According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, social anxiety disorder affects 6.8% of the U.S. population, or 15 million people. Social anxiety can afflict both introverts and extroverts, and doesn’t necessarily equate to shyness. Those who suffer from it can become triggered in a variety of social situations, from grocery stores to large parties to shopping malls. It can easily debilitate the sufferer and become a fixation, despite efforts to calm the anxiety. People with social anxiety have an extreme fear of interacting with others in certain settings, and everyday life can become a constant uphill battle.
Many people who suffer from social anxiety feel trapped inside their own minds and thoughts, and they tend to isolate themselves for periods of time if the anxiety becomes too much to bear. Many people unfortunately don’t understand what those who have social anxiety go through on a daily basis, however, artist Shea Strauss attempts to bring a little humor into the lives of those with social anxiety through her artwork.
We hope you will get a few laughs from these illustrations, and share them if you wish!
This Artist Perfectly Captures What It’s Like To Have Social Anxiety
1. Going Out To Eat
2. Going to a Bar
3. Going to a Party
4. Answering the Phone
5. Coming Home
We hope you enjoyed these comics, and if you’d like some tips for overcoming social anxiety, read on!
1.TRY NOT TO HAVE AN “ALL OR NOTHING” MINDSET.
Justin Weeks, Ph.D, an assistant professor of psychology and director of the Center for Evaluation and Treatment of Anxiety at Ohio University, said “Dispute both bleak thoughts that undermine your performance and fuel your anxiety, and equally unrealistic thoughts that are irrationally positive.”
What does this mean? Basically, you should practice retraining your brain to not automatically think of the worst case scenario, but also not get your hopes up too high. Having the mindset of a “realistic optimist” can make life exponentially easier, because you won’t have unrealistic expectations, but you also won’t dwell on every little thing that might go wrong.
2. GRADUALLY INCREASE YOUR EXPOSURE TO SOCIAL SITUATIONS.
This is what therapists call “cognitive behavioral therapy,” and if you do choose to see a therapist, he or she can help you through the necessary steps of feeling more comfortable in public.
Dr. Weeks said it best: “We avoid what frightens us, and in turn, are frightened by what we avoid.”
The longer you evade social encounters, the more the fear will build up in your mind. Of course, gradual exposure will ease you into the situation so you don’t become overwhelmed, so try to first imagine yourself conquering your fear. Picture yourself assuredly delivering a speech in front of your class, or confidently walking up to a group of people at a party, or even just having a relaxed conversation at your home with friends.
While you imagine this scenario, don’t focus on how others might perceive you. Just picture what you would ideally look, feel, and sound like if you felt totally comfortable in this social situation that you fear. Then, just go from there. Talk to your barista at the local coffee shop when you stop by, or go out with a trusted family member or friend to somewhere that makes you feel anxious, like a grocery store or mall.
It might feel uncomfortable or scary at first, but conquering the fears that you have implanted in your brain is a very necessary step on the path to recovery. Make sure to practice positive affirmations along your journey, because a positive mindset is key to overcoming any challenge, no matter how big or small.
3. PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING AND MEDITATION EXERCISES.
An emerging body of research continues to prove that mindfulness can ease symptoms, or even completely reverse, social anxiety disorders. People who suffer from any form of anxiety focus their attention entirely on the future – how people will react to what they say, what people will think of them, if people will notice their blushing face or shaky hands in a group setting, etc. However, meditation and deep breathing exercises teach them to bring their attention back to the present moment, and think of nothing else but their own breath.
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After practicing this for a few weeks or months, it becomes second nature, and they can use these valuable tools when talking to people, giving a speech, or anything else that requires interaction with people.