While there’s nothing abnormal about being shy, shyness or social anxiety can affect your social well-being and even health if it becomes a habit. Let’s take some time to shed some light on shyness, and the problems it can create.
Did you know that social anxiety disorder is the third most prevalent problem affecting the world today and that social anxiety disorder affects 15 million adults or 6.8 percent of the U.S population1? We bet you didn’t. But, this isn’t a face-off between you and HealthFaire to decide who’s more knowledgeable. Rather, it’s about imparting knowledge about shyness/social anxiety and the problems it can cause.
According to a recent study, up to 33.7 percent of the population are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.2Additionally, the social anxiety institute reveals that about 7 percent of the population suffers from some form of social anxiety at any given time.3 Clearly, shyness/social anxiety is a problem and one that you can work to overcome. How can you do that? HealthFaire will provide you the details once you have a solid understanding of shyness, its causes, and the limitations it brings.
What Is Shyness and What Causes It?
Equally common among men and women, shyness or social anxiety typically takes center stage around age 13. Often dubbed as social phobia, shyness causes extreme fear and distress in social settings. How are the people with this problem affected? They have trouble talking to people, making new friends, and attending social gatherings. They fear judgment or scrutiny by others. While people with shyness realize that their fears are irrational or unreasonable, they often feel powerless to overcome them.
Persistent and debilitating, social anxiety or shyness can disrupt your life by affecting your ability to work, attend school, or develop relationships with people other than your family. So, how do you know you’re suffering from social anxiety and that your problem isn’t something else?
If you often notice the following in yourself when you’re in a social setting, then you can be sure that you’re suffering from shyness or social anxiety:
- Mumbling when talking
- Excessive sweating
- Trembling or shaking
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Rapid heartbeat
The above are the physical signs of shyness that you need to look for. There are also some psychological symptoms that indicate shyness in you. These symptoms are stated below:
- Worrying intensely about social situations
- Missing school or work due to anxiety
- Worrying for days or even weeks before an event
- Worrying that other people will notice that you are stressed or nervous
- Avoiding social gathering or blending into the background if you must attend
- Worrying about embarrassing yourself in a social situation
While it’s normal to feel nervous in some social situations, you need help if the fear of being judged or scrutinized by others always make you anxious or fearful in a social setting. If you don’t get help, your shyness can disrupt your life by affecting your social well-being and your overall health. Of course you don’t want that happening. That’s why you’re here.
We are here to help you take control of your shyness, but before we provide you with treatment options, it is important that you understand what causes the shyness or social anxiety. Once you know what’s causing your shyness, you will be in a better position to overcome your problem.
The Causes of Shyness
What causes shyness? There are many potential reasons for your shyness. While the exact cause of social phobia is unknown, many negative experiences are said to contribute to it. These negative experiences include bullying, family conflict, and sexual abuse. While it is rare, physical abnormalities such as serotonin imbalance can also contribute to social anxiety or shyness. A chemical in the brain, serotonin helps regulate mood.
Social anxiety can also be inherited from parents. While you don’t inherit this problem from your parents genetically, noticing shyness or social anxiety in them during your early years can cause you to develop the same habit. Since children learn from their parents or others they live with, it’s only natural for you to develop shyness or social anxiety if your parents suffer from the same.
Another major cause of shyness is humiliating public experiences. If you’ve ever been bullied or shamed by your peers or teachers at school, then this has probably impacted your development. Children or teenagers whose development is affected by such public experiences are likely to develop shyness or social anxiety that stays with them for the rest of their lives unless, of course, they get help.
Most people develop shyness or social anxiety when they are still relatively young. This is because most of the experiences that shape our personality occur during our childhood or teenage years. Family dynamics can have an impact on a child’s social development, including such issues as marital separation or divorce. When parents separate, children and teens may feel a sense of shame or blame. They may be reluctant to share the news with their friends or others they know. This urge to hide these developments in their personal life may become stronger over time. Some may start avoiding social interactions or become embarrassed when someone asks about their parents. Eventually, this causes shyness or social anxiety to become a permanent problem in certain children and teens.
Critical relatives, neighbors, or teachers also play a role in the development of shyness or social anxiety in a person. Some societies have a very critical culture. Often this culture affects the personality or confidence of children and teens within that society. Whether it is their teachers, neighbors, or close relatives, the critics may cause children and teens to doubt their capabilities and intelligence, making them less confident about themselves, which ultimately causes them to develop shyness or social anxiety.
Not many people consider it to be a reason for shyness or social anxiety, but some research indicates that children who experience less affection or more distant connections at home, may be more likely than others to develop shyness or social anxiety. Some families do not express their feelings or do so rarely, especially when it comes to showing joy and care for the accomplishments of family members. This can contribute to shyness in children and teenagers within the family, and can have long-lasting implications. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many ways of overcoming shyness. How do you overcome it?
Let’s look at the limitations caused by shyness first, then we’ll talk about how to overcome the problem.
What Limitations Does Shyness Cause?
Shyness causes you to become anxious or nervous in social situations or when you are around other people. Overcoming shyness and social anxiety is important since it can cause many limitations. These include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble being assertive
- Poor social skills
- Low academic and employment achievement
- Hypersensitivity to criticism
- Isolation and difficult social relationships
- Negative self-talk
People who suffer from shyness or social anxiety often have trouble speaking in a group, giving a presentation or speech, making new friends, taking to someone in authority, expressing their opinion, or speaking to someone they’re interested in.
In addition to the above, shy people fear being introduced, being observed during an activity, eating or drinking in public, using the telephone, going to a party, using public toilets, or being the center of attention. Over time, all of these limitations of shyness add up to cause social anxiety disorder, the most severe form of shyness.
The problems caused by social anxiety disorder can have a lasting impact on your life. So, before your shyness or social anxiety starts to affect your life and health, seek help for your problem. You can try some simple steps on your own first, as listed below, which you can practice right in your own home. If that doesn’t offer relief, it might be time to move on to a professional.
What Are the Shyness Home Treatments?
Overcoming shyness may be easier than you thought. Sometimes professional help isn’t necessary to overcome shyness as shyness home treatments may be enough to do the trick. But, what are the shyness home treatments that you need to consider for your problem? Following are some home remedies you can try to overcome shyness and the limitations it brings.
Keep a Journal
You wouldn’t think this would make the list, but it has. If your shyness is starting to affect you day-to-day, then start keeping track of everything that happens in your personal life. This will allow you to identify what’s causing your stress. Once you have identified the reason for your shyness or social anxiety, you will be in a better position to overcome it.
Prioritize Issues in Your Life
Often, prioritizing issues in your life is enough to overcome shyness and social anxiety. When you carefully manage your time and energy, you spend more time on things that you enjoy, which helps to reduce the anxiety in you.
Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This involves controlling anxiety through relaxation and meditation and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is the best therapy for many health problems and this includes shyness and social anxiety. It is recommended that you get at least eight hours of sleep to decrease your anxiety and shyness.
If your condition doesn’t improve after trying these methods, then you may need the help of a professional.
When Is Professional Help the Only Option for Extreme Shyness?
If you’ve tried the home treatments and still haven’t overcome shyness, then you are a candidate for professional treatment in dealing with your shyness and social anxiety issues. People who struggle to treat their shyness with home treatments are those suffering from extreme shyness.
A professional will use a variety of techniques to help you overcome your problem including treating you through group therapy and prescribing medications that treat social anxiety and shyness. While these medications don’t cure social phobia, they can help relieve its symptoms. However, before using any medication for your condition, confirm that it is approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Exposure therapy is another therapy used by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to treat shyness and social anxiety. This type of therapy gradually encourages people to face social situations, rather than avoiding them. This ultimately helps to overcome shyness.
Has Shyness Always Been an Issue or Is It More Prevalent Now with The Widespread Use of Cell Phones and Computers?
With the widespread use of computers and phones, one would think that shyness is more prevalent now than it was say twenty or thirty years ago, but that is not true. Shyness has always been a problem, and this is explained well in “How Shyness Became an Illness: A Brief History of Social Phobia 4.”