Overcoming Social Anxiety With Meditation
A guided meditation to help you cope with your social anxiety
So, you’ve tried everything you can think of for your social anxiety, right?
You’ve tried so many things to deal with it. You've tried to ignore your social anxiety, doing things to try to relax, and maybe even medication. While you may find these outlets do help take the edge off, they often only go so far.
You want to just be able to talk with people and be in social situations without your mind racing. You want to be able to connect with friends without the doom and gloom radio blaring so loudly in your head.
If any of these situations sound like you, meditation or mindfulness practices may be the key to overcoming your social anxiety and releasing yourself from the grip it has on your life. Let’s talk about what mindfulness is, and how implementing a few techniques can help you not only conquer your anxiety but improve your entire well-being.
What Does ‘Practicing Meditation’ Mean?
In the simplest sense, meditation is practicing mindfulness and being aware of the present moment. A meditation practice allows us to tune into a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and our surrounding environment through a gentle, self-compassionate lens.
Mindfulness and meditation is focused on acceptance of our own thoughts and feelings, without being harsh or critical of them. The goal of mindfulness techniques is to allow yourself to sit in the current moment with all your emotions and baggage and simply be present. No regret from the past, or worries about the future should be plaguing your mind.
Of course, it’s always responsible to plan for the future, but when we constantly find ourselves in a state of worrying about what lies ahead we can become overly anxious. Meditation aims to step outside these stressors and tune in to what you’re feeling right here, right now.
4 Benefits of Meditation For Social Anxiety:
There are many other techniques you can use to calm your anxiety, accept what you’re experiencing, and acknowledge your ability to be present in the current moment. Meditation has been proven to not only help anxiety but relieve symptoms of depression, chronic stress, and anger.
Mindfulness Increases Body Awareness:
Social anxiety is not a condition confined to the brain. Anxiety spreads like wildfire and affects everything from our heart rate, to our appetite, to our sleeping patterns.
In order to overcome these intense feelings of anxiety and feel better physically, we must acknowledge their presence.
Many people with social anxiety would rather run from these uncomfortable sensations rather than face them head on. This may lead to excessive alcohol or substance use, or simply ignoring them (in return, suffering day in and day out).
When we spend time practicing mindfulness, we force ourselves to feel those subtle changes in our bodies, allowing for greater self-awareness. Self-awareness enables us to regulate, and respond to feelings of social anxiety when they arise. In addition, being able to identify anxiety ahead of time by spotting early physical symptoms can help us interrupt anxiety before it manifests further.
Mindfulness Regulates Our Sympathetic Nervous System:
Our sympathetic nervous system, or SNS, is our body’s built-in alarm. The SNS is responsible for our unconscious fight or flight response to distressing situations.
If faced with a stressful situation, our sympathetic nervous systems will jump into action sending stress hormones to help us either run or fight back. Once the situation has passed, our parasympathetic system then works to counteract this heightened state and return us back to normal.
If this system is unregulated, we can experience chronic anxiety. A nervous system can become unregulated through trauma, childhood experiences, or consistently high levels of stress. When our SNS is damaged we may perceive threats and danger, when there really is none. In addition, our parasympathetic system isn’t able to return us back to a calm, tranquil state.
When mindfulness practices are used, we are retraining our SNS to only respond to r