Living with social anxiety can make normal interactions feel more nerve-racking than giving a speech to a crowd of people.
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by a persistent fear of social situations—whether it’s going to a party, speaking up during a meeting, or chatting with someone you don’t know very well. It's a daily gamble dodging uncomfortable moments.
If you find yourself struggling with social situations on a regular basis, you may be living with social anxiety. And you may often experience physical symptoms like sweating, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and even nausea. But not all signs are so readily discernible.
Here are seven sneaky ways it can show up in your daily life.
1. You Dread Making Appointments
Your hands shake when you call the doctor to schedule a check-up. Or you feel queasy when making reservations at restaurants or picking up the phone to order a pizza.
All of these simple tasks can be incredibly stressful if you have social anxiety. And so, you may try to hand someone else the phone to take care of these responsibilities for you instead of handling them yourself.
2. You're Stressed Out by Small Talk
Small talk comes naturally to some people. But if you're living with social anxiety, it can become like a nightmare.
You may feel like you’re at a total loss for words when you’re expected to make polite chit chat with someone you just met. Worse even, you may have incessant worries that they find you boring or annoying. And, therefore, you may try to excuse yourself from the conversation early or avoid it altogether.
3. You Have Trouble Making Eye Contact
Making eye contact when you talk to someone shows that you’re listening and engaging with what they’re saying. When you have social anxiety, making eye contact can be highly uncomfortable.
In fact, it may make you feel intimidated or judged. And you may catch yourself looking anywhere but directly at the person you’re speaking with.
4. You Find Starting Conversations Is a Challenge
Even if you want to strike up a conversation with someone, your mind may be drawing a blank when you open your mouth.
Sure, you may feel comfortable talking to someone more extroverted who carries the conversation. But when it’s your turn to ask questions, you suddenly freeze and feel like you don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute.
5. You Experience Anxiety at Work
People living with social anxiety often find that this disorder affects their performance at work.
Whether you’re trying to keep it together during a one-on-one meeting with your boss or doing your best to stay calm while helping an unhappy customer, you may feel like you’re under a ton of pressure to be “on” at all times. For some reason, it seems so much harder for you than for anyone else.
6. You Hesitate to Ask for Help
If you're living with social anxiety, you may find that you avoid asking for help at all costs. Often, it may be because you feel like others will find your reasonable requests irritating or inconvenient.
Do you insist on solving difficult problems on your own, even when you know someone who might be able to lend you a hand? Do you feel like a burden if you ask a close friend for a favor? These may be subtle signs of social anxiety.
7. You Delay Social Interactions
Maybe you’ve had “Go to the bank” or “Call the dentist” on your to-do list for weeks, but you continue putting it off. Yes, you're aware that you could get it over within a few minutes, but something holds you back.
Of course, you know that you definitely have to check it off your list at one time or another, but you’re nervous about the social interactions that come along with it. Purposefully putting tasks like these on the back burner and avoiding errands that require social interaction are often signs of social anxiety.
If you're ready to tackle your social anxiety head-on, contact me today; anxiety counseling can help. Or click HERE to find out more about social anxiety therapy, my approach, and your options.