Social anxiety and how to manage it

Written by Kooth Tuesday 19 April 2022
All of us experience anxiety, for many it can have a distressing and debilitating impact. If you’re struggling, the experts at Kooth have some advice
An anxious-looking man sitting alone on a bed

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety is an overwhelming fear of social situations. It is sometimes referred to as ‘social phobia’.

Social anxiety is so much more than not particularly liking social situations, feeling shy, or being naturally reserved. Social anxiety can be a long-term issue that can have a real impact on someone's everyday life.

What are the symptoms of social anxiety?

Everybody is different, and experiences things in their own way. But here are just some common traits of social anxiety:

  • Anxiety about doing everyday activities, such as going to work, shopping, talking to people, or even getting on public transport.
  • Physical responses to your worry and anxiety, such as going red, sweating, increased heart rate, nausea and shaking.
  • Avoidance of situations and experiences that you may find uncomfortable, such as meeting with friends, or going out to eat with others.
  • Having extreme anxiety or worry in the lead up to a social situation you can’t avoid, such as a family gathering, work event, or birthday party.
  • Fear of being judged or watched by others in social situations (e.g. you might worry about people watching you eat, or people noticing any physical responses to anxiety such as going red or shaking).
  • Scrutinising your performance in social situations (e.g. being overly critical or fixating on the things you think went wrong).

Please note, your symptoms of social anxiety might be different to the ones described above. Equally, the examples above might be indicators of something else too, which is why it can be helpful to get professional support.

Keep reading for tips and strategies on managing your anxiety


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