It’s not just you. New Yorkers are an anxious bunch.
Roughly 90 percent of the population says they feel nervous or awkward in social situations. The National Institute of Mental Health says about 40 million Americans are adversely impacted by social anxiety to the point they disengage with society.
But how do you know when that social anxiety is normal and when you need to see a professional therapist.
Kristene Doyle, the Executive Director of the Albert Ellis Institute advises, recently told the WB11 Morning News that it becomes more of a disorder when you actively remove yourself from social scenes based on your irrational fears.
“Social anxiety can be an intense fear of embarrassing yourself in front of people, humiliating yourself, but also there’s this fear that I’m going to be judged critically and negatively by other people,” Doyle said on the WB11 Morning News.
If you are feeling nervous or awkward in a bar or a social gathering, Doyle says you can get over that social anxiety by accepting that no person is perfect. And be conscious of your body language.
Don’t fidget, make eye contact and ask open-ended questions. You can also do some simple breathing exercises to increase the oxygen to your blood, which will also make you feel more at ease.
“Put one hand on your chest, and one hand on your stomach,” Doyle said. “The problem with most people who have social anxiety is they tend to breathe from their chest so it’s very shallow, which increases the anxiety. What we want to do is get you breathing from your stomach.”
If you do this correctly, Doyle says your stomach should rise. Hold it, then breathe out slowly. This breathing exercise will help you feel less anxious very quickly, Doyle says.
Doyle says she and other therapists with the Albert Ellis Institute have helped many people with social anxiety disorders by changing their way of thinking.