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Objective: Learning and Applying Practical Advice to Acing Interviews with Anxiety

The objective of this article is to help those that are anxious by giving practical advice and concrete examples that you can apply today! To help you get the job you rightfully deserve.


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People with social anxiety may avoid social situations due to the intense fear of being judged. Even though social anxiety disorder can cause you to avoid social situations altogether, you most likely experience anxiety while in solitude as well. In order to start every day off strong, here are 3 activities you can do on a daily basis to conquer social anxiety and improve on your symptoms over time. 

If you’re interested in daily habits and actions you can apply to your life to overcome anxiety, then you should check out Christian Goodman’s Over Throwing Anxiety program.

1.) Take Care Of Your Appearance

 “If you look good, you feel good, If you feel good, you play good, If you play good, they pay good.”

– Deion Sanders, Sports Analyst, Hall of Fame NFL Player

The way you look affects how you feel. Why is this such a common mantra? Similar quotes have been repeated by many prominent figures from several professions— “if you look good you feel good”. This ranges from fortune 500 CEOs, musicians, to lawyers and everything in between. Doesn’t it seem counter intuitive that the most powerful and successful people in the world pay close attention to their outward appearance? Even going to the extremes of dishing out thousands of fashion designers. Yes, some of it is because of marketing, but what about the high performers that do not necessarily need to ‘look the part’?

One of Psychology Today’s four strategies to conquering social anxiety is to place your focus and attention outwards “If we turn our attention outward, focus on what’s happening around us, magically a lot of that bandwidth gets freed up and fills up with natural curiosity — what interests us, what questions we want to ask — and our own authenticity.”

Having a presentable clean look, helps you focus less on what other people think of your appearance. Thus, it allows you to focus more on your conversation.

Taking care of your appearance doesn’t necessarily mean attempting to cover every facial flaw by baking your face with makeup. It also doesn’t mean purchasing flashy designer clothing, but simply making yourself presentable. This could mean wearing a clean pair of jeans, combing your hair in the morning and brushing your teeth after every meal. 

Taking care of your appearance is part of self-respect, in the same way cleaning your bedroom is. Self-esteem is heavily influenced by your actions and how a person perceives themselves. Treating yourself like you would a friend that you respect, makes it easier to view yourself in the same light, a positive one. 

2.) Meditation

“The only way to get what you really want is to let go of what you don’t want”

– Iyanla Vanzant

Meditation is the science of controlling your thoughts, and recognizing negative thinking patterns as they come. The intensity of your social anxiety ebbs and flows like the waves in the ocean. Sometimes you may even forget that you have social anxiety. However, when the intensity of your anxiety flares up, it’s easy to get lost in your thoughts, and not even realize you need to get grounded while you’re in the moment. Meditation can help you stabilize your mood, help you recognize when you are indeed panicking, and also regulate your emotions. There are alternative ways to meditate like fishing, or yoga.

A study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry in Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, did 8 weekly group classes, to find the effects of mindfulness meditation on generalized anxiety. They measured their stress reactivity using what they call a Trier Social Stress Tests(TSST). This test was done pre- and post treatment. A TSST consists of a 10 minute anticipation period before the test, then a 10 minute test period where a member delivers a speech, and then does mental-math(in your head) in front of an audience.  

The results showed that mindfulness meditation practices lead to a significant increase in resilience to stressful psychological challenges. Resilience is defined as the ability to spring back from and overcome difficulties. Meaning that meditation can help you recover from social ‘errors’ and mishaps that stem from your social anxiety.

How to meditate for social anxiety

  1. Find a quiet room that is safe and free of disturbances
  2. Sit down cross legged, lay down, or any other preferred meditation pose.
  3. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in a calm soothing place, (e.g. desert, mountains, forest etc.)
  4. Inhale through your nose, then exhale through your mouth
  5. Try to focus on your breathing
  6. When you have negative or positive thoughts, acknowledge them like clouds passing by in the sky, after that draw attention back to your breathing

When it comes to meditation there are a variety of techniques. For instance, people like to meditate and practice gratitude, others like to sit down and simply reflect on their day.

There is no specific way to meditate for social anxiety aside from practicing patience. Several studies show that changes in the brain resulting from meditation can take from 8-10 weeks. A small price to pay for mindfulness.

3.) Find A Creative Outlet

“Find three hobbies you love: One to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.”

– Anonymous

There are a myriad of reasons many people lack a creative outlet In the modern era — home to the 40-hour work weeks. It’s easy to neglect your creative outlet. You might have grown up in a household where pursuing a creative hobby was considered a waste of time, especially if it didn’t directly equate to money, like some sort of math formula. Many people grow up, not sharing their talents with the world because of this.

Having a creative outlet puts you on a journey that allows you to express yourself, and cope with traumas that could be contributing to your social anxiety. Creative outlets are important for four reasons.

1.) Decision Making

Being in creative control forces you to act on your opinions and ambitions in your creative process. Making your own decisions is a skill that requires practice. Creative outlets force you to make multiple decisions. Multiple decisions in quick succession will cause you to fail rapidly. Then you’ll realize failures aren’t that big of a deal, whether in art, at your job, during social situations etc. Embracing failures is simply a part of the creative process.

2.) Exposure Therapy

A cool thing about creative outlets is that they give you an opportunity to share something with the world and be vulnerable, a type of exposure therapy. Whether you’re sharing a blog post, or a video, you’ll learn how to connect to others and realize that people relate to you more than you think. As you progress having people critique your work is inevitable. This may feel daunting at first, until you realize that no matter how many people enjoy your art, there will always be people that dislike/disagree with it, and that’s okay.

3.) Chance To Meet New People

Whether your creative outlet is writing, photography, or  and everything in between, there are probably classes or workshops you can attend to meet new people that share your same interests. Many people with social anxiety find it easier to converse when social events are focused on a sole activity that they have an interest in.

4.) Further Your Career(bonus reason)

Viewing a hobby as hindering your career is completely wrong. A hobby and a side hustle are essentially the same thing. In this day and age, meeting the technical qualifications for a job just won’t cut it most of the time. Anytime a manager makes an online job posting they will receive dozens to hundreds of qualified applicants for the job. A hobby that is related to your job goes a long way. For instance, having a blog on stocks, while applying for a businesses analyst position demonstrates to a manager that you are truly interested in your field. Moreover, it simply makes you a more interesting person in general.

Further reading:

It’s like that nagging voice soothing you in the back of your head telling you that if things do get worse you can cut open your wrist and then everything will be okay, but that’s not the worst part. The worst part is you start believing that voice because it’s so comforting. It’s so alluring and it pulls you towards it, and like a small child you follow it.  

The everyday wars you’re fighting in your head seem like nothing compared to that voice vibrating in your mind telling you to let it all fade away.  

The voice echoing in your mind is your greatest friend as well as your greatest enemy. It’s your most aching wound, and your most alluring cure. The voice tampers with your thoughts and it turns you into something you never thought you would be.  

You start becoming that monster you despise and it embraces you and forcibly kisses you and dissolves into you.  

I know that voice very well. It’s caged somewhere in the back of my mind and I’m afraid it will rip through all those barriers and it will take a hold of me. I’m scared because I think I’ll submit to it, because I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of tying it down. Tired of holding back that ocean that so badly wants to drown me. I feel powerless.  

“No. Please no.” I beg that voice calling out to me, telling me that the world is too hard to face. Might as well let it all go. 

That voice in all honesty gets me through the toughest times. What can be worse than death right? Nothing!  

It’s a bad thought but it helps me cope with the panic attacks and the anxiety and the depression. No one understands me except that voice in the back of my head, comforting me, telling me that it’ll all get better.  

You’ll embarrass yourself. It’s okay. Just slit your wrist and it’ll all end.  

You’re failing at life. It’s okay. Swallow those pills.  

Everything is falling apart, don’t worry jump off that bridge.  

No one loves you, but it’s okay to pull that trigger.  

But would dying hurt just as bad as that moment. Would ending everything solve every problem there is. Temporarily yes. And sometimes all it takes is a moment for that switch to flip.  

If you’re in that moment. Take a deep breath. Inhale and then exhale. Think. Talk to someone. Tell them you’re not okay. Talk to me. (ahsia_rinum@hotmail.com) Talk to anyone. Go to the hospital. Do whatever you can to save yourself. It’s okay to feel down. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to ask for help. Please don’t let that voice get to you. Let that positive voice in you roar as loud as a lion, even if it makes everyone deaf. Scream if you have to… but never bow down to your demons. You did not fight a million sperms and push through a hole to throw it all away.  

You can find her book ——->here

Author: A. Rinum

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“In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

– Tom Bodett 

Don’t Punish Yourself for Failure

Social failures resulting from leaving your social comfort zone can feel overwhelming. You approach a potential romantic interest, and then he/she abruptly declines you. Raise your hand to answer a question during a work meeting or in class – you give the wrong answer in front of everybody, “ouch!”. 

Then, you go home and demean yourself with thoughtless statements: “I’m so stupid”, “Why did I say that”, “Nobody likes me”, “I give up on trying”. Negative self-talk phrases sound oh so very real in your head, but when you type them out they seem pretty silly.

Here’s an surprisingly realistic example of negative self-talk from an adult cartoon below. Pretty ironic, I know.

Negative self-talk example

*Warning: This video is potentially triggering and contains strong language. Viewer discretion is advised*

Bojack Horseman: Negative Self-Talk Example

The problem is that many people are never taught what self-improvement actually looks like. Growing up most of us are praised for results, yet never commended for the actions that lead us there in the first place. We praise a women for how clear and soft her skin is, but not the facial care routine and dedication. Men are praised for their muscular physique, instead of all the hours they dedicated to hitting the gym.

Have you ever watched a motivational video with a “magical key”, or “life-hack” to apply to your life that will make every social situation improve? And everytime something doesn’t work out it’s somehow your fault? Many people are falsely taught that when learning how to do something, we should always see a steady improvement. Instead, most improvements are earned, through failures and setbacks. Meaning we need to take one step back, before taking two steps forward.

Dealing with Expectations

These unrealistic expectations of ourselves are reinforced in classroom/work settings. Thus, when we are taught something, we are expected to execute it perfectly — Not fair to you nor productive, and can lead to self-doubt in the workplace. In a work/classroom setting failure often means a poor result, and once you fail there is no second chance. 

Stop treating your life with a classroom/work mindset. In the real-world you aren’t given the study sheet, and lessons before the test. You’re given the test first and then are expected to learn from the failures. In the real world a failure is a gift, giving you a chance to learn how to deal with situations that you will most likely experience again.

Getting out of your comfort zone and then sulking at your failures is counterproductive. Failure is common for everybody pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone. Matter of fact, striving to improve your social skills means wanting to fail, which is an uncomfortable process. Do you know what feels comfortable? Staying at home watching movies, smoking weed all day, and never leaving your house. Nonetheless, whether consciously or subconsciously, we all know short-term comforts are trade-offs for long-term discomfort and regrets. 

Not too long from now, you will reminisce about all the trials and tribulations you went through with awe. Everybody wants battle scars but nobody wants to go to war.

Also, social anxiety is difficult to overcome — partly due to your results being inconsistent with how you act, simply because people are inconsistent. The way people treat others is often a reflection of their character and how they are currently feeling. This includes you too.

When you greet somebody it is ultimately up to them to accept your greeting. Making a “funny” joke requires other people to find the humour in it, or else the joke was technically not that “funny”. What we forget is that people react to us based off of prejudices, current moods and states of affairs, and a whole bunch of other things you can never control. For instance if something terrible just happened to you like getting fired from your job, even Dave Chapelle(funniest comedian of all time) would have a hard time making you laugh.

Learn to appreciate the effort, and not the end result. Try viewing your social interactions like a checklist(e.g. yes or no), and not a rating(e.g. scale from 1/10) chart. Also, look at your relationship with social anxiety/skills like a successful stock, they might ebb and flow on a daily basis, but were looking for a positive increase from year to year. Thank you for reading, and striving to improve your quality of life.

Social Anxiety

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting

Joyce Meyer

Never Be Impatient – Getting Over Social Anxiety Takes Time

Don’t rush the process. Overcoming social anxiety is no small feat. It’s very tempting to believe that there is one answer to your social anxiety, a simple solution that can make your anxiety disappear forever. However, the journey to overcoming social anxiety can have you looking for that one book, quote, or video that will completely erase your social anxiety. Fortunately, all of these things come together as a collective to help you get out of your comfort zone, but there isn’t one single answer. If you’re reading this article about social anxiety, it proves that you’re willing to learn – which is a good sign.

When it comes to mental health, improvements are not always noticeable right away. Social anxiety is like learning anything; you will not see a huge improvement every day. Most people on their journey to self-improvement tend to realize that success comes in bursts. It’s difficult to notice an improvement every day, but over time you will realize that your anxiety has improved vastly. In the future, you’ll have a tough time remembering exactly when you made those sudden bursts of improvement towards overcoming your social anxiety. Social anxiety usually begins in our teenage years but can improve in the future with effort and treatment.

Palmar Hyperhydrosis sweaty palms

Having sweaty palms can be embarrassing, especially when you need to shake somebody’s hand. Sometimes you can get away with a simple fist bump, but in a formal setting like a job interview, that’s probably not appropriate. When you are nervous, and your palms become sweaty you may wonder why your hands produce so much sweat in the first place.

Sweating is your body’s natural way of cooling itself off. This is important when your body temperature is rising. Your body usually produces more sweat when it’s warm outside, or when you’re simply working out. Palms sweating excessively when they don’t physiologically(physically) need to, is a sign of a condition called palmar hyperhidrosis. Palmar hyperhidrosis is said to affect up to 3% of the population, and have a significant impact on everyday life. According to the hyperhidrosis society, about a third of people with social anxiety disorder will experience hyperhidrosis. Furthermore, secondary hyperhidrosis is the result of a medical condition(e.g. anxiety, obesity) or medication that leads to excessive sweating.

Why do Palms get Sweaty?

view of two persons hands

Having social anxiety makes it difficult to deal with social interactions.A surprising amount of social interactions require a shake of the hand, whether it be a greeting or farewell, introductions to a friend, or award ceremonies  etc. The exact causes of palmar hyperhidrosis isn’t exactly known, but the causes can be identified as a mixture of hereditary, nervous system and anxiety related factors.

Sweat Glands and the ‘Nervous’ System

Your sweating is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, which helps control the way your body reacts to emotional stress. When you experience anxiety or stress your sympathetic nervous system responds by activating the body’s sweat glands. Furthermore, anxiety and stress aggravate palmar hyperhidrosis, which causes ‘nervous sweating’.

There are two types of sweat glands(apocrine, eccrine). Apocrine sweat glands are more commonly associated with hair follicles, a small factor when it comes to sweaty palms. The Eccrine glands are the ones responsible for your sweaty palms. These are major sweat glands found all over your skin. Eccrine glands are the most dense in your palms, and the soles of your feet. 

Genetics

Hyperhidrosis has a genetic component to it. Also, people that develop hyperhidrosis in their childhood years, are more likely to have inherited the condition. A study done by UCLA demonstrates the likeliness of hyperhidrosis being hereditary. Out of the 49 people sample size that suffered from hyperhidrosis, 32(65%) of them were reported to have somebody in their family history with this condition. The results also showed that 5% of the population is at risk for developing hyperhidrosis if they have a specific genetic variation (allele). People with this genetic variation have a 25% chance of developing hyperhidrosis. However, the ordinary person only has a 1% chance of developing the condition.

Which Comes First, Anxiety or Sweaty Palms?

This is a which comes first, the chicken or the egg type situation. The disease is a physiological one, meaning that it isn’t necessarily all in your head. There are many causes for hyperhidrosis like diabetes and low blood sugar. Secondary hyperhidrosis occurs when hyperhidrosis is caused by medication or an underlying mental health symptom. 

Social anxiety is a mental health condition that aggravates these symptoms. This means that getting to the root of your social anxiety, can help quell your sweaty palms. Also, treating hyperhidrosis in itself can actually reduce symptoms of social anxiety and social withdrawal as well. Some people  may realize that their palms sweat much less when you’re in a socially safe environment, while others are constantly sweating puddles. On the other hand, many people isolate themselves because of their hyperhidrosis.

Hyperhidrosis Affects Your Life

I sympathize with people suffering from an anxiety disorder, because many physical symptoms of anxiety such as clammy hands and stuttering can make social interactions much more difficult for anybody.

Aside from social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder can be developed as a symptom to the disorder. The excessive sweating can make it harder to concentrate at work and school. You may also have trouble simply relaxing with friends and family members. The physical and emotional discomfort can also affect your sleep schedule, by keeping you up at night as well.

Treatments for Palmar Hyperhidrosis

Cream, Lotion, Hands, Sunscreen, Spa, Skin, Wellness

With the lack of research into palmar hyperhidrosis, the most common solutions are home remedies, Antiperspirants, or medical procedures.

Topical Antiperspirants — Sweaty Palm Hand Lotion

If you’re looking for more of a quick practical solution, topical antiperspirants are your friendAntiperspirants can reduce your sweating by using aluminum based ingredients. These gels are able to plug the sweat glands that are able to seep through your skin. You can get some prescribed, but surprisingly many over the counter drug stores only offer antiperspirants for sweaty armpits, and not sweaty palms. To purchase Carpe antiperspirant hand lotion, that will keep the sweat off your palms click here.

Botox Injections

You’ve probably heard of botox before. Doctors like to use it in very small doses to remove wrinkles, and improve people’s physical appearance, especially the face.

Botox can be injected into your hands to reduce sweating. Botox blocks the nerves signals that are in charge of activating your sweat glands. It only stops sweating in the injected area. For instance, if you inject botox into your hands, you can still experience excessive sweating in the feet. This procedure can greatly reduce sweating. The effects last about half a year, yet the injections can be painful. Some medical professionals opt for botox sprays instead.

Meditation yoga stress and anxiety

“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.”

Amit Ray

Yoga is a spiritual, mental and physical discipline. This practice is said to originate from ancient India but is now one of the popular treatment options for anxiety and stress reduction. With an increase in anxiety awareness, it is no surprise that many people are turning towards Yoga to help get their minds right. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, more than 24 million adults in the united states, practiced yoga in 2013, which is about a 40% increase from 17.8 million in 2008.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a wide-ranging discipline that challenges both body and mind. Yoga reduces anxiety and stress by using a variety of relaxation techniques: visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga poses and breathing techniques. 

If you think Yoga is a walk in the park that can be picked up by nearly everybody, then you’re right. Many yoga poses can even be done on a chair.

Nevertheless, there are varying levels of yoga. Associating the word yoga with “easy” is most definitely inaccurate. There are intense yoga positions that require flexibility and muscle strength. There is no shortage of difficult feats in this discipline.

Many people use yoga as their main form of exercise, and take it to the extreme. For instance “hot yoga”, usually done in hot yoga rooms that tend to be humid, temperatures ranging from 80°F-100°F (26.6°C -37°C)

Benefits of Yoga on Anxiety

Anxiety is a mental illness with physical symptoms. Asanas(yoga poses) are used to help reduce the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, especially when facing a panic attack. Yoga can help ease the physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • Heart rate
  • Tightness in chest
  • Muscles stiffness
  • Poor posture

Posture and “Straightening” out Your Anxiety

A long-term physical symptom of anxiety is a poor posture. This includes head tilted downwards, which is bad for your spine. The average adult head weighs 10-12 pounds, which may not seem like a great deal, but the effects add up considering how much time is spent looking at our phones and computers. If you have an office job and are looking to improve their posture, check out this article on workplace-ergonomics. The increasing popularity of cell phone use has also been a contributing issue to head alignment and spine health.

Another symptom is raised shoulders, stiff back muscles, and a pelvis that tilts forward. Your feet, pelvis, and head should all be vertically aligned when you are standing. A cool way to check your posture is to stand with your back against the wall. If you have a healthy posture, your feet, back and back of your head should all be making contact with the wall behind you. A healthy spine looks s-shaped when being viewed from the side; However, anxiety-related posture can push the posture of your spine into a C-shape.

Asanas are used to develop a solid posture by including three consistent principles: shoulder blades pulled back, stable core, and keeping your head-up(straight). People practicing yoga can also benefit from the strengthened core muscles; making a healthy posture feel more natural on a daily basis.

How Does Good Posture Help Anxiety?

Posture helps anxiety by influencing the way you self by helping to boost confidence, which then helps to validate positive thoughts you have about yourself. A benefit of yoga that was studied by Richard Pettey, a social psychology professor from Ohio State University.

During this study, participants were tasked with writing down their best and worst qualities. One group was tasked with writing down their qualities while sitting down with a confident posture(straight back, chest out), while the other group wrote down their qualities with a doubtful posture(hunch back, forward slouch)

Poor posture did not have an influence on the number of positive qualities that participants listed about themselves. Although, the group that wrote down their qualities with a confident posture reported more confidence in the positive thoughts they had of themselves.

Yoga Helps Stress

if you have difficulty managing your stress levels, taking a yoga class is something you can incorporate in your daily routine. Yoga has many aspects that help reduce stress. One of these components is your breathing technique

Breathe control is extremely helpful for those struggling with stress and anxiety, considering that one of the common symptoms of anxiety is shallow breathing. Next time you’re in a stressful situation, you may notice that your breathing pattern is rapid and shallow. This isn’t a coincidence. 

Taking a deep breath lowers stress in the brain and body. Breathing deeply sends a message to the brain to relax. Also, deep breaths remove the negative effects of rapid and shallow breathing: high heart rate, increased blood pressure, muscle tension. The breathing techniques associated with yoga can help reduce your overall stress.

Have you considered taking a Yoga Class? 

With an increase in popularity, yoga has taken over the western world by storm, coming a long way from ancient India. You can most likely find a yoga class at a nearby gym, recreational center or community center. Some people even host free yoga classes at public parks, depending on where you’re located.

The Department of Psychology at Lund University did a study specifically on the effectiveness that gym yoga had on stress and psychological health. The study determined the effects using an 8-week and 16-week consecutive yoga course. Stress levels of participants were measured at a baseline level before they participated in yoga classes

The first group completed a 16-week yoga course, reporting significant decreases in stress levels. The second group didn’t participate in a gym yoga class for the first 8-weeks and then crossed over for the next 8-weeks. The second group still reported a significant decrease in stress levels, showing that yoga has the potential to significantly reduce stress levels in under two months.

5 Yoga Poses

Downward dog yoga pose

Here is some beginner yoga poses to get started.

If you want to practice yoga from the comfort of your own home, there are plenty of experts willing to walk you through an online yoga session.

Yoga for Anxiety and Stress Walkthrough

Further Readings:

“Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions—not outside.”

—Marcus Aurelius.

Social anxiety disorder or severe shyness can be overcome with exposure therapy. This means placing yourself in performance and social situations. People with social anxiety, will fear/ dread these situations and/or completely avoid them. Avoidance isn’t an effective strategy in reducing anxiety in the long-term.

Exposure training is usually done with the helping hand of a therapist using a cognitive behavioural therapy program. Having said that, you can still include exposure training into your daily routine.

Speak to a Therapist Today

You don’t have to go through hard times alone. 
We have reviewed 10 online therapy platforms and
Online-Therapy.com is our top choice.

It is possible to accomplish all of these challenges, but even a single completion is a large step towards conquering your social anxiety. 

1.) Perform a Stand-up Comedy Routine at an Open Mic

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Seinfeld

An open mic could be described as a talent show for adults. They are usually held in small venues such as a bar or comedy club on a monthly-weekly basis. 

Some open mics are strictly for singing, music or just, comedy. Other open mics are like talent shows, in the sense that you can perform whatever skillset you choose.

Signing up for an open mic can be extremely easy for those living in an urban area. Some open mics allow you to sign up, and perform the day of, while certain venues request an email to request a time-slot in advance. Open mics are great because it is a one-man show, which may seem daunting at first, but it makes all the highs from success that much more rewarding. 

Performing on stage for the first time may be one of the most thrilling experiences of your life. You may have realized that a large portion of comedians never retires from this artform after being successful. Delivering your own art, to bring laughter to people’s day feels extremely rewarding. To read the story about my first time doing an open click here.

Do you know what happens when you tell a joke and nobody laughs? Somebody pulls a fire alarm and everybody evacuates the building, whoever performs that joke. That’s what happens in your head of course — In the real world? absolutely, nothing.

If you’re socially anxious, there’s no better way to get out of your comfort zone than standing on stage in front of a bunch of people. This is probably one of the hardest ways to get out of your comfort zone. Fear of public speaking is common for an estimated 75% of the population.

Still interested in public speaking, but don’t want to go the comedy open mic route? This is a great article on using exposure therapy to get over your fear of public speaking

Where do I find an open mic? Check your local comedy club or bars in your area. You can also find them on google by searching, “open mics near me”.

Tips on going to an open-mic:

  • Go with a friend and have them sign up to do it
  • Watch an open mic at the venue you plan on performing at, just to get a feeling of things 
  • Memorize your routine, and rehearse it 5 times
  • Make eye contact with your audience, and don’t be afraid to smile

2.) Make a Post on Reddit

Reddit is a social media app that is similar to a forum. The forums are broken down into different niches called subreddits. If you can think about a topic there is likely a dedicated subreddit where tons of users share their ideas and comment on them.  

Writing down your thoughts and leaving them open to criticism is a great way to get out of your comfort zone. If you’re not exactly sure what to write about, try working your way up. First reply to somebody else’s comment, then write your own comment, then finally create your own post. This challenge is a fan-favourite because it can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Quick tips on making a reddit post:

3.) Apply to a Job Out of Your League

We often psych ourselves out of opportunities we are destined for, thus getting in our own way. The outward image a person thinks they exude usually doesn’t match the world’s perception of them. Everybody won’t be able to pick up on your personal flaws as well as you can —Truth is, we try our best to ignore the negative things. 

Applying to a job out of your league is awesome. A new career can help you step out of your comfort zone on a daily basis, and improve your financial well being. Keeping an optimistic mindset and giving yourself permission to reach your goals is part of developing a growth mindset.

Of course, the first step to getting a job is usually sending in your resume application. Getting a job is all about getting your foot in the door. Improve your chances of getting hired by reading my article 7 Deadly Sins of Resume Writing

After some tweaking to your resume, you should expect a call-back. Depending on the jobs you apply to, if your resume is decent, start expecting calls within 1-2 months if nor sooner. Until then, please allow myself to congratulate you on the job opportunity in advance. 

Once you get a call/email inviting you to the interview, that is where the challenge gets more exciting. Interviews are nerve wracking, but each interview helps you prepare for the next one, especially when you’re applying to jobs within the same field. As you go to more interviews, you realize that many interviewers ask a similar set of questions. Prepare for the interview by reading my article called 8 Steps to Acing an Interview with Anxiety.

Fortunately for those of us with social anxiety, we’re way past the days of walking into an establishment, and refusing to leave until you can speak to a manager.

Where to find jobs online:

Have a Friendly Get-together

Having a get-together is usually when more than 2-3 people come together for leisure activities. I’m not trying to motivate you to throw your own Project X level party, just a few friends. Heck, it only takes two people to tango. If having only one or two close friends is your bread and butter, then good for you.

Contrarily speaking, if anxiety gets in the way of friendship,checkout this article called “When Anxiety Gets in the Way of Friendship”, written by Irine S Levine, she’s also known as the friendship doctor.

When it comes to hosting a get together, the activity doesn’t really matter. You typically just need an excuse to hang out with other people.

Here are Some Activities for a get-together

  • Study session
  • Watch a movie
  • Play video games
  • Have a coffee
  • Potluck
  • Card games

Practice Saying No

“I’m not a yes, I’m a no man ”. – Moneybagg Yo

“Really Successful People Say No To Almost Everything” – Warren Buffett

No, it is one of the shortest words, yet the hardest to say, sorry Elton John (context). We often say yes, when we actually mean no, way more than the vice-versa. The author Herbert Fensterheim, the author of the book, “Don’t say Yes When you Want to Say No(amazon)” has an interesting take on this.

According to Herbert Fensterheim, an American behavioural psychologist, the reason stems from personal upbringing.

 “Parents, teachers, clergymen, and businessmen unwittingly conspired to produce a nation of timid souls. In early years, many mothers and fathers censor the child who decides to speak up for his rights and thus, hinder the child’s assertion of self. […] Teachers reward the student who does not question the educational system and deal sternly with those who buck it.”

Many parents overstep their kids’ personal boundaries, sometimes all the way up to adulthood. Growing up with abusive parents can lead to this being a more common occurrence

Some examples of rights and boundaries that may be over stepped include:

  • Being spoken to in a respectable tone(no yelling)
  • Respect for personal privacy: knocking before coming into a room, not reading through a diary
  • Refuse physical touch (e.g. hugs and kisses)
  • Have an active role in major life-decisions
  • A right to express one’s personal feelings without negative judgement

Remember, when saying yes to a request, make sure you’re not self-consciously saying no to your personal wants. People that struggle with assertiveness can benefit from CBT based assertive training, or assertive training workbook

Furthermore, If you’re going for a book, I recommend Herbert Fensterheim because he backs his information up with peer-reviewed sources, yet still has a unique personal component. Also, he has interactive worksheets to help you work past your own individual set-backs, giving you the best of both worlds.

How do I say No?

Watch your wording:

The key to saying no is wording. When rejecting a proposal or invitation respond with “I don’t…” instead of saying “I can’t…”. There have been several tests on this phenomenon. Study from Boston College discovered that test subjects that said “I don’t skip exercise” versus “I can’t skip exercise” would actually hit the gym more often.

The word can’t imply an underlying desire to do something. For instance, saying “I can’t eat junk-food on weekdays” implies that if circumstances changed, then you would. However saying “I don’t eat junk-food on weekdays removes room for debate. It’s a short and simple rule that you can apply to these situations.

Stay firm

Dealing with people who don’t respect the answer “no” makes this difficult. Sometimes they keep pestering you, no matter how many times you deny them. No matter how much they persist, it helps to stay firm. The more firm you are now, the less they will persist in the future. 

Albeit an uncomfortable situation, the best way to shut-it is repeating the same answer to decline their invitation/proposal.

Other Tasks to Help get out of your Comfort Zone

  • Take a group class(e.g. Dance, fitness, cooking etc.)
  • Tell a close friend or family member how you feel about them
  • Eat lunch by yourself in public
  • Compliment a stranger
  • Call a friend over the phone
  • Text a friend you haven’t heard from in a while

Final Words:

Remember, these challenges are not based on performance. Completing a task in itself is a success, you’ll only work through your symptoms with time and perseverance. If you back out of a task today, then try again tomorrow, it’s never too late to make an effort to improve yourself. 

Share this challenge to anybody you know that needs to get out of their comfort zone!

Further Readings:

The Truth Behind Social Anxiety Disorder

Virtually everybody has experienced some symptoms of a social anxiety disorder (SAD) before. It is normal to feel nervous before a job interview — Or embarrassed because you made an offensive joke at your work party, causing everyone to glare at you judgingly — even though the joke sounded way funnier in your head. This article is for people that suspect themselves or a friend of having SAD or are just interested in learning more about social anxiety in general.

What are the Causes?

Abusive childhood

Your risk of developing social anxiety disorder (SAD) is strongly influenced by genetic and environmental factors.Living circumstances and other health conditions can affect your individual chances of having social anxiety. SAD often results from several different factors. 

Alike to other anxiety disorders, social anxiety stems from poor experiences — in this case with people. For instance, many people experience OCD related symptoms towards cleanliness, after getting a contamination related infection. On the other hand, social anxiety could stem from growing up with an overly critical parent.

Genetics and Family History

Genetics plays a large role in developing SAD. The serotonin transporter gene “SLC6A4”  is strongly correlated with SAD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This is interesting because the comorbidity rates between OCD and SAD have been reported at 11%.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which sends signals to your brain that help regulate your mood. Issues with neurotransmitter releases can contribute to anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.

An AI institute of Human Genetics affiliated study used a single-marker analysis to genotyped 321 patients with SAD, and 804 controls without any type of social phobia. Then they genotyped both workers using single-marker analyses quantitative association analyses. 

Study results provided evidence for  “SLC6A4” being correlated with social anxiety. There appears to be a polymorphism (genetic mutation) that occurs in SLC6A4 which is correlated to social anxiety. 

There was another study done by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), to determine the relation between genetics and SAD. They sampled approximately 3000 Norwegian twins, in their 20s, and then again in their thirties.

When the twins were examined in their 20s, four percent were diagnosed with SAD and nine percent had SAD related symptoms but weren’t diagnosable. Ten years later five percent of the same group had SAD, and about nine percent had related symptoms. 

Surprisingly, about two-thirds(66%) of people that had social anxiety in their twenties, no longer met the diagnostic criteria when they were interviewed in their thirties. People with SAD should be relieved at this information since the disorder has been proven to be so unstable —Not last as long.

The researchers claim that genetics doesn’t exactly cause SAD. Instead, genetics leads to personality traits that put you at high risk for the disorder such as, introversion and low emotional stability.

Fortunately, NIPH claims that the environment causes a short-term impact on social anxiety. Meaning that the effects of being bullied, or losing a job may last for a limited duration. 

Because some could argue that negative events could lead to an indefinite spiral in the wrong direction, this is a controversial claim. For instance, being verbally abused could lead to negative-self talk that can follow you indefinitely, without the help of a medical professional

While on the other hand, NIPH claims that genetic factors can determine the risks of having social anxiety in the long-term. Novik (NIPH) says “Although the genetic risk is long-lasting, it does not mean that you have to live with the symptoms. There are good treatments for SAD. The treatment involves exposure to feared situations and acknowledging your anxiety.”.

Child-hood Upbringing

Abusive parenting is one of the root causes of developing SAD. It is much more likely for you to thrive in social situations, when being raised in a safe and supportive environment.

If you grew up in a verbally abusive household or raised by narcissists, then you are at a greater risk of having SAD. Many old-school parenting techniques follow the old trope “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words shall never hurt you”, but verbal abuse can lead to life-long invisible scars. 

Verbal Abuse

Victim of verbal abuse can find themselves feeling confused and lonely because the severity of verbal assaults is often downplayed. You experienced verbal abuse if you’ve been criticized or insulted in a hostile manner.

Verbal abuse in children leads to adults that are overly self-critical of themselves according to Florida State University study. This is because the negative self-thoughts are taught to the child by the abuser (e.g. you are stupid). People who were verbally abused experience 1.6 times as many anxiety and depression symptoms. 

Examples of verbal abuse include:

  • Yelling
  • Constant criticism
  • Silent-treatment or stonewalling
  • Swearing
  • Insults
  • Threatening, even if they don’t follow through
  • Being Manipulative

Emotional Neglect and Abuse

A history of emotional abuse or neglect are what links many people to SAD. Journal of Anxiety Disorders report over 50% of people with SAD experienced emotional abuse in their childhoods. 39% of those with SAD experienced a childhood of emotional neglect.

They also report that someone with a history of childhood emotional abuse had a stronger relation is more likely to be diagnosed with SAD, compared to physical or sexual abuse.

Emotional neglect

Many people see parenting as a figurative field of landmines that are filled with things you should refrain from, in order to avoid being an abusive parent. Emotional neglect occurs when a parent fails to tend to, act upon, or notice your feelings as a child.

Examples of emotional neglect include:

  • Not feeling listened to
  • Parents fail to notice when you’re sad, angry, anxious
  • Not giving enough attention
  • Lack of questions about your wants, needs or preferences
Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is a tool used to chip away at your self-esteem. The abuse is harsh and overly critical.
Examples of emotional abuse include:

  • Playing down accomplishments
  • Making fun of your appearance
  • Constantly monitoring your whereabouts, also known as “helicopter parenting
  • Making important decisions for you
  • Treating you like a child
  • Denying abuse, also known as gaslighting.

How Does Social Anxiety Affect your Life?

Sadly staring out window

The thoughts and feelings that come with SAD affect many people’s ability to live a functional life. You may isolate yourself, due to an intense fear of social situations, or activities involving social interactions. Watching other people navigate social situations with ease might leave you in awe. Especially when your anxiety causes you to hold back on telling a joke, or give a personal opinion due to fear of embarrassment. 

How social anxiety disorder can affect your life:

  • Low self-worth
  • Negative thoughts
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism
  • Poor social skills
  • Fatigue

Everybody has experienced being anxious in social situations before. You might be nervous when being introduced to your significant other parents, or when your boss introduces you to a prized client. Most people don’t avoid situations like these but usually move past them.

Anxiety becomes an issue when it is irrational, also when you avoid situations that are important to you (interviews, school, health checkups, etc.). Thus, it prevents you from living a happy and fulfilling lifestyle.

Having SAD can make the stress and fear of these situations overwhelming. You may avoid social contact completely because you struggle with daily life things that most “normal” people can do, making eye contact and small-talk. This could not only affect your social life but physical health, romantic relationships, career goals, etc.

When Does it Start?

SAD develops at a relatively young age, usually around the age of 13. SAD is linked to abuse, bullying, and teasing, which is more common during the formative years. Children that are shy, or have overbearing parents, are more likely to develop SAD into adulthood.

Situations that may trigger your social anxiety:

  • Public speaking
  • Eye contact
  • Entering a room when everyone is seated
  • Entering a room full of strangers
  • Dating
  • Eating in front of others
  • School or workplace
  • Parties or concerts
  • Public Restrooms

Not being triggered by some of these situations is still normal if you have social anxiety. For instance, many people with SAD are excellent public speakers but are terrified of parties. Others are triggered by a crowded classroom but thrive in one-on-one conversations. 

For instance, many stand-up comedians are socially anxious and are awkward off stage. Award-winning comedian Bill Burr confidently performs in front of thousands of people but admitted that when he would go to parties with his wife, he’d often find himself sitting in a corner: not talking to anybody.

People with social anxiety share different reasons for dreading certain situations. 

Generally speaking, SAD is an overwhelming fear of:

  • Being negatively judged  
  • Having all eyes on them
  • Fear of public embarrassment or humiliation — And it being obvious by sweating, shaking, stuttering, blushing
  • Offending someone by accident
  • Being the focus of attention

How Does it Feel?

Having SAD is a different experience based on the individual

Here are some physical signs and symptoms of SAD:

  • Stomach aches
  • Trouble controlling worry
  • The overwhelming need to escape
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dissociation(outer-body-experience)
  • Rapid heart-rate
  • Sweaty Palms

Anxiety symptoms may flare up right before a social event, or in the days leading up to it. After the event passes, you may spend mental energy contemplating on how you acted. Many people contemplate about past-events right before going to bed, which negatively affects their sleep. You can check out this article on dealing with anxiety when trying to fall-asleep(here) 

Can it be Treated?

SAD is a highly treatable condition. Many people with SAD are able to completely overcome their fear and anxiety once they find a treatment plan that works for them. The treatment you receive is based on your ability to function in everyday life. The two common types of treatment include psychotherapy(talk therapy), medications, or both. 

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can improve the symptoms of most people who have SAD. Therapy helps you deal with negative thoughts of yourself, and work on needed skills to improve confidence in social situations.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) is known as the most effective type of psychotherapy for social anxiety. It can be done one-on-one or in group sessions. For exposure-based CBT, you face situations that may cause anxiety, and work up to being able to deal with situations that cause the most fear.

CBT sessions are now being offered online through online-therapy.com. Click here to find out more about using online-therapy.com.

Medications

There are several types of medications available for those suffering from social anxiety. Some of these medications are simply short-term solutions to anxiety and not one-stop cures.

Antidepressants: The first drug that is usually prescribed for social anxiety patients is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), also known as an antidepressant. Common SSRIs are Zoloft and Paxil.

Antidepressants are given in low doses. Intake is gradually increased, to lower the risk of side effects. It may take several weeks to months to notice the improvement of your social anxiety symptoms.

There are many different types of antidepressants, some work better, and have fewer side effects based on the user.

Anti-Anxiety Medications: Benzodiazepines are fast-acting drugs that may reduce anxiety symptoms. These drugs are easily habit-forming, leaving risk for addiction. They are usually prescribed as a short-term solution, common names for these medications are “Xanax” or “Valium.

Beta-blockers: These work by blocking the effects of adrenaline when you’re in an anxious situation: rapid heart rate, pounding heart, shaky voice, trembling. Therefore, beta-blockers are used infrequently to deal with specific situations, like before a public speech. Beta-blockers aren’t recommended for the general treatment of SAD.

Recommended articles:

Speak to a Therapist Today

You don’t have to go through hard times alone. 
We have reviewed 10 online therapy platforms and
Online-Therapy.com is our top choice. 

Figuring out you have anxiety is a rather complicated process. Mental illnesses are still taboo in even the most progressive countries. Anxiety disorders are rarely spoken about in a public setting. This results in many people with anxiety going undiagnosed until much later in life, or sometimes never getting a diagnosis at all. Unfortunately, It is common for people to struggle with their anxiety disorders on a daily basis, yet simply believe that is just the way things are supposed to be. 

Anxiety is a medical condition that is highly treatable through psychological counseling and therapy, this could include psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy), anxiety is also treated by other types of counselling. Seeking professional treatment is a large step towards dealing with feeling anxious in your daily life. Read on to learn more about the signs and symptoms of anxiety.

Workplace Absence

Woman writing at her work desk

When it feels like your heart is pumping faster than the pistons in a Lamborghini, while writing a typical daily report in your cubicle, you may have an anxiety issue. Employees may cope with anxiety in the work environment by just not showing up, or calling in sick.

The workplace is often full of things that can trigger anxiety: micro-managing, co-workers, stressfull environments, quotas and objectives, etc. Anxiety can also cause self-doubt in the workplace. Many types of anxiety conditions such as generalized anxiety (GAD) or social anxiety disorder (SAD) can lead to absence in the workplace.

National Institute of Health conducted a study on workplace phobic anxiety, that followed 739 workers from a retail company. Workers that perceived higher job demands and fewer resources to deal with these demands were more likely to suffer from workplace-related anxiety. Furthermore, people suffering from workplace phobic anxiety had more absences.

Trouble Sleeping at night 

Anxiety is strongly related to sleep problems like chronic insomnia. According to Harvard Health Publishing, more than 50% of adults with a generalized anxiety disorder will have some sort of sleep problem. 

Sleep problems are also common in those that suffer from:

  • PTSD
  • CPTSD
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

On the other hand, sleep problems are one of the risk factors for developing anxiety. However, anxiety usually precedes sleep problems. For instance, sleep problems lead to anxiety disorders 27% of the time. Thus, you are more likely to have sleep problems as a result of anxiety and not the other way around. Here are some life-changing tips on falling asleep when you have anxiety.

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety manifests itself in many forms. What does anxiety feel like? Jodi Picoult says “Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.”. Here are some physical symptoms of anxiety that you may have not even known existed.

Avoiding Social situations

Women walking by herself with party baloons

Avoiding social situations? This is a key sign of social anxiety disorder (SAD). Some people may not even notice that they’re actively avoiding situations, and place the blame on being introverted. Another misconception is that extroverted people are always outgoing and never socially anxious. 

The main difference between SAD versus introversion, is that introverts seek solitude because of an urge to be alone. SAD can cause you to avoid social situations out of fear of being embarrassed or negatively judged.


Situations that may trigger social anxiety:

  • Making eye contact
  • Introducing yourself to new people
  • Parties, dances and other social events
  • Job interviews
  • Entering rooms when people are already seated
  • Going to Work/School

Stiff Posture

The posture of your body is heavily influenced by several muscle groups: lower back, core muscles, and hamstrings. Although, the postural system and can be affected by fear and anxiety. Fortunately, posture changes can also help reduce anxiety.

Symptoms of anxiety-related posture changes:

  • Slouched, or raised shoulders
  • Chin pointed downwards
  • C-shaped spine, instead of S-shaped
  • Minimal body movement, and expressions
  • Chest caved inwards

Decision Making

Søren Kierkegaard, author of The Concept of Anxiety describes anxiety as “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”. Constantly second-guessing yourself is a natural feeling of anxiety.

Your mind exerts less energy when it makes decisions on autopilot. An example of this is if you’ve ever driven yourself home from work, and then realize that you don’t remember the actual trip. Your brain is able to do many repetitive tasks on auto-pilot to conserve energy. This is partially why it’s difficult to add positive changes in your lifestyle until they become habits: read a book, study, practice a hobby, etc. 

Decision making is more mentally taxing with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can negatively affect your decision-making skills as well. It’s common for people with anxiety to feel as if that if they spent more time acting on their problems, instead of worrying, they would be a lot more productive. Anxiety disorders can cause you to worry about insignificant details, missing the bigger picture. For instance, second-guessing decisions that are insignificant, like what color door to purchase for your bedroom or the exact font size for your essay.

Findings from The Journal of Neuroscience, claims that anxiety shuts down the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is important for mood regulation and flexible decision making. These findings were used by the University of Pittsburgh, to test a group of rats doing activities to get a reward. One group of rats was injected with anxiety-inducing medication, while the other rats were given a placebo.

The rats that were injected fell slightly behind in their decision-making skills. However, their decision-making skills were significantly worse, when their activities involved avoiding distractions. The conclusive result is that anxiety can lead to poorer decision making, but those symptoms are amplified in distracting environments.

Procrastination

Hands handcuffed to a keyboard.

Procrastination is the result of avoidant behavior. Albeit, many people assume procrastination is simply because of laziness. Lack of emotional regulation can make it difficult for you to tackle daunting tasks head-on. After completing a task that you procrastinated over, you may end up realizing that the task isn’t as unpleasant as you initially thought. You can read my guide on managing procrastination anxiety here.

Panic attack

Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks, that are unexpected. Most people who have heard of anxiety, have heard of the concept of a panic attack. Because most people are not aware of having a panic attack when it happens to them, this symptom makes the list.

People that experience panic attacks often say their symptoms resemble that of a heart attack. Many people that have experienced panic attacks seek medical treatment from a doctor, expecting to be treated for some sort of cardiovascular health condition. 

Different types of anxiety disorders can cause panic attacks. For instance obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may result in a panic attack when you feel like you’re being contaminated with germs and other harmful bacteria. A social anxiety disorder may trigger a panic attack 10 minutes before giving a best man speech at a wedding. Children with a separation anxiety disorder may be triggered when they are away from their parents for prolonged periods of time.

(Fictional) Here’s an example of what a panic attack may feel like:

What a panic attack feels like:

  • An impending sense of doom
  • Peaks for 10 minutes
  • Heart attack
  • Nausea
  • Irrational fears (e.g. dying, losing control of oneself )

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Speak to a Therapist Today

You don’t have to go through hard times alone. 
We have reviewed 10 online therapy platforms and
Online-Therapy.com is our top choice.

 

“Even if you stumble, you’re still moving forward”

Every person has a voice in their head telling them what to do/feel in any given situation. This is the same voice you’re using to read this post Positive self-talk(ST) and affirmations can be the next step towards overcoming feelings of anxiety. Adding positive affirmations to your daily routine can help you deal with negative thoughts and anxiety. Positive self-talk(ST) influences your actions and helps you set and achieve higher goals in your career and personal relationships. A positive ST routine is part of developing a growth mindset.

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