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  • Writer's pictureKate Warren

Sorry I'm late... I didn't want to come.

Welcome back to the Stay U Blog! For those of you just joining us, my name is Kate, and I'm the Counsellor and Career Coach here at Stay U. In this blog, I will be talking about Social Anxiety.

Social Anxiety (also called social phobia) is an overwhelming feeling of anxiety when you are in (or, in extreme cases, just think about) social and public situations. You may have been invited to a party, or need to do a speech in front of your class. You may need to get the train home during peak hour, or you've been asked to go on a date. These situations can make the majority of us uncomfortable, frustrated or awkward, but if you start to avoid situations, or feel physically unwell (e.g. nauseous or dizzy), you may have a social phobia.

For people with social anxiety, even making eye contact with another person is nerve-wracking. This is why many of them tend to avoid this as it can be uncomfortable and awkward.

Even if it’s someone you know, social anxiety can make any potential social interaction dreadful. It can even cause even more embarrassing situations such as the one in the cartoon above.

The most common cause of Social Anxiety is the fear of being judged, criticised, humiliated or laughed at by others. Our inner voice tells us that we are going to look like a fool, make a mistake, or that something terrible is going to happen. We start to sweat, blush, or even feel like we are going to be sick. If these negative feelings start to affect your everyday life - your work, relationships and routine - then it may be time to seek some help from a Counsellor or Psychologist.

There are some things you can do for yourself before you seek professional help.

  • Write down the negative thoughts your inner voices are telling you, and see if you can challenge them. Ask yourself: - Is this thought based on facts? - What's the worst that can happen? - What advice would I give a friend in the same situation?

  • Instead of avoiding a situation, try to face it step-by-step. Set realistic goals that are aimed at completing the task at your own pace.

  • Learn and practice anxiety management techniques, like relaxation and breathing exercises. There are some great apps with simple, but effective, methods to help reduce stress and anxiety. My favorite's are Happify and Calm.

Lastly, remember that you are not alone. Social Anxiety affects around 10% of the population (mostly women), so there are quite a few of us who feel the same way.

Continuing on from today's blog, I will be talking about Relaxation Techniques in my next edition. Stay tuned for that one, and remember a problem shared is a problem halved. Take care and stay yourself!


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