxiety, your body may react in various ways. You may experience profuse sweating, a pounding heart, and trembling. When anxious, your hands, feet, and legs may feel tingly or numb. In addition to sweating and shaking, you may experience nausea and feel like you want to vomit.
Your palms may be clammy, and your mouth may go dry. Not only are these symptoms unpleasant, but they also make it challenging to manage your anxiety. When you’re trying to talk to someone, your sweating and shaking may cause you to appear nervous and untrustworthy.
5. Shallow Breathing
If you’re experiencing social anxiety, it may cause you to breathe very quickly, making it hard to speak. Your anxiety may also cause your voice to shake, making you sound nervous and unconfident. These two symptoms can make it challenging to lead an everyday life.