Victoria BC Counselling Tools

Free Tools and Resources for Managing Stress

Articles and tools to help you manage stress.

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    Aside from experiencing the difficult internal feelings of social anxiety disorder - tingling, high heart rate, extreme pits of fear, tense muscles, and shaking extremities - social anxiety sufferers also lack many of the common social skills that others possess. Not having the necessary social skills that most other people have at a certain point in their lives is not your fault. Your parents may not have taught you properly. For example, if you were too afraid to play with other children on the playground, your parents might have said, "Stop being so shy, Sam." Of course, you would have liked to if you could have, but you didn't know how. A more effective method of parenting would have been to point out specifically what to do: "Go ask those kids playing over there if you can play tag too." If you would have had better help developing your social skills, you would be doing a lot better at this point.

    Here are some of the techniques that can help you develop more social connections.

    1. Work on reducing your anxious symptoms. It is really difficult to have any kind of social interactions without feeling some level of calmness and relaxation inside. You know how it feels and I don't have to go into too much more detail on this. Some of the techniques to address reducing anxiety are:
    2. Expand your interests beyond what they are now. Having a fairly narrow range of interests only serves to isolate from people even more. Moving out of your shell, can help you learn so much more by reading and interacting with others. Write a lists of your current interests and abilities. Then, think about what interests and abilities are ones that you would like to develop. Learn as much about them as you can, or spend as much time as you can doing them. Now, you have a broader range of experience and knowledge to draw from, and when people have conversations, you have something valuable to contribute.

    3. Take a class revolving around a potential interest. This one can actually be doubly good. Not only are you learning more skills and gaining more experience revolving around a particular hobby or interest, but you are also putting yourself in front of a group of other people, which gives you the opportunity to work on reducing your social anxiety. Take only a class that you will enjoy, and see what happens!

    4. Join a group that revolves around your interest. Places to look include church, a college campus, book clubs at a library, or maybe even a social anxiety self-help group. There are other places to look, but these are some places to start. If you think the group is great, keep going. If it does not seem to be the funnest group around, go to it a couple more times and if things do not improve, then move on to the next group. Only you know what you like, and it is important to pay attention to that feeling.

    5. Volunteer for a local cause that you support. It may not seem like much to you, but if you come in and organize files, enter data into a computer, or stuff envelopes, you are helping that organization a ton. There are many, many organizations, especially nonprofits, which are undermanned and lack the resources to get everything they want done in a timely manner. You will experience multiple benefits as a result:
      • Positive feelings and improved self-esteem which result from doing good for someone else instead of feeling self-pity and shame for being different and not doing anything worthwhile with your life.
      • Gratitude and appreciation from others instead of guilt and shame trips for not doing more with your life.
      • The development of some basic workplace skills and experience working in an office environment, which may previously have aroused your fear.
      • The opportunity to be out in the world and reducing your anxiety instead of staying home and in your little shell.
      • In some cases, you can develop some job leads, and if nothing else, you may receive a good reference.
    6. Instead of looking at how you are different than others, look at how you can connect with others. Pay attention closely to what other people say in conversation, and try your best to relate to the things that they are saying. You are not going to connect with everyone, and in fact, you probably will not connect with most people. But, the number and quality of your current relationships will improve, and you will only find more. If you try to relate and connect with others, it will happen and you will not regret it!

    Try these techniques, especially the last one. They will help you develop the social skills to feel more connected to other people. Remember, though, that it will not happen overnight, but if you consistently apply these techniques over time, you will see the results!