Social anxiety is the fear of social situations and the interaction with other people that can automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgment and inferiority. Everyone has feelings of anxiety, nervousness and stress in their lives from time to time. Almost everyone has felt anxious in social situations at one time or another. Many people get nervous on occasion, like when having to speak in front of a group or when interviewing for a new job, while others are anxious and nervous in almost all social situations.
But social anxiety is more than just being shy or having occasional nervousness. It involves intense fear of social situations. It’s more common among introverts and because each person has a unique chemical make-up, the intensity and frequency of the symptoms vary greatly from person to person. In the United States, studies have recently pegged social anxiety disorder as the third largest psychological disorder in the country, after depression and alcoholism. At the present time, it is estimated that 7-8% of the population suffers from some form of social anxiety. Many learn to cope and overcome social anxiety through self-help methods or seek counseling. However, those who are severely impaired due to high levels of anxiety should seek professional help.
Social anxiety sufferers have negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their anxiety. Challenging your negative thoughts is one effective way of reducing the symptom. Dr. Amen has created a powerful and effective exercise, called Kill the ANTs, that takes no more than a few minutes to complete and will help reverse your negative thought process. “ANTs” are Automatic Negative Thoughts that come into your mind automatically but are not true. Left unchecked, these ANTs can infest your mind and ruin your mood, relationships and life. Dr. Amen says “You do not have to believe every stupid thought that goes through your head.” Whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, write down the thoughts that are bothering you, reveal the facts about the situation and talk back to them.
Another way to boost your mood and reduce anxiety is to write down five things you are grateful for every day. Research suggests that focusing on gratitude helps to calm the deep limbic or emotional areas of the brain and enhances the judgment centers. When you focus on what you love, your brain works better and you’ll feel better. You will notice a significant positive difference in your level of happiness in a short period of time!
Taking supplements like fish oil, such as Dr. Amen’s Omega-3 Power will increase levels of omega-3 fatty acids that have been associated with anxiety and depression. GABA, such as Dr. Amen’s GABA Calming Support, has shown to promote relaxation by increasing calming, focused brain waves, while also reducing other brain waves associated with worry. Dr. Amen’s new “Everyday Stress Relief” formula is also a helpful, natural supplement that would ease the social anxiety.
A balanced diet between protein and complex carbohydrates is also best for the anxious/compulsive brain type. An example of a balanced breakfast would be two scrambled eggs and tomato salsa in an Ezekiel wrap. Lunch would be a brown rice bowl with Tamari and grilled wild Alaskan salmon. Dinner- rotisserie chicken with roasted brussels sprouts and quinoa.
Last, a few other suggestions for reducing anxiety would be meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, listening to relaxing music, intense exercise, hypnosis and optimizing vitamin D levels.