Social phobias or anxiety is not rare and Dr. Michael Liebowitz says that he “has treated corporate vice presidents so frightened of public speaking that they consider abandoning their careers just to avoid the podium, and concert musicians who, when a performance looms, spend the hours leading up to it shaking and vomiting.” Nonetheless, through successful intervention these vice presidents and musicians lead healthy careers that are not handicapped by their anxiety.
Here are some suggestions for helping deal with social anxiety:
Raise awareness. Many people are not aware that social anxiety exists. Understanding that what you or your child is feeling is relatable and treatable may relieve some of the stress that she feels.
Reframe thoughts. You or your children can recognize that your thoughts cause your feelings and behaviors, rather than external things, such as people, situations, and events. The benefit of this recognition is that once you realize that the way you think influences the way you feel, you can then function even if the situation does not change.
Social skills training. Through role-playing and interactive activities, you can learn communication skills. If you understand that you have these skills in your social arsenal, you will feel more in control when you meet someone for the first time.
Breathing exercises. Teaching yourself or your children relaxation breathing can help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. This will, in turn, help you calm your mind when it begins to race.
About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills specialist, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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