Social anxiety is an experience most everyone has to one degree or another. Some experience mild anxiety in social settings, and this likely won’t lead to drinking or drug use. However, for others, social anxiety is strong. It can be intense. In fact, it’s so intense for some people that it can come with physical symptoms.
Social Anxiety Disorder
You might be excessively worried about how he or she looks or will behave and might even avoid those situations to escape the anxiety, rather than enjoying that experience.
Social phobia tends to also come within an extreme feeling of self-consciousness and a fear of humiliating oneself.
Although not all people have social anxiety to the degree that it is debilitating or considered a mental illness, it’s common to either smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or use recreational drugs as a way to manage social anxiety in public settings.
For some, the continued use of substances in order to control anxiety can lead to addiction. And for this reason, there could be a strong relationship between social anxiety and addiction.
Knowing this can be particularly important, if in the past, your anxiety has led to drinking or drug use. To help decipher whether this is true or not, take a look at the following symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder.
Have You Had Any of the Following Symptoms in a Social Setting?
- Palpitations (heart pounding)
- Tachycardia (heart racing)
- Overwhelming sensations
- Lump in the throat
- Shakiness in hands, head, knees, or elsewhere in the body
- Blurred vision
- Tightness in the chest
- Pain in the chest
- Ringing in the ears
- Shortness of breath
- Blushing or feeling flushed
- Parathesias (tingling in the fingers, toes, face)
- Depersonalization / Derealization (feeling as though you or your surroundings are not entirely real)
If you have found that these symptoms have influenced your decision to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use recreational drugs, perhaps you’re in need of better coping tools. Instead of turning to substance abuse to manage your social anxiety and physical symptoms.
The Following Relaxation Techniques Can Take the Place of Substance Abuse.
- Breathe. Right in the moment of feeling anxious, you can turn your attention to your breath and fill the body with air. This can immediately create a feeling of relaxation.
- Change your thoughts. Sometimes what’s exacerbating our anxiety are the thoughts that are going on in the mind.
- Exercise. This releases endorphins and promotes emotional well-being.
- Step outside for a few moments. Enjoy the sun and fresh air. You might try to find a beautiful view or landscape to view while you relax before returning to socialize.
- Practice yoga. Yoga is a practice, a form of exercise, which invites an integrated experience of body and mind. Its effects can be experienced immediately as well as over time.
- Listen to music. Soft and relaxing music can influence mood. If you’re feeling stressed, listen to music that is slow and calming.
- Use scents to relax you. Breathe in the scent of fresh flowers or coffee beans, or savor a scent that reminds you of a favorite memory. Use your sense of smell to create a more relaxed inner experience. For instance, smelling the scent of sunscreen might remind you of being on vacation or being at the beach.
- Make yourself a steaming cup of tea. Teas like chamomile or peppermint can help relax the body.
Of course, some of these techniques you can’t necessarily do at the time of a social event. However, you can do them on a regular basis, which can help ease your overall sense of psychological tension.
Then, when you’re faced with the possibility of heightened stress in a social setting, you’re body will already be familiar with how to relax. Social anxiety can be a challenge for many people, but with the right coping tools, it doesn’t have to be.
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