Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition characterized by a persistent and overwhelming fear of being judged, embarrassed or humiliated by others. It causes intense and irrational anxiety in social settings.
People who suffer from social anxiety disorder can experience extreme fear in doing everyday things like attending school, going to work, meeting new people, appearing for a job interview, etc. In many cases, social anxiety can also get in the way of eating and drinking in front of others. Therefore, people with social anxiety disorder tend to stay away from most social settings.
Although social anxiety is a chronic mental health condition that can affect your day to day activities, it is not a disorder without a cure. Treatment can help you relieve the symptoms of social anxiety and improve your condition. One of the best ways of treating social anxiety disorder is through meditation.
Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
- Experiencing rapid heart rate in social gatherings
- Sweating and trembling around people
- Feeling nauseous or sick to the stomach
- Being self-conscious in public
- Feeling embarrassed and awkward around people
- Staying away from social settings
Can Meditation Help In Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is caused due to negative and self-critical thoughts. If you can make peace with your thoughts and start approaching them without any judgement, you can improve your condition, which is what meditation tends to do. Therefore, meditation is considered a highly effective tool in combating social anxiety disorder.
Benefits of Meditation in Alleviating Social Anxiety
- Meditation, such as mindfulness meditation, can help you pay attention to your thoughts without judging them, eventually making you feel less wary about judgements in social settings.
- Meditation also helps overcome negative self-beliefs and promote the feeling of self-compassion, thereby slowly tearing down your walls of defensiveness around people. It helps you feel more confident and positive about social interactions.
- People with social anxiety often deal with mind-wandering situations, which also causes them to feel less content. Meditation is highly useful in reducing mind wandering and building confidence during social interactions.
- Meditation helps to reduce rumination in people suffering from a social anxiety disorder. It also helps to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression while promoting self-esteem.
- Meditation also helps to boost brain functions, improve memory and enhance learning, which helps in reducing anxiety and fear.
How to Start Meditation for Social Anxiety?
There are many meditation techniques that can help you deal with social anxiety. Some of them are mentioned below. Listening to music and chanting a Mantra while practising meditation has also been found effective in combating social anxiety disorders.
- Sitting Meditation:
It is an easy meditation technique for beginners. For this, you have to sit down in a peaceful and quiet place and close your eyes. Next, try to focus on your breaths. Remember that it is okay if your mind gets distracted. The goal is not to obstruct the flow of your thoughts but to let your thoughts pass without any judgement. If you are new to meditation, try to do it for 3-5 minutes and then gradually increase your pace.
- Body Scan Meditation:
This meditation technique is especially beneficial for people suffering from social anxiety as it helps to eliminate the feeling of judgement. For this, lie down in a comfortable and peaceful place. Next, wiggle your toes, let them tense and relax. Focus all your attention on your toes and then gradually move from toes to head and scan different body parts the same way.
- Deep Breathing Meditation:
Deep breathing is highly effective if done just before entering a social situation as it helps you feel grounded and lets you navigate social interaction in a better way. To practice deep breathing, find a comfortable and quiet place to sit or lie down. Next, place one hand on your belly and take a deep breath through your nostrils for a count of 1-2-3-4. Then, hold your breath and exhale for a count of 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Continue this exercise for 3 to 5 minutes and keep all your focus on the rise and fall of your belly.
Meditation is an effective way to deal with social anxiety disorder. It helps to relieve negative emotions and thoughts while making you feel grounded. It also helps you feel better and less anxious during social interactions.