Social anxiety is one of the most common anxiety disorders. Whilst it is normal to feel anxious in some social situations (for example, public speaking) social anxiety can affect our everyday interactions. This can make many  scenarios extremely difficult.

Social anxiety is not about general shyness, or just feeling uncomfortable in social situations.

Everyone is of course different in terms of how outgoing or how reserved they are. Social anxiety describes extreme stress, anxiety or fear in social situations. This is not usually in all situations, as some situations may be completely fine. Yet others can be like a complete nightmare. Generally, these are those situations when you are around other people. Sometimes they may be in just specific situations, such as eating in front of others, going to a social gathering. It can also be making a phone call in front of others or going into a shop and talking to a shopkeeper. There are so many situations and in extreme cases, social anxiety can apply to ALL social situations.

Key symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Difficulty making eye contact with others.
  • Hating bringing attention to yourself or hating people looking at you in case you say or do something wrong.
  • Worrying about blushing is also common concern. Or the fear of other physical symptoms that may cause you embarrassment, such as sweating, trembling or having a shaky voice.
  • You may show physical symptoms such as excessive blushing, trembling, fast heartbeat. Or even, sweating, nausea, upset stomach, dizziness and trouble catching your breath. Sometimes feeling your mind has gone completely blank.
  • Difficulty eating in front of others (very common) so you may not be able to go to restaurants.
  • Avoidance of many situations and making excuses to do so, to the extent that this interferes with your daily routine (going to work, school etc).
  • Avoiding asking people for help.
  • Overthinking and reliving social experiences you feel shame about.
  • Reading too much into non-verbal cues.
  • Assuring people think badly about you, driven by the fear of being judged, embarrassed, humiliated or by fear of offending someone.
  • Feeling like everyone is watching you and judging you eg when you walk into a room, even though that is not the case.
  • Avoiding spaces where you can’t easily hide.
  • Intense fear of talking to strangers.
  • Not showing your true self.
  • Being extremely aware of how you behave.
  • Rehearsing what you will say in your head, before you speak.



The great news is that no-one is born with social anxiety! Even though it’s really common, the fact that you’re not born with it means that you don’t have to live with it forever. This also means that social anxiety is a learned behaviour. This can be from either copying someone else who also has social anxiety eg. a parent, or as a result of a bad experience where you felt that you had a spotlight one you, and this was embarrassing or unpleasant.

Whilst we also often meet people who outwardly look so confident, many on the inside they too would tell you that they have social anxiety. Those people also find social encounters extremely difficult. There is  a lot to be said for the saying ‘fake it till you make it’!’ This statement can help whilst you are also working on boosting your confidence and self-esteem. Self esteem and confidence are the fundamental to conquering your social anxiety.

With the correct therapy, please do be reassured that you can completely overcome social anxiety.

We also have lots of videos on our YouTube channel to help with this topic too. You can also find tips to boost your confidence here in our blogs, on our social media channels, and also on our podcast Making The Change. Once you do this you will be confident enough in yourself to be un-phased by the judgement of others, or worrying about what other people think about you.