Have Mental Health Questions? Ask a Psychiatrist Online
Hi, I hope I can offer some assistance.
Social anxiety, as in any anxiety, is a sign that your body's natural and protective fight or flight system is in effect turned up too high. Part of the function of the subconscious mind is to scan our surroundings and environment for threats, however, this system can, due to many factors, such as the level of threat we may be experiencing in the current pandemic situation, be doing it's job so well, or too well, so that this protective function actually becomes detrimental to us, as we experience anxiety and distress.
An effective psychotherapy that you can try, and that I will attach here for you, is called Thought Field Therapy.
This therapy is based on the same meridian system as is used in acupuncture, but instead of using needles to stimulate the system, we simply tap on the meridian points in a certain sequence. This therapy is recognised by the NHS as a complementary therapy.
Many people notice a significant shift in their experience of stress or anxiety following the therapy, as it releases the energy and helps to relieve the negative thoughts, feelings and emotions you may be experiencing.
It is helpful to rate your level of discomfort or subjective distress before and after the therapy, to note any shift in your feelings. Used regularly it can be very beneficial. It obviously cannot change the situation you may find yourself in, but it can help you to change or manage your perception of it and the associated feelings and responses, helping you to find a calmer more peaceful way of responding.
You can also try hypnotherapy, which can be effective at helping the deeper subconscious mind to re-frame the perception of threat to a more manageable level. There are many self-hypnosis apps available, such as one by Joseph Clough which has an approx. 40 min track on Social Anxiety. There are also downloadable MP3s available, such as those by www.hypnosisdownloads.com which you might find beneficial. Some of these are free, and some will carry a small fee.
Used regularly, this can be very helpful at helping to to feel safer and more relaxed.
Do let me know if I can offer any further assistance.
The fight or flight response has another response, freeze, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. This is designed as a protective response, and is effective in certain situations. have you always experienced a level of social anxiety, or can you pinpoint a root cause or event that may have triggered it?
This situation might have triggered this response because it made you feel vulnerable, the feeling that your inner feelings could be seen on the outside of you by others, even when generally they would not have been. The fear of not being good enough, or not worthy can often underpin social anxiety, and so this can make us vulnerable to a fear of rejection, where we allow others, or other people's response to us, define our self worth, or reinforce our own feelings of low self worth...
It is helpful to work on accepting ourselves the way we are, as a starting point to combating social anxiety, to find ways to build our inner confidence and self-esteem, and to bring our locus of control back inside of us. Though Field Therapy can be a helpful way of shifting the negative feelings, emotions and thoughts.
Definitely try the Thought Field Therapy beforehand. Alongside this, if you can find a self-hypnosis track for social anxiety that you can listen to often, and particularly before, or the night before, a particular situation or event, you can really begin to notice a shift in your response during the situation. This is because hypnosis works on the deepest level, the subconscious level of the mind, which is the part that runs these protective responses. Social anxiety is a protective response, the intention of it is to keep you safe, because the subconscious mind has learned to associate a threat with social situations. As you re-frame this connection on a subconscious level, the subconscious response to social situations will start to change. When we work only on the conscious level, we know what we should be doing or feeling, but the subconscious mind is not in alignment. We need to get all parts of us in alignment to really start to notice a shift, and hypnosis can allow the subconscious mind to begin to associate social situations with more positive feelings or responses, such as enjoyment, fun, entertainment, love, connection, fulfilment and safety. As we build our confidence, we can learn how to handle negative encounters more effectively too, and seeing them less as a reflection of our worthiness, and more as a reflection of someone else's own issues - nothing to do with us.
Keep well and safe.