18 Sep Beating Social Anxiety without Alcohol or Drugs
Birthdays, holidays, and weekends – ‘tis always the season to party unless, of course, meeting new people or being in a crowd makes you sick. Do you feel knots in your stomach and begin to sweat profusely at the thought of arriving at a party? Does the cat always get your tongue because you’re afraid you might sound stupid or weird? If you can identify with any of this, you are not alone. In the United States, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) affects 15 million adults and affects men and women equally, according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America. More than just shyness, SAD interferes with daily life to the extent that you avoid social situations due to intense fear and distorted perceptions. SAD is a psychiatric condition that requires proper treatment, yet many people self-medicate with alcohol and drugs to “loosen up.”
Social anxiety vs. Shyness
Are you SAD or shy? One way to tell is to ask yourself how you feel about it. Shyness is a personality trait which goes away when you meet people and have some great conversations. You feel comfortable in your own skin though you may appear timid at first when meeting strangers. On the other hand, if you have Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as Social Phobia, you torture yourself with paranoid thoughts and feelings. You’ve been told that you worry too much, overthink things, and overanalyze situations more than the average person. Fears of being negatively judged, criticized or viewed by others are persistent and intrusive, pervading every area of life – academically, professionally and socially. It’s extremely hard to be comfortable in your own skin, and you cannot “turn off” this phobia as you would with shyness.
4 Tips on how to deal with social anxiety
How do you prepare for the next event you’re invited to? Here are a few easy steps to consider:
1. Make it a point to relax before the party. Don’t overload your schedule with multiple meetings and errands leading up to the event. Schedule a massage, take a hike, or hit the gym before you go. Whatever you decide, just make sure that you do something that you enjoy so you can be in a relaxed state of mind.
2. Consider the crowd and type of event you’re going to. How many people will you know? Did your roommate invite you to a family event where you don’t know anyone but your roommate? Is it for work or will you be hanging out with friends and possibly meet some new people? Brainstorm some conversation topics; what might you have in common with them?
3. Set some time limits. How long do you want to stay? If you decide to stay for an hour, then you can leave feeling no regrets.
4. Come prepared with meditation or deep breathing techniques in case you get anxious at the party. Read some inspirational quotes and memorize them. If you start to feel anxious, repeat the quote(s) over and over in your head to diminish feelings of anxiety. You can also take some very deep breaths and focus on your breathing.
Treatment for Social Phobia and Substance Use Disorders
When people seek treatment for substance use disorders, addiction therapists usually uncover another layer underneath the substance abuse, and it is not uncommon for therapists to discover social phobia as a co-occurring disorder. In the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) (1994), Social Anxiety Disorder is “defined as excessive fear in social situations in which the person believes he or she will do something embarrassing or have anxiety symptoms…that will be humiliating.” To treat social phobia, addiction therapists will use CognitiveBehavioral Therapy (CBT) to assist clients in altering their thought patterns so they can live with a more positive outlook on life. Other holistic methods like guided imagery and meditation will be utilized to give clients tools as coping mechanisms outside treatment.
Social Anxiety Treatment Center
New Method Wellness is a premier dual diagnosis treatment center based in South Orange County, California. Our Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and Residential Care programs integrate clinical evidence-based therapy with holistic methods to provide clients with the most comprehensive care possible; noted for the effectiveness and long-term recovery success of its programs, New Method Wellness has been featured on Dr. Phil, National Geographic and other media.
To learn more about New Method Wellness’s program, call (866) 951-1824!