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How To Help A Friend Or Loved One Beat Social Anxiety

Chances are you know someone suffering from social anxiety disorder. After all, one out of every ten people battle the illness. Social anxiety is the United States’ most commonly diagnosed phobia subtype and is a hell to live with. This article will give you and your’s proven methods on how to beat social anxiety from every angle.

But before we discuss our plan of attack, we must briefly define our enemy. Social anxiety disorder is a chronic condition where public interactions cause irrational fear. These fears can lead to isolation, avoidance, and substance abuse. SAD in any form is capable of shutting someone’s life down completely. The panic attacks, constant heart palpitations, headaches, and seemingly endless jitters from the disorder often feel like an undeserved prison sentence of the mind, body, and spirit.

No one should have to bear SAD’s burden alone. Here are ways you can help your friend or loved one beat social anxiety.

How To Beat Social Anxiety: Kind Words

How To Help A Friend Or Loved One Beat Social Anxiety

Social anxiety patients generally feel inadequate on some level and take great lengths to avoid rejection. For that reason, sharing uplifting words with your friend or loved one saddled with SAD can help boost their confidence.

Bear in mind, however, that these affirming statements should be genuine. Most suffering from social anxiety possess keen insight and easily dismiss insincerity. That stated, hearing your earnest compliments regarding their appearance, character, talents, or personality will challenge your loved one’s harsh inner dialogue.

At their core, all SAD sufferers crave acceptance and fear criticism more than their peers. Their sensitivity is generally their greatest strength and weakness; your well-chosen compliments are the lifeline they live for.

Be Present

How To Help A Friend Or Loved One Beat Social Anxiety

Existing alone with their toxic thoughts is the worst place imaginable for an SAD patient. Unfortunately, many social anxiety sufferers remain isolated because they cannot independently function while bearing the disorder’s full effects. This loneliness becomes a devastating catch-22.

At their lowest, your SAD friend or loved one needs your presence more than ever. This doesn’t mean you should take on every obligation for them. You should, for a time, at least, accompany them in public whenever possible.

Simply having a supporter nearby when conducting daily tasks can enliven the SAD sufferer.

During my harshest social anxiety battles, when driving became a feared task, my good friend who is now a counselor would sit in my passenger seat each day until I became comfortable driving alone again.

He and I practiced gradual exposure where I learned to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. We used the same method for my grocery shopping trips. Eventually, using these methods -along with medication- I regained independent functionality.

Though, just knowing that someone cared enough to help me through those times meant everything. You can be a similar beacon for your SAD friend or loved one.

Offer A Non-Judgemental Ear

How To Help A Friend Or Loved One Beat Social Anxiety

Again, judgment is the last thing people facing acute social anxiety want to deal with. SAD sufferers are already harsh enough on themselves. Rather, social anxiety patients desire supporters they can speak their minds around without fear of criticism.

So, be a patient listener when they open up. Validate your friend or loved one’s deepest fears, hopes, and doubts by earnestly listening. If you feel tempted to rebuke their sometimes bleak life assertions, don’t.

Just be present with them while trying to understand their SAD-fueled viewpoint. And when you do speak to them, offer those assuring words we’ve discussed.

Be Patient

How To Beat Social Anziety

It can be frustrating to sideline chunks of your life to help a friend or family member experiencing SAD. Months can pass, and all of your long-suffering devotion can seem almost pointless if the situation isn’t improving.

However, this is when you should least think of abandoning your friend or loved one. Realize that social anxiety often requires a long-term fix, not an overnight bandage. While some patients normalize in a few months, many others can take years before they reach a similar point.

The thing to bear in mind is that almost all SAD sufferers do regain function with the right support.

And while medication and therapy help ease social anxiety, the most powerful therapy for your afflicted friend or family member is you. As deeply social creatures experiencing dysfunction, they need your compassion, presence, understanding, and patience likely more than you can imagine.

Be there for them. That is how you beat social anxiety and help give a friend or loved one back their dignity.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help for a mental health condition, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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