Having Social Anxiety can have a negative effect on self-confidence and impacts significantly in social interactions and quality of life fulfillment.
Research supports that an overall sense of fulfillment and happiness in life is markedly improved by social interactions and contact. However, for a person with severe shyness, these interactions bring intense stress and feelings of being judged. The internal critic becomes very active as the individual internally criticizes themselves for being, “boring” or “stupid” and feels like the other person in the conversation is ‘definitely’ judging them. This brings about a lot of worrying in advance of any potential meetings.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety/Shyness may include:
- Anxious thinking and ‘catastrophising’ in advance of any social encounter
– thinking of worse case scenarios
- A feeling that the entire room or group is looking and judging you during social interactions
- Feelings of stress, shame (“I’m an idiot”) and irritation (judging yourself, others and the situation harshly)
- Over self-critical and a desire not to draw attention to yourself (won’t speak up as to do so would attract attention therefore your wants and wishes go unheard)
- Avoidance – avoiding contact with people and social situations, which may lead to low mood and/or depression as you become more and more socially isolated
- Safety behaviours – mental checking you have said everything correctly, holding yourself tense, saying nothing that is not in total agreement with the social group, not taking any risks – only sitting with very well known people, not engaging, planning your exit
- Physical Symptoms – such as tightness in the chest, racing mind, pins and needles in the hands and feet, difficulty breathing and a feeling that something is stuck in your throat, hyper-vigilance as you scan the room, worrying thoughts (about past and perceived future encounters), mind goes blank, blushing, verbal stammer
- Difficulty with presentations in work place situations and social interactions e.g. dinner nights out with friends or colleagues
- May lead to substance abuse (problem drinking in social situations) or eating disorders (to numb feelings)
Online CBT & Mindfulness Counselling aims to support you with:
- Understanding your social anxiety – defining the aspect of your problem that are problematic for you and outlining your safety behaviours
– How is it affecting me
– How do I want it to change?
– What I would need to try to bring this change about (treatment plan)
- Working on letting go of fear concerning judgment (self and from others) to feel more equal rather than inferior to others
- Overcoming feelings of anxiety and stress with thought records and by challenging unhelpful self-beliefs e.g. “I don’t belong. This is completely awful” to more balanced thinking styles, “I have the right to be here. It is challenging but I can manage even though it’s difficult”
- Defining and changing our assumptions about others and their focus on us!
- Providing a space for you to express your feelings and thoughts
- Increasing social experiences rather than avoiding them and establishing manageable social challenges with new thinking approaches. Changing safety behaviours to more self-supportive activities
- Mindfulness environmental focus skills to focus out attention outwards rather than inwards
- Increasing self fulfilling and stress-less activities
- Recognising and learning not to take our ‘internal critic’ so seriously!
- Provide CBT and mood support handouts (via email) to support positive emotional change
- Building confidence by reducing self-consciousness
- Integrating Mindfulness Based Cognitive skills to increase wellbeing and self-acceptance
- Integrating support techniques e.g. thought records and journaling to increase self compassion (being your own best friend) as you also make others
- The way you think about yourself/others
- What you think about the situation or problem you are experiencing and
- How what you do and feel is influenced by what you think and believe. It includes a solution-focused approach to problems and supports positive change with CBT worksheets.
Mindfulness Therapy is beneficial because Mindfulness supports the body and the mind.
- Integrating Mindfulness improves mental and physical health
- It helps to relieve stress and improves clarity of mind
- Mindfulness is supportive in the treatment of depression, low mood, anxiety, couples conflict and stress reduction
- Mindfulness also helps people to manage painful emotions (Harvard Medical School)