SOCIAL ANXIETY – Living With Fear

(Social Anxiety Artwork, 2020)

The Social Phobia

Social Anxiety is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. For people with social anxiety disorder, everyday social interactions cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness and embarrassment.

Social anxiety is much more than just the odd twitter of nerves or shyness. According to helpguide.org it involves “intense fear of certain social situations – especially situations that are unfamiliar or in which you feel you’ll be watched or evaluated by others.” (“Social Anxiety Disorder”, 2020)

In addition, lurking deep within social anxiety there is the fear of judgement, scrutiny and public embarrassment. You maybe apprehensive of people, with thoughts of “will they think badly of me?” or “do I even measure up in comparison to them?” However, deep down you know most of these fears of being judged are considerably disproportionate and irrational. Yet you still can’t help feeling anxious.

“No matter how painfully shy you may be and no matter how bad the butterflies, you can learn to be comfortable in social situations and reclaim your life”

(“Social Anxiety Disorder”, 2020)

For many, anxiety is a new feeling. The current world events are certainly a contributing factor. The Coronavirus has unpacked a cluster of emotions for so many people throughout the world. However, we need to take note that this is “a normal, natural response to unprecedented uncertainty, threat of illness, stress, and restricted life.” (Scott, 2020).

The ABC interviewed a woman on the Gold Coast who has two children and says shes ‘not normally a worrier, rather a “relaxed and confident mother”. But empty shelves and experiences at the supermarket have caused the 32-year-old to feel anxiety and fear.

This is very reassuring for the most part, knowing you are not the only one feeling this way!

The Principles of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is quite prevalent within society, and people struggle with these fears each and every day. However, the situations that trigger the symptoms of social anxiety disorder can be very different.

The following common social anxiety triggers may include:

  • Attending parties or other social gatherings
  • Making a phone call
  • Taking exams
  • Eating or drinking in public
  • Using public restrooms
  • Speaking up in a meeting at work
  • Public Speaking
  • Going on a date
  • Being teased or criticized
  • Being watched while completing a task
  • Being the center of attention
  • Meeting new people
  • Making small talk

Signs & Symptoms of Social Anxiety

It’s a relief to know that occasionally getting nervous in a social setting does not mean you have a social phobia or social anxiety disorder!

Many people become apprehensive or self-conscious momentarily, however it does not get in the way of their everyday life. On the other hand, social anxiety disorder does. The following video will take you through the three primary symptoms, emotional, physical and behavioral. (Scott, 2020).

How to Avoid Spiraling Negative Thoughts When in Isolation

Dr. Aarti Gupta, PsyD, Founder and Clinical Director at TherapyNest, A Center for Anxiety and Family Therapy in Palo Alto, California recommends the six steps to surviving in isolation.

  1. Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself”
  2. Stay close to your normal routine
  3. Avoid obsessing over endless Coronavirus coverage
  4. A chaotic home can lead to a chaotic mind
  5. Start a new quarantine ritual
  6. Use telehealth as an option to talk to a professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable

“Letting go of illusions of control and finding peace in the fact that you are doing your part to “flatten the curve” will certainly build mental strength to combat the stressful situation the whole globe is experiencing.”

(Gupta, 2020)

If you can take 10 minutes of your time, find out if you may possibly suffer from social anxiety – https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/tests/personality/social-anxiety-test

REFERENCE

  1. Social Anxiety Disorder. HelpGuide.org. (2020). Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder.htm.
  2. Emotional woman. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=emotional+symptoms+of+social+anxiety&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886&sxsrf=ALeKk03cDxLnrIxvtfEWJOUe8GTDaYrPug:1586341934815&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjdg5Gc0NjoAhW4zDgGHXFeDjMQ_AUoAXoECAwQAw&biw=675&bih=588#imgrc=idDcZVlD2qrXXM.
  3. Woman meditating. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=physical+social+anxiety&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiw9v7X0tjoAhVABrcAHXX4D-UQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=physical+social+anxiety&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQAzIGCAAQBxAeMgYIABAHEB4yBggAEAgQHjIECAAQGFCWqgJYlqoCYKSvAmgAcAB4AIABsgKIAbICkgEDMy0xmAEAoAEBqgELZ3dzLXdpei1pbWc&sclient=img&ei=xaqNXvD_DMCM3LUP9fC_qA4&bih=588&biw=675&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886#imgrc=c9lofMakX0-DTM.
  4. Behaviour. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=behavioral+social+anxiety&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiwhavr0tjoAhWrBrcAHdMZB6cQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=behavioral+social+anxiety&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQAzIICAAQBxAFEB46BggAEAcQHjoICAAQCBAHEB5QkdEWWN7iFmCq5xZoAHAAeACAAe4CiAG7EZIBBzAuMi43LjGYAQCgAQGqAQtnd3Mtd2l6LWltZw&sclient=img&ei=7aqNXvDaL6uN3LUP07OcuAo&bih=588&biw=675&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886#imgrc=qRCMDiNIPOQ7sM.
  5. Social Anxiety Artwork. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=social+anxiety+art&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjnuqae1NjoAhVMBLcAHeCCCv0Q2-cCegQIABAA&oq=social+anxiety&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQARgEMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDOgQIIxAnOgIIAFCzhhJY75kSYJ29EmgAcAB4AYAB2ASIAfQkkgEJMi03LjMuMi4ymAEAoAEBqgELZ3dzLXdpei1pbWc&sclient=img&ei=ZayNXqf0BcyI3LUP4IWq6A8&bih=588&biw=675&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886#imgrc=nviZKv5EBnH-5M.
  6. Social Anxiety. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=social+anxiety+art&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjnuqae1NjoAhVMBLcAHeCCCv0Q2-cCegQIABAA&oq=social+anxiety&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQARgEMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDMgQIABBDOgQIIxAnOgIIAFCzhhJY75kSYJ29EmgAcAB4AYAB2ASIAfQkkgEJMi03LjMuMi4ymAEAoAEBqgELZ3dzLXdpei1pbWc&sclient=img&ei=ZayNXqf0BcyI3LUP4IWq6A8&bih=588&biw=675&rlz=1C1CHBF_enAU886AU886#imgrc=nviZKv5EBnH-5M.
  7. Scott, K. (2020). Coronavirus is causing ‘significant’ anxiety. Here’s how to cope – ABC Life. Abc.net.au. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://www.abc.net.au/life/coping-with-anxiety-during-coronavirus/12084932.
  8. Gupta, D. (2020). COVID-19 Lockdown Guide: How to Manage Anxiety and Isolation During Quarantine. Adaa.org. Retrieved 8 April 2020, from https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/covid-19-lockdown-guide-how-manage-anxiety-and.

Understanding The Pandemic Rocking People’s Minds

(Woman in isolation, 2020)

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses (CoV), documented by Sadati el al., (2020) “are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more sever diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV). An epidemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread rapidly since December 8, 2019 in China.”

This was only the beginning.

“The Coronavirus shock was wider and stronger than severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), bird flu, and swine flu in previous years.”

(Sadati et al., 2020)

In addition, apart from the physical trauma that this pandemic has caused, the difference with this pandemic is the global sense of fragility of human life and our demand for “sterile society”, safe from hazards. We are now officially branded a “sterile society” hereafter.

“One of the most important consequences of the Coronavirus outbreak is the creation of social anxiety worldwide”

(Sadati et al., 2020)

Now as policies are put in place to expel the virus out of society, this constant fear of exposure has resulted in irrational behavior worldwide. Just take a look at the panic buying! We need to behave rationally.

Bill Gates’ Premonition

In 2015 there was a Ted Talk uploaded on YouTube with it now having in excess of 23 million views. This Ted Talk showcased Bill Gates foreseeing the future, the future of biological warfare. He conferred that the greatest threat of global catastrophe will be a deadly virus. Not any virus, a catastrophic deadly virus. He argued that the world has more of a chance of this deadly virus than a declaration of war. Furthermore, we will have invested very little for the next epidemic. We need preparedness. Like what we would do for war. Unfortunately we won’t be ready.

How right he was!

He then continues to answer the compelling question of what are the key pieces we need for an epidemic? Firstly, we will need strong health systems throughout all poverty-stricken countries. Secondly, we will need a Medical Reserve Core with the expertise. Thirdly, we will need to pair these medics with the military. Finally, we will need to conduct simulations, “Germ Games not War Games” (The next outbreak? We’re not ready | Bill Gates, 2020) so that we can see where the bottlenecks are. Together with this there will need to be extensive research conducted.

Bill Gates concluded that a world wide epidemic would effect global wealth as a whole. The global deficit possibly reaching 3 trillion dollars together with millions of deaths. The only positive in this situation, if we are prepared, is the Ebola Pandemic was an early ‘wake up call’ to get ready.

This Ted Talk was our opportunity to take note. Take note to plan and prepare. Unfortunately we are too late.


Managing Your Mental Health

Maintaining a healthy mindset is essential whilst cooped up in isolation. Whether it be in the comfort of your own home or cramped inside a hotel, mental health is a priority.

There are many ways, whether in self-isolation or in quarantine, to help balance your mental health. Beyond Blue (“Managing your mental health while in self-isolation – Beyond Blue”, 2020) have recommended the following:

  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus
  • Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting the virus
  • Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone
  • Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing
  • Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods
  • Try to maintain physical activity
  • Establish routines as best possible
  • For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work space
  • Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing

In addition, do not be afraid to seek help! It is very normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed by the news of a worldwide outbreak. For people, such as myself, who already struggle with mental health issues:

  • Prompt your support network
  • Recognise feelings of distress
  • Look for professional support early if you are having difficulties

Furthermore, if you want to know what services this organisation offers, including Fact Sheets on the Coronavirus, click on https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/

Beyond Blue is an independent, not for profit organisation supported by the Australian Federal Government including every state and territory.

1800 512 348


Helping Your Children Understand

What you choose to say to your children about Coronavirus will depend on their age. However, the process of talking to them is the same (“From toddlers to teens: How to talk about the coronavirus – Beyond Blue”, 2020).

The Director of Beyond Blue, Professor Brett McDermott suggests the following steps:

  1. Start the conversation – Children see their parents as protectors. They need to hear it from you
  2. Pick your moment – Take care to pick a moment when you’re not feeling anxious about this yourself, because anxiety is contagious.
  3. Strike the right tone – Be warm, thoughtful and acknowledge that it’s an emotional time. The way you deliver your message is vital.
  4. Encourage questions – Ask them if there’s anything else they’d like to know. They are curious creatures.

“Young children won’t have much concept of ‘coronavirus’ specifically, but they’ll know something’s happening simply because so many routines are changing.” – Professor Brett McDermott

(“From toddlers to teens: How to talk about the coronavirus – Beyond Blue”, 2020)

If you have older children and want some advice on how to address the issue, click on https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/i-am-supporting-others/children-and-students/from-toddlers-to-teens-how-to-talk-about-the-coronavirus.html


93 Days

A recent movie that opened my eyes to the Ebola Pandemic, 93 Days. Considering what we are all going through now, I feel blessed that we have such advanced medical facilities in Australia. This is a much watch!

(93 Days Trailer, 2020)

As I reflect on the current world crisis and the effect it has had on the populations mental health, it should remind us how societies are vulnerable both biologically and mentally. We must improve the fluidity not on the biological basis but also at mental, social and spiritual level.


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REFERENCE

  1. Khan, D. and Khan, D., 2020. Doctor’s Note: Coronavirus And Your Mental Health. [online] Aljazeera.com. Available at: <https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/doctor-note-coronavirus-mental-health-200318064257416.html&gt; [Accessed 6 April 2020].
  2. Woman in isolation. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 6 April 2020, from https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/doctor-note-coronavirus-mental-health-200318064257416.html.
  3. 93 Days Trailer. (2020). [Video]. Retrieved 6 April 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPeNgs6bMkY.
  4. Managing your mental health while in self-isolation – Beyond Blue. Coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au. (2020). Retrieved 7 April 2020, from https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/managing-my-daily-life/coping-with-isolation-and-being-at-home/managing-your-mental-health-while-in-self-isolation-or-quarantine.html.
  5. From toddlers to teens: How to talk about the coronavirus – Beyond Blue. Coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au. (2020). Retrieved 7 April 2020, from https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/i-am-supporting-others/children-and-students/from-toddlers-to-teens-how-to-talk-about-the-coronavirus.html.
  6. The next outbreak? We’re not ready | Bill Gates. (2020). [Image]. Retrieved 7 April 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Af6b_wyiwI.
  7. Sadati, A., B Lankarani, M., & Bagheri Lankarani, K. (2020). Risk Society, Global Vulnerability and Fragile Resilience; Sociological View on the Coronavirus Outbreak. Shiraz E-Medical JournalIn Press(In Press). https://doi.org/10.5812/semj.102263

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