Have you ever been asked the question “What is your most embarrassing moment?” and realize you have too many to choose from? Do you feel embarrassed all the time?
While all of us experience shyness in social situations at some point in our lives only about 7 to 13 percent of the adult population experiences something that may look like normal shyness but is much more severe.
Chronic, debilitating shyness or a deep fear of being embarrassed in front of other people or negatively judged is called “Social Anxiety” or “Social Phobia”.
Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety
Social Anxiety is the third most common mental health disorder among young adults, yet it is often ignored or associated with “normal shyness”. Left untreated, social anxiety can have a negative impact on young adult success and make school and work almost unbearable. Symptoms of social anxiety are:
- A constant fear of criticism or embarrassment
- Self-consciousness or embarrassment in social settings
- Negative self-image
- Difficulty being around people or speaking up in front of people
- Worrying for days or weeks before a social event
- Avoidance of social events, including classes or work
- Dwelling on or over-analyzing every social interaction
- Blushing, sweating or trembling when in the presence of other people
- Nausea brought on by social interactions
- Difficulty forming friendships or other relationships
Imagine for a moment that you are in a college lecture hall. Many of us would feel butterflies in our stomach a moment before raising our hand to answer a question in front of 200 unknown people. But for someone with social anxiety, even the possibility of having to speak in that lecture hall is something that could keep them from sleeping for weeks beforehand.
College is a place where social competency helps students succeed. Speaking up in lectures or during discussion sections gains the approval of the professor or tutor. Self-confidence during presentations generally results in a higher score. And when academic material gets tough, students are encouraged to reach out to their peers or tutors for help– something that is easy for students with self-confidence, but nearly impossible for those with social anxiety.
Many students with social anxiety have learned coping methods, including intense preparation for social settings, and can still be very successful in school. However, they generally struggle more than their outgoing peers.
Students With Social Anxiety Tendencies
It is important to remember that social anxiety is not just shyness or a personality trait. It is a mental health disorder that should be treated as such. Students experiencing social anxiety may:
- Maintain self-image at all costs, even if their methods are harmful to long-term success.
- Skip classes where they might be asked to speak.
- Avoid participating in classes that they do attend.
- Avoid asking for academic help.
- Do poorly on projects with presentation elements where stuttering and embarrassment can be misconstrued as lack of preparation.
- Avoid seeking help for their anxiety.
Criticism of academic performance is unhelpful to individuals with anxiety. Remember that it might be hard for a person to ask for help. Instead, offer to help them by setting up the first appointment with a mental health professional and support them through the process.
Tips to Manage Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is treatable. There are various ways to work through the social anxiety you or a loved one may be experiencing.
Talk therapy is the most commonly known method of therapy. Talk therapy is where you meet with a therapist to discuss your needs and learn new skills to work through your disorder.
Keep A Journal
As you work through your anxiety disorder, keep a journal of progress and experiences. Your journal will allow you to recognize triggers when you are being pulled back into old habits or see negative-thinking patterns. If you are asking yourself, “Why do I feel embarrassed all the time?”, journaling is a great way to record those moments. Focus on moments when you are feeling embarrassed and anxious to find behavioral patterns or as help during therapy to discuss difficult moments.
It is important to put your wants (aka goals) on paper. Commit to change and make a decision about what your goals actually are. If you can then create a path and steps towards that goal, when you are presenting with feelings of embarrassment or discomfort, you have a task or end goal to focus on and keep moving forward.
Review Your Diet and Improve Your Health
Poor health has shown great connections with our mental health. While working on the external part of social anxiety, begin by focusing on the inside and making positive improvements towards a healthier lifestyle. Start exercising regularly, reevaluate your diet and improve it as needed. Stay away from alcohol and find natural ways to calm your nerves such as chamomile tea.
Calculated Exposure to Social Settings
This method is best done with the guidance of a licensed professional. Exposure therapy is the method of actively putting yourself in situations that are fearful or stressful for you so you can work through how to cope with the fears as a professional is by your side. Studies have shown that exposure therapy has a reduced severity of symptoms.
Mindfulness and Breathing Practices
Once the anxiety sets in, it can be very difficult to bring blood pressure down and allow ourselves a moment to calm down. With practice, you can use mindfulness meditation and breathing techniques to curtail the negative effects of anxiety. Practice makes perfect, and it is no different when finding a calming technique for feelings of embarrassment or social anxiety.
If left untreated, however, only about one-third of individuals with social anxiety will achieve remission within 10 years. This is especially concerning given that social anxiety often coexists with depression and substance abuse disorders. If you are in a state of constant embarrassment or want to learn how to cope with social anxiety and prevent more serious issues, Pure Life’s wilderness adventure therapy may be just what you need.
What Is Wilderness Adventure Therapy For Young Adults?
Outdoor adventure therapy (also known as wilderness adventure therapy) is an opportunity for young adults to experience life in a new and calming way that allows them to work through issues with a licensed therapist that may be holding them back in life. Issues they would like help with could include depression, different varieties of anxiety, lack of focus or direction, or the feeling of being overwhelmed with the responsibilities of adulthood.
Pure Life Adventures program takes young adults with anxiety into a Costa Rican community and provides them opportunities to work with other young adults to cook community meals, serve the Costa Rican community, and harvest food from our organic garden. Young adults will work issues in group therapy environments as well as individual therapy and our licensed therapists.
One of the beautiful aspects of our outdoor adventure therapy is the opportunity to build self-confidence and meet anxiety head-on with new skills such as river rafter, surfing, rappelling, and other wilderness activities. We provide certification classes to ensure that these new skills are learned with safety in mind while building confidence in our students.
If you are experiencing social anxiety and feeling embarrassed all the time and don’t understand why Pure Life would like to talk to you. Please reach out and speak with our team to see if our outdoor adventure therapy would work for you.
If you are a parent or loved one to a young adult struggling to move forward in life due to social anxiety or other issues, please reach out and speak with Pure Life today to see how we can help.
If you want more information on anxiety and anxiety disorders and how to manage them, download our free white paper “Young Adult Anxiety” using the link below.
This white paper was sponsored by Pure Life, a research-based Wilderness Adventure Therapy program for young adults, located in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Pure Life offers safe, effective, and clinically sophisticated treatment options for young adults.