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    SOCIAL ANXIETY RESOLUTIONS FOR 2012
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    Happy New Year to all! Welcome to the January 2012 Newsletter edition from Victoria Stress & Anxiety Counselling. Although it might be a little bit late to be wishing folks a happy new year, but better late than never. Every turn of the calender, people think of how to make things better, so I thought to write about resolutions for those afflicted with social anxiety.
     
    These ideas are not specific to the new year, in that they are applicable anytime. New Year's resolutions for social anxiety disorder sufferers may include everything from improving your social skills to vowing to take on more challenges. Regardless, many of you will be thinking about positive changes that you can make. Here is a list of ten resolutions that may help you better manage social anxiety in the new year.

    YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALL BY YOURSELF

    If you suffer with symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD) but have not received a diagnosis, make visiting your doctor a priority in the new year. The first step to making positive changes in your life is to receive an evaluation from a mental health professional. You don't need to suffer in silence for another year.

    TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

    Although treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication are proven methods for overcoming SAD, it is also important to maintain healthy lifestyle habits. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly will make it easier to live with less anxiety.

    TRY RELAXATION EXERCISES

     

    If you have not already, resolve to give relaxation exercises a whirl. Techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and diaphgragmatic breathing are self-help relaxation methods that you can practice on your own.

    TRY ONLINE PROGRAMS

    As the world of online treatment develops, so do online programs for coping with social anxiety disorder (SAD). If you have a computer and a bit of free time, make a point of trying out some of the online programs available for SAD. While no substitute for traditional treatment, these programs are free and often backed by scientific investigation when they are part of university research labs.

    IMPROVE SOCIAL SKILLS

     Social skills are important in both personal and business relationships. Learning how to give and receive compliments, make small talk, and make introductions are just some examples of skills that you can improve upon in the new year.

    ACCEPT CHALLENGES

    If you suffer with SAD, you probably have a tendency to avoid social and performance situations. Make a resolution to face challenging situations in the new year. Don't turn down that baby shower invitation; go and practice making small talk. Volunteer to do a reading at church. Challenging yourself will increase both your confidence and your abilities.

    READ ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE'S EXPERIENCES
    Vow to learn more about SAD in the new year. Read about celebrities who have suffered with the disorder and come back such as Donny Osmond and Zack Greinke. Visit support groups, forums, and blogs about SAD. Reading about others who have been through the same experiences and learned how to cope will give you motivation to make changes.
    SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES
    Share your experiences about living with SAD. Talking about how you feel, whether in a therapy setting or an online community, will help to organize your thoughts, and perhaps motivate you to make changes in the new year.

    BE MORE ASSERTIVE

     Although you will be accepting new challenges in the new year, it is also important to learn when to say no. If you have a tendency to be a people-pleaser, acting in an assertive manner may feel foreign at first. Like all skills, practice makes perfect.

    PRACTICE GRATITUDE

    Resolve to be happier with your position in life. Although you may face more social hurdles than people without SAD, there are always reasons to be happy. Use the "Three Blessings Exercise" to practice gratitude at the end of each day.

    THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS PROCESS

    Most importantly in this process is not how big of a step you take, but rather the direction you take. What I mean by this is to start doing something, doesn't have to be a big step, but it does have to be a step towards improving your life.  Once you've started taking the first step, follow up by being consistent.

    Consistency is the key, so keeping at it with likely be the most challenging part of the initial process. Taking your first step, whatever it is, then repeating this particular step will help in forming a good habit.

    All the best for the New Year!