Social anxiety is a very real thing in the modern world. It involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others. It's very common to have a small dose of social anxiety, but anxiety in unusually high doses is more like social phobia.
When we, as practising image consultants, do a personality analysis on individuals, we get to understand their natural personality and work on building the best version of that image with confidence and emotional balance. The good news is social anxiety can be curbed through various sessions and confidence-building exercises. The symptoms are often seen from teenage years to young adult life to adulthood. The sooner you address it, the better.
A few ways to curb social phobia:
1. Identify if you have a problem. Do a personality analysis on yourself. Are you disinterested in going out or building social relationships? Does it feel daunting to be out and about in a social gathering or a business networking event? Do you need a drink to calm down and feel confident if you are at a social or business gathering? Do you feel trapped and desire an escape at the earliest? Do you avoid engaging in conversation and find it difficult to maintain eye contact? Are you at times overexcited, mostly around very close friends and family, but other times completely in your shell? Do you feel daunted when you are asked to say hello to a friend or a relative over the phone? Don't confuse social phobia with introvert behaviour. The two are not the same. A talk therapy or a good image consultant can help before you take the route of taking psychiatry help or antidepressants.
2. Do the mirror exercise. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and speak to yourself. Recite an essay or practise an introduction speech that you wrote for yourself. While you do that, be mindful of your body language. Use your hands while you speak, look at yourself, give yourself constructive criticism, be mindful of your posture and the sound of your voice and communication. Record yourself on your smartphone when you feel slightly confident after practising 3-4 times in front of a mirror. If you do this exercise for a few days, you will find a remarkable difference from your Day 1 video to your Day 7 video.
3. Watch for visual impact. As shallow as it may sound, dressing well and looking credible is an instant way to feel confident and the first step to this exercise to curb social phobia. When you wear a tailored jacket or a formal shirt with a collar, it gives you a visual structure on the eye-to-body psychology. In a split second of contact, you assess your own appearance and the likability factor forms immediately. Your facial features are enhanced with a collared shirt or a tee-shirt instead of a round collar. Similarly, your posture and body language look more enhanced with a tailored jacket. The psychology behind this is that the more organised you look in your visual impact, the more confident you feel. It helps you be more confident socially initially. Once you master it, go ahead and dress down at your convenience. Remembering, initially, it will feel daunting, but with time and practice, you will be completely transformed. Till next week, #beextraordinary.