There is a close connection between addiction and social anxiety. This type of social phobia means that the person feels uncomfortable in situations in which he or she needs to interact with others. The symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:
- low self-esteem
- difficultly making eye contact with others
- avoiding social situations
- fearing criticism from others
- substance abuse.
Individuals who struggle with social anxiety are at high risk of turning to alcohol or drugs because it can temporarily help them deal with social situations. The problem is that this comfort comes at too high a price. When people get sober then they no longer have this coping strategy, which means they can struggle and may even use this as a reason to relapse. In light of this, below are five effective tips for dealing with social anxiety in recovery.
1. Use the ABC Technique from Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive-behavioural therapy offers some powerful tools for dealing with social anxiety; one of the most effective is known as the ABC technique. This involves breaking down each situation into three components: activating event, beliefs, and consequences. Therefore, in the case of a social phobia, the activating event will be meeting other people. The beliefs are all the thoughts that arise as a result of this event, and how you interpret what is happening. The consequences refer to what happens as a result of your interpretation of the situation. By looking at the encounter this way, you can start to change your beliefs about the event, allowing yourself to overcome your social phobia.
2. Try Being More Mindful
Mindfulness is hugely popular at the moment and it is being touted as a cure for almost everything, but this technique is more than just a fad. In fact, people have probably been practicing it since humankind first developed self-awareness. Mindfulness just means experiencing your thoughts in a non-judgemental and unresisting way – this gives you the ability to be more objective about your thoughts so you no longer just need to be a slave to them. When feelings of discomfort arise in social situations, you can just observe what is happening and the feelings will then just disappear by themselves.
3. Use Breathing Techniques to Ease Your Anxiety
If you feel yourself getting anxious, it means that your body is entering the ‘fight and flight’ mode – a state of high alertness. When you are in this state, it can be hard to think rationally and you are acting more on habit and impulse. Focusing on your breathing allows you to escape the flight and fight mode so everything slows down again. It is important to practice this technique so you remember to do it at the time.
4. Speak to Your Doctor
If you are suffering from severe social anxiety, you probably need to speak to your doctor about it. There are many unqualified people happy to give you at advice, but it pays to listen to what the experts have to say. It may be that you need to start taking some type of anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants.
5. Don’t Just Accept Your Social Anxiety
The worst approach to anxiety is to start believing that ‘it is just the way I am’. The fact that you have been able to break free of addiction has always demonstrated to you how major change is possible. The exact same applies when it comes to your social anxiety. It takes time to overcome mental tendencies, but if you believe in the ability to change and are willing to take some action, you will start to overcome your social anxiety.