Editor’s Note: This post was contributed by EWN psychotherapist Kate Maleski, LCSW-R
Picture this… A high school freshman trying out for the softball team. She is anxious, surrounded by new faces, new school and longing to be accepted. If only she could make the team maybe starting a new school wouldn’t be so scary. She would already be “a part” of something.
At the end of tryouts names are posted and this girl’s name was not on the list.
That girl was me.
Teens can often feel alone in a very BIG world which can be the cause of social anxiety. In grade school and high school I remember feeling like I was fighting to survive.
Hoping I don’t blush. Sweating, feeling nauseous, worried that I would have to carry on a conversation and no words would come out or even worse, the wrong words! Sometimes I thought: How am I ever going to live through this day, let alone the rest of the year!
EVERYONE HAS SOCIAL ANXIETY! OK not everyone, but a LOT of people have social anxiety! Different people just show it differently.
Here are some tips to help decrease your anxiety:
- Stop and ask yourself, What is the cause? Identify the source of your anxiety. Sometimes you tend to think everything causes you to become anxious but if you take time to think about the real cause you can break it down into more manageable steps.
- Take baby steps: If your goal is to be a part of a conversation that more than 4 people are in then first take a smaller step. Enter a conversation of 2 people and see how it feels.
- Practice positive self talk: If you are thinking negatively you are more likely to feel negative which decreases your self esteem. Give yourself a break. The negative messages you are sending to yourself are not helping you.
- Pick-up a wingman: Try to enter an anxiety provoking situation with someone else. Even if it is not your friend invite that person to come along. You may be surprised how much easier it is to walk into a room next to someone.
- Fake it: When you act confidently (even when you’re squirming inside) you can decrease your anxiety and you may find the situation not as bad as you imagined.
Think of anxiety as just a bad habit and like most bad habits you can change it!
Join our group for teenage girls, GIRLS IN CHARGE! starting February 19, 2014! Call or email me if you’re interested! I’d love to hear from you!
Photo courtesy of Troy Benson Photography