Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

Teen: Dear Dr. Expert,

Every time I have to make a phone call I get this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. My face gets hot, and it's like I can't talk anymore. My mind just goes blank. It's so embarrassing - I can't even call any of my friends. It's really beginning to affect my social life - I even missed a party last week because I was too scared to call a friend for a ride! I didn't used to be so shy. What's happening to me?

Shy in Sudbury
Dr. Expert: Dear Shy in Sudbury,

It sounds like you have some social anxiety. Think about what exactly you're afraid will happen in those situations. For example, are you worried that you might say something stupid when you use the phone?

After you figure out what you're afraid will happen, take some time to really evaluate those worries. Are you 100% sure that what you fear is going to happen? What happened last time you worried like this? It's really important to evaluate your worries, because sometimes we overestimate how likely it is a bad thing will happen. Or we assume that if it DOES happen it's going to be really horrible.

Once you've looked at the evidence, try to come up with a more realistic and helpful thought, such as, "Even if I do say something stupid, they might not even notice, and if they do I can just make a joke of it by saying, "Well, that was silly."

It is also important to start facing social situations that you fear or have been avoiding. That's one of the best ways to feel more comfortable in those situations. Start with the least scary situation (such as calling a parent or a sibling) and then work your way up to more difficult ones (calling a best friend, a friend you don't know as well, or a stranger, etc.). The key is to practice, practice, practice. If you practice every day you will be calling all sorts of people in no time!

Learn more on how to think more realistically and how to face your fears

For more help and ideas, check out the MindShift app.