Don’t You Worry About A Thing

Shyness can be depilating. It prevents you from socialising and makes you lose confidence in yourself. There are different degrees of shyness from being nervous, quiet and uncomfortable to being stressed and worried in the presence of others.

Some people can thrive in social situations whereas others just want to hide and become invisible. Some reasons this happens relates to fear of making a fool of yourself,  being the butt of bullying and therefore having a negative self image of yourself, your genetics, lack of confidence or maybe it’s just your personality.

For a long time I was a shy person, I know most people today who know me would be stunned my saying that, but it’s true.  I remember the first time I was invited to a party by a girl who lived up the street.  I was fine with just her being older, but when I got to the party and everyone was older I didn’t know how to handle it and recall running home in tears. I felt uncomfortable with people who I thought were more intelligent than me, better than me, more capable than me but I learnt to hide this as I got older. Though deep down I am still an introvert I do not display that trait. Most people see me as an extrovert but it has taken me years to stop being that shy scared little girl and work on me to get me to where I am today.

When you are exposed to situations that are unfamiliar we all get a little nervous however to those that are extremely shy they can suffer from a disorder called social anxiety or social phobia.

Approximately 3% of the population suffer from this situation and it can be found across all cultural groups. Children as young as 13 can show symptoms and 36% of the US population for example do not report symptoms for 10+ years to medical authorities.

Public speaking causes anxiety in many people but for others it can also be meeting new people, dealing with someone in authority, being the centre of attention, speaking to someone you are attracted to or dealing with criticism, These can also be a cause for feeling awkward and uncomfortable. The symptoms range from sweating, blushing, shaking, nausea, increased heart rate, dizziness, to having to constantly go to the bathroom or dealing with the urge to flee.

When the fight or flight response is activated, adrenaline is released, which produces a number of physical sensations and if we judge the situation as threatening we take the necessary action. This action can show up as depression, alcoholic problems or drug dependence at its worst. Medication can sometimes be prescribed to assist sufferers.

To cope we need to start by breathing slowly to decrease the rush of adrenaline and try and refocus our minds. We need to change the way we think. If we are put into the same situation time and again we develop a negative response to that situation. This needs to be managed and altered so it can become healthier for us to function. We need to overcome our fears and this can be assisted by us maintaining a healthy lifestyle though eating a healthy, balanced diet; doing regular physical exercise and having a good night’s sleep. Additionally support of family and friends is an important aspect to helping people with their shyness. Overcoming shyness is possible, but it’s not easy.

If you are troubled by feelings associated with shyness examine the following listed below.

Yes     No An intense and persistent fear of a social situation in which people might judge you
Yes   No Fear that you will be humiliated by your actions
Yes   No Fear that people will notice that you are blushing, sweating, trembling, or showing other signs of anxiety
Yes   No Knowing that your fear is excessive or unreasonable

Does a feared situation cause you to…

Yes   No always feel anxious?
Yes   No experience a panic attack, during which you suddenly are overcome by intense fear or discomfort, including any of these symptoms:
Yes   No Pounding heart
Yes   No Sweating
Yes   No Trembling or shaking
Yes   No Choking
Yes   No Chest pain
Yes   No nausea or abdominal discomfort
Yes   No “Jelly” legs
Yes   No Dizziness
Yes   No Feelings of unreality or being detached from yourself
Yes   No Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
Yes   No Fear of dying
Yes   No Numbness or tingling sensations
Yes   No Chills or hot flushes
Yes   No go to great lengths to avoid participating?
Yes   No have your symptoms interfere with your daily life?

Having more than one illness at the same time can make it difficult to diagnose and treat the different conditions. Depression and substance abuse are among the conditions that occasionally complicate social anxiety disorder.

Yes   No Have you experienced changes in sleeping or eating habits?

More days than not, do you feel…

Yes   No sad or depressed?
Yes   No disinterested in life?
Yes   No worthless or guilty?

During the last year, has the use of alcohol or drugs…

Yes   No resulted in your failure to fulfill responsibilities with work, school, or family?
Yes   No placed you in a dangerous situation, such as driving a car under the influence?
Yes   No gotten you arrested?
Yes   No continued despite causing problems for you or your loved ones?

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1994.



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