Have you wondered what it feels like to have social anxiety? Social anxiety can feel like a huge weight on your chest, making it hard to breathe, or talk to someone. Your heart races and your mind races with thoughts of what they might think of you or judge you.
What Is It Like To Live With Social Anxiety?
It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe to someone who has not felt it. It’s not being shy. It’s a feeling of being out of control like you’re not in your own body, and you’re watching yourself. It can feel like being outside your own body, looking at the life you’re leading.
Anxiety is a natural reaction to stress. But it can feel like their anxiety about being anxious is spiraling out of control for some people. This is known as social anxiety or social phobia, and it can be paralyzing for those who suffer from it. Without a doubt, avoiding the stressors that cause your social anxiety is the best solution for your mental health. But this is easier said than done. What if you don’t have the means to escape to a tropical island for a month? What if you don’t have any friends or family to lean on?
Social anxiety is the fear of being judged, scrutinized, or embarrassed in public. Social anxiety disorder affects 15 million adults or 8.7 percent of the population. It tends to peak in the teenage years, and it can be crippling if left untreated. People with social anxiety feel self-conscious going out in public, interacting with strangers, or speaking up at work. They’re afraid they’ll do or say the wrong thing, or that others will judge them for their mistakes.
They worry that they’ll appear boring, weak, stupid, or foolish. They may avoid eye contact, blush, sweat, stumble over their words, or stammer. All these unhelpful thoughts and symptoms can make them feel nervous and embarrassed. Social anxiety disorder symptoms can make it hard to go to a party, work on a group project, or talk to a romantic interest. This can be hard for people around you to understand. Social interaction is difficult and can lead to a panic disorder. Social phobia is not good for your mental health.
What Is It Like To Have Social Anxiety?
Here are some things you might go through with social anxiety symptoms.
- Knowing you’ll feel anxious and not knowing what to do about it
- Intense fear of being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated
- Trying to avoid social situations
- Experiencing a physical symptom like nausea and sweating
- Worrying that you’ll do something that will make you look foolish or weird
- Feeling that no one likes you
- Being terrified that you won’t be able to handle a situation and making a fool of yourself.
- Having negative thoughts constantly
Some people feel anxious in social situations. But people with social phobia have extreme reactions to their anxiety. Some people with SAD will avoid many social situations. In contrast, others will be able to take part in them. But with extreme anxiety and practicing safety behaviors. The human brain is an imperfect and fallible organ. It is wired for pattern recognition. And for seeking out and paying attention to things that are important to our survival. And the brain can mistake something that is not dangerous to us as being dangerous. As a result, we experience things like social anxiety.
It is a kind of nervousness that we feel in social situations. It can make us feel self-conscious, anxious, and like we are not good or don’t fit in. Because you have social anxiety disorder doesn’t mean that you can’t function in the world. Social anxiety doesn’t mean that you can’t have friends or go to parties or do the activities you enjoy. But it does mean that you can’t do them without experiencing extreme anxiety.
How Social Anxiety Affects You
The common symptoms of anxiety are tension, nervousness, and fear. Social anxiety sufferers may feel these symptoms as physical symptoms. Your heart races, your face gets hot, you feel shaky, or you have trouble breathing. It is important to note that you can feel anxious without feeling the physical symptoms. The physical symptoms occur as your anxiety goes to the next level. You feel you are losing control and getting overwhelmed.
It’s not about sweating. It’s about feeling out of control. You’re convinced you’re going to die. And out of the corner of your eye, you see the waitress coming over to ask you for your order. It’s about the humiliation of being in a crowded room, and you think everyone is looking at you and judging you. It’s about the panic of being called on in class and the terror of having to walk to the front of the class to answer.
It’s about being distracted and convincing yourself every single person can see you’re struggling to think of the answer. You feel like everyone is watching you and judging you, and you’re not sure you can live through it. An anxious person may fear social interactions. Like taking part in conversations, eating, or drinking in front of others. Or using the bathroom in the presence of others.
How You React To Social Anxiety
You’ve felt it—that moment of panic in a room full of people. And you’re afraid to leave or talk because you’re afraid of embarrassing yourself. This feeling of intense self-consciousness. The fear that you will say or do something stupid in front of others and fear being judged or embarrassed. This is social anxiety—an intense fear of scrutiny and judgment from others. If you are experiencing it, you might feel like you are the only one that has felt this way. This is not true, but it can feel like it. It’s difficult to explain to people who don’t have it. And it’s not understood by people who are close to those who have it.
Social anxiety disorder is more than feeling anxious in a social situation. It is living with anxious feelings every day, all day, for no clear reason. It’s common to compare social anxiety to stage fright that you get giving a big presentation. And being nervous about doing well.
But, if social anxiety disorder symptoms are present, people aren’t just nervous. They’re consumed by intense feelings of fear, dread, nervousness, and self-consciousness. The symptoms of severe social anxiety are very real. And while they are manageable, they are not something you can ‘just get over’.
Many people with social anxiety disorder practice safety behaviors. The term “safety behavior” refers to the strategies people use in an attempt to prevent or minimize the unwanted consequences of social anxiety. For example, a person with social anxiety may feel the urge to flee from social situations.
Instead of leaving, s/he may engage in safety behavior. Such as fidgeting, looking at the ground, avoiding eye contact, or murmuring agreement. Safety behaviors are problematic because they tend to reinforce anxiety. Things like avoiding eye contact, smiling a lot, or twirling your hair. These safety behaviors can be an integral part of coping with social situations.
These behaviors can be automatic. You may not realize you’re doing them. But for those with social anxiety, they’re a big part of the problem. Safety behaviors can be risky because they can make your anxiety worse. You avoid eye contact, for example, you might feel more self-conscious than you did. You might think, “Everyone is looking at me” or “I know they’re talking about me.” As a result, you might tense up more, and you might start avoiding social situations altogether.
What Social Anxiety Feels Like
There’s nothing like that ringing in your ears. The feeling of your neck growing hot and the absolute terror of being alone. That’s what social anxiety feels like. It’s a horrible feeling that’s hard to explain to others. It’s like you are waiting for the whole room to turn to you and say, “Hey. You’re weird, and we don’t like it”. It’s like you’re waiting for your boss to tell you that you’re fired, without reason. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling that you can’t escape.
Most people feel a little anxious about some things in social situations. But the difference between normal social anxiety and social anxiety disorder is huge. With a social anxiety disorder, you have an uncontrollable fear of being scrutinized and judged by others. Or of embarrassing yourself in public.
Everyone gets nervous, But for some people, that feeling never goes away. If you’ve ever had a panic attack, it’s likely that you’ll never forget how horrible it felt. But what if you had to live with that feeling every day, and you couldn’t make it go away? That’s what life is like for people with social anxiety and what it feels like to have social anxiety.