We all feel queasy and uncomfortable about social gatherings or occasions from time to time. Maybe you dread bumping into somebody you dislike or want to stay away from nagging relatives. But when social anxiety deters you from leading a normal life and comes in the way of realising your full potential, it is a matter of concern.
Here are some signs of social anxiety that you should watch out for…
What is social anxiety
Social anxiety is the gnawing sense of uneasiness or worry that revolves around one’s interaction with others. You might feel that you are constantly being judged and examined in a negative way. Many times, not only the social exchange but the very prospect of it can be extremely daunting. In the book ‘Social Anxiety and Phobia in Adolescents’ by Ranta, K., La Greca, A.M., Garcia-Lopez, L.-J., Marttunen, M. (Eds.), it is explained that ‘Social anxiety is a common experience that occurs in response to the perceived threat of evaluation from others before, during, or after social situations.’
Social anxiety can also show itself in physical forms where your body starts reacting visibly. Neeta Chandrashekar, House Wife shares, “I was always a shy person, but whenever I had to go to a family function from my husband’s side, there was a strange reaction, my palms would start sweating and I would start trembling a bit. Initially, I used to mistake it for falling sick, but later realised that it was due to social anxiety.”
Some of the physical symptoms are:
- Out of the blue, you start to sweat, maybe from your palms or face.
- Your heart starts beating faster, sometimes to the point that you can hear it.
- You feel light in the head as if you are about to faint.
- Your mouth feels dry.
- You begin to shiver.
- You begin to blush out of awkwardness, shyness or embarrassment.
Avoiding social scenarios and fretting about it weeks prior
The thought of attending any social function gets you so worked up that you come up with any possible excuse to get out of it. And if it is unavoidable, you begin to excessively worry about going. Ashwin Reddy, IT Professional confesses, “I belong to a huge extended family and there was always one function or the other, which I stay away from as much as possible. Everybody thinks that I am arrogant, but the truth of the matter is that I get very anxious about the whole thing and it makes me queasy.”
You feel embarrassed and self-conscious at social gatherings
There is this feeling of being uncomfortable in your skin. You haven’t done anything stupid, but yet feel extremely embarrassed and self-conscious in front of others. Even if you do slip up a bit, say drop a glass or something, in your head, you blow the thing completely out of proportion. You hold yourself back in being your true self as you worry what people will say or think. Sometimes, even when the function is over, you keep reviewing your behaviour.
You struggle to have a conversation with others
It is not like you have nothing to say, but the thought of striking up a conversation with anyone at a social activity can be extremely daunting. You do not have the confidence to talk and hence prefer keeping to yourself. Rishi T, an Intern says, “Throughout college, I was the weird one as I never spoke much. I certainly would have loved to do so, but the whole prospect of speaking to a stranger and even known people was nerve-wracking. I’m working on my social anxiety issues and am in a much better position today.”
You worry about being judged
There is a constant fear of being judged. At any social activity, you feel everybody’s eyes upon you and various thoughts keep running in your mind such as ‘I’m looking foolish’, ‘What will people think of me’, etc. You feel that people are making a mockery of you even though that is not the case.
It is not easy for you to make or retain friends
Due to all of the patterns mentioned above of being self-conscious, uncomfortable and being unable to strike up conversations, it is not easy for you to make friends. And lack of social interaction might get in the way of retaining the ones you do have.
If you are suffering from any of the symptoms above, do remember that there is light on the other side of the tunnel. With proper counselling, you can overcome your anxiety and fears. Remember, you are entitled to live a fulfilling and complete life.
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