socially anxious

Are you always worried about what others are thinking of you?  Do you avoid social situations because you are "too anxious?"  Please join us for this 4 week class as we discuss how anxious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can hold socially anxious people from enjoying school, work, friendships, and so much more.  We will help you stop hiding from socially anxiety and people by using Cognitive Behavioral skills to care more about yourself than others perceptions of you.


instructor

Randy Floyd, LSCSW, Founder, Clinical Level Therapist

Randy is the founder of Midwest Anxiety.  He is a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker who is an optimist and passionate about helping people focus on what they can do rather than what they can't do.  Randy believes that building a strong therapeutic relationship and tapping into a person's strengths are the most essential components of the therapeutic experience.  Randy is passionate about changing the way we do mental health.  He is focused on making mental health normal, a positive experience.  He is also adamant about doing mental health differently.  Randy believes the "old ways" suggest mental health is for the "broken" or "mentally ill."  Randy believes that "Everyone Struggles."  Sure.  Some people struggle more than others, but everyone struggles with something.  With this belief, Randy is focused on providing a wide range of programs and services to help people be mentally well ;) Go give Randy a fist bump on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.


SCHEDULE

4 WEEK CLASS

August 8, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm: Socially Anxious Basics

We will discuss the basics of social anxiety.  What is the role of social anxiety?  What are the two most important concepts to win the "social anxiety game?"  

August 15, 2018, 7:00pm-8:00pm: Socially Anxious Thoughts

Your thoughts can either accelerate or decelerate social anxiety.  We will discuss "social anxiety is neither helpful or hurtful, it is how you think about social anxiety that is helpful or hurtful."  You will learn a new mindset of managing socially anxious situations.

August 22, 2018, 7:00pm-8:00pm: Socially Anxious Feelings

Socially anxious feelings @&%#. Many times socially anxious people will do whatever it takes to avoid the anxious feelings of rapid heart rate, trouble breathing, sweating, and much more.  We will talk about how to celebrate the anxious feelings rather than fear the feelings.

August 29, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm: Socially Anxious Behaviors

Avoiding social anxiety makes it easier for the short term.  But long term, it just keeps coming back.  We will discuss how seeking reassurance, accomodations, and avoidance is keeping the socially anxiety going.


WEEK 1: Socially Anxiety Basics

The role of anxiety is to protect you from danger.  Anxiety is your alarm system.  True alarms of anxiety are when you are in imminent danger.  It keeps you safe. False alarms are when your your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors signal that you are in imminent danger but you are really not.

social anxiety situations

These are common "false alarms" in which socially anxious people have difficulty.

  1. Initiating conversations/interactions
  2. Making mistakes in front of other people
  3. Asserting self during conflict
  4. Center of attention

All social situations are NEUTRAL.  The #1 goal of this class is to help you become more aware of your THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, and BEHAVIORS to become less anxious in social situations.

    Anxiety makeS youR......

    1. Thoughts
      1. Zone into the threat, thoughts become negative. 
      2. Difficult to focus on other things other than anxious situation.
    2. Feelings
      1. Experience various physiological sensations such as heart palpitations, sweating, headaches, etc.
    3. Behaviors
      1. Fight, Flight, or Freeze. 
      2. Generally need reassurance, accommodations, or avoidance.

    Start with these basic cbt skills

    1. Thoughts
      1. "Think the opposite thought"
      2. Say to yourself "I can handle whatever happens."
    2. Feelings
      1. "Push through" feelings. 
      2. Embrace being anxious.  This will allow you to develop skills to work through anxiety. 
    3. Behaviors
      1. Don't decrease the anxiety by seeking reassuring, accommodating, or avoiding.

    Two Important Concepts to Win the "Social Anxiety Game"

    Two things have to happen for you to become less socially anxious. You have to:

    1. Be Uncomfortable- Understand and embrace you are going to "feel" uncomfortable.  Instead of avoiding the physical symptoms, you beat anxiety by going into the physical symptoms.  The more you go into the physical symptoms, the more they decrease over time. 
    2. Be Uncertain- Embrace that you don't know how things are going to turn out.  You may stumble over your words.  Someone might laugh at you.  Your cheeks may get red.  But you will be able to "handle it."  Don't seek certainty as you will lose the game.

    TAKEWAYS

    1. Become highly Self Aware! Push pause in social situations.  What are your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?
    2. Don't back down to Social Anxiety.  Go into the anxiety rather than away from it. 

    Week 2: Socially Anxious Thoughts

    This week we will to discuss strategies that have been useful for decreasing social anxiety by changing negative or unrealistic patterns of thinking. 

    REMEMBER FROM LAST WEEK

    Thoughts

    1. Zone into the threat, thoughts become negative, distorted, unrealistic.
    2. Difficult to focus on other things other than anxious situation.

    Feelings

    Behaviors

    Cognitive Distortions

    Ways people think when socially anxious that are unhelpful to them.

    1. ALL OR NONE THINKING

    Seeing no middle ground.

    2. OVERGENERALIZATION

    Unintentional exaggeration of the frequency of a situation or an inaccurate extrapolation.

    3. MENTAL FILTER

    Acknowledging only information that is consistent with already-believed thoughts.

    4. DISCOUNTING THE POSITIVE

    Believing that positive information (that is contrary to your current beliefs) somehow “doesn’t count” as

    evidence that the situation is better that it had seemed.

    5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

    Forming an opinion (on which you would act) without knowing the facts.

    6. MAGNIFICATION

    Exaggerating the importance of something.

    7. EMOTIONAL REASONING (GUT THINKING)

    Thinking in a certain manner that is heavily influenced by your current mood. Also, believing that your

    feelings are proof that your thoughts are accurate.

    8. LABELING

    Assigning a name to someone or something and the name does not accurately reflect or describe the

    person or object.

    9. PERSONALIZATION AND BLAME

    Mistakenly assigning the cause of something to either yourself or someone else.

    10. IRRITATIONAL SHOULD STATEMENTS

    Rigid, unbending rules that often have no evidence to support them. Imply belief in magic.

    11. CONFUSING NEEDS WITH WANTS

    Thinking that you “need” something when in fact you only “want” it. Absolute “needs” to keep us alive

    are air, food, water, warmth. “How long can I go without this before I die?”

    12. CONFUSING “CHOOSING TO” WITH “HAVING TO”

    Not realizing that something is a choice rather than a necessity.

    13. CAN’T STAND-IT IS

    Believing that you cannot withstand or tolerate something when you can.

    14. CATASTROPHIZING

    Thinking something is to terrible, horrible, and/or awful, rather than it being simply “bad”.

    15. MAGICAL WORRY

    Believing that somehow your worry keeps the feared event from occurring.

    16. IRRATIONAL DEFINITIONS

    Having a definition of something that usually is not based on fact and insisting that your definition is

    the only correct way to define it.

    17. CONFUSING RELYING WITH DEPENDENCY

    Thinking that you need someone’s assistance when in fact you only want it.

    18. CONFUSING INABILITY WITH UNWILLINGNESS

    Thinking that you cannot do something when in fact you do not do it because you are reluctant.

    19. CONFUSING POSSIBILITY WITH PROBABILITY

    Usually in the form of taking a remote possibility and making it a distinct probability.

    20. PROJECTION

    Assigning your own motives or thoughts to someone else, thinking that they must think like you do.

    21. BEING UPSET ABOUT AN “IDEA” RATHER THEN THE “FACTS”

    Being upset about a circumstance despite the fact that it is the way you want it to be. You are upset

    because you think that you are supposed to be.

    22. NONSENSE ARGUMENTS

    Distracting yourself with an obvious statement of fact.

    23. IRRITATIONAL HOPELESSNESS/HELPLESSNESS

    Believing that your idea that there is no solution to your problem is accurate.

    24. TOO MUCH/TOO LITTLE PROBLEM

    Believing that the amount of something (an attribute, for example) is responsible for some undesired

    condition/situation.

    25. AMBIVALENT BELIEFS

    Usually moralistic. Believing an idea strongly enough to feel badly that you are not acting on it, but not

    strongly enough to act on it.

    Strategies for Changing Socially Anxious Thinking

    1. Examining the evidence for your beliefs.  The fact you are being judged by others in a particular situation does not mean that your fearful predictions and thoughts are true.  Your beliefs are not facts.  Treat your anxious thoughts as guesses or hypotheses.  Examine the evidence for your beliefs.

    2. Challenging catastrophic thinking. Shifting the focus of your thoughts from how terrible a particular outcome would be to how you might manage or cope with the situation if it were to occur. 

    3. Remembering your strengths and positive attributes. Changing your tendency to shift your focus from the areas in which you don't measure up to areas you excel or in which you are similar to other people.

    4. Seeing with another person's perspective. Trying to mentally "step out" of the situation for a moment and imagine what would you tell you friend or family member.  You might say something like, "You probably did better than you think." or "Even if you did look anxious, people probably didn't care."

    5. Cost-benefit analysis. Examine the costs and benefits of constantly dwelling on the the thought.  How would the quality of your life improve if you didn't dwell on the thought?

    6. Rational coping statements.  Short non-anxious sentences that may help to combat your anxious thinking.  Easy to use and don't take the logical analysis as some of the other techniques.  "It would be manageable if _______ didn't like me." "It's okay to blush in front of others."  "It's okay to look anxious during a presentation." "People don't seem to notice my shaky hands."

    7. Behavioral experiments. Challenging your anxious thoughts by setting up behavioral experiments to either prove or disprove your thoughts.  These experiments are often known as "exposures."


    Week 3: Socially Anxious Feelings

    1. Thoughts
    2. Feelings
      1. Experience various physiological sensations such as heart palpitations, sweating, headaches, etc. Before you face your fears, you need to know that you can cope with your physical reactions to fear.
    3. Behaviors

    Your Body's Reaction to Fear

    Physical sensations you feel just prior to, or upon entering, a dreaded social situation.  These sensations are acute, come on all the sudden, and feel quite intense.

    • Hyperventilation- shortness of breath, lightheadedness, faintness, clamminess, tingling or numbness in your extremities, and derealization (feeling like you are walking around in a dream).
    • Sweating

    Chronic bodily symptoms of anxiety may be less intesne but more frequent and extended over a longer period of time.  These include things like:

    • Headaches
    • Stomachaches
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability

    Handling Socially Anxious Feelings, Not Getting Rid of Them

    1. Make sure you are medically well.  This will give you confidence that what you are experiencing is anxiety and not medical.
    2. Expect to get anxious.  Celebrate getting anxious, because that is when the true work happens.
    3. Be uncertain and uncomfortable.  This will help you build tolerance and skills to anxiety.
    4. Re-create the symptoms that make you anxious.
    5. Accepting that anxiety can't be eliminated and that you can still function effectively despite being anxious is an important to lesson learn.
    6. The anxious feelings will begin to decrease in intensity and you will become more confident as you work through them more.

    PACED BREATHING

    Slower, more regular rate of breathing.  Breathe from your stomach rather than your chest.  When you breath from your chest you increase the likelihood of hyperventilating.  Hyperventilation alters your body's chemistry ever so slightly.  It changes the balances of carbon dioxide, calcium, oxygen, and bicarbonate.  These changes are not life threatening, but do make you "feel" the symptoms of anxiety more. 

    1. Breathe slowly. Concentrate on deliberately slowing down the pace of your breathing.  Don't worry.  You can't breathe too slowly.  Also focusing on your breathing helps you shift your attention away from anxious symptoms.
    2. Breathe through your nose. This helps to control breathing.  You will not be able to gulp air or breath shallow through your nose.
    3. Alternate paced and normal breathing. Try to switch your breathing from your chest to abdomen.  If you have respiratory condition, please consult your physician.

    Diaphragmatic Breathing

    Practice these steps as a calming technique prior to, during, or after anxious episodes. 

    1. Find a quite spot where you'll be free from interruptions.
    2. Get comfortable.
    3. Rate your anxiety before, during, and after diaphragmatic breathing.  Use the SUDS scale to rate your breathing. 
    4. Practice paced breathing.  Lie on your back.  Put your hand between your belly button and rib cage.  Practice on making your stomach move your hand. 
    5. Remember to breath slowly and through your nose.

    You can't force yourself to relax.  In fact, trying to force yourself to breath may increase your chances of hyperventialiating.

     

    Dying of Embarrasement, Chpt. 5, Barbara Markway et al.


    Week 4: Socially Anxious Behaviors

    Exposures are the central behavioral technique for combating social anxiety.  Exposures are the process of facing of your fears instead of avoiding your fears.

    Exposures work in three ways

    1. Helps you learn that certain actions will not lead to disapproval, or that when disapproval occurs its not a catastrophe.
    2. Repeated, graduated exposure allows you to become used to, or to habituate to, anxiety-provoking interactions.
    3. Properly planned and executed exposures build confidence that enables you to take the next step.

    Two Types of Exposures

    1. Imaginal- You face your fears by imagining social interactions that you avoid or dread.  It can be used to help you prepare for in vivo exposures.
    2. In vivo exposures- Completes exposure in real life.

    Exposure Hierarchy

    • List situations from least anxiety to most anxiety provoking.  Start with least anxiety provoking and work your way up to most anxiety provoking.
    • Be specific with situations.
    • Hierarchy allows you to see that you do not experience the same degree of anxiety in all situations. 
    • As you complete exposure, you are able to test your thoughts, pushing through your physical feelings.

    Exposure Examples

    Remember to Week 1, socially anxious people struggle in these four areas:

    1. Initiating conversations/interactions
    2. Making mistakes in front of other people
    3. Asserting self during conflict
    4. Center of attention

    Here are some exposure examples:

    • Have a cup of coffee with one co-worker on a breatk
    • Go to movie with a friend
    • Have a one friend over to my apartment for pizza.
    • Eat dinner at fancy, expensive restaurant with three people
    • Play tennis with someone from church.
    • Ask for direction
    • Ask someone to take the next elevator
    • Trip in front of someone
    • Pay for something with the incorrect amount of money
    • Underestimate the size of your feet to a salesperson

    Takeaways

    1. Go at your own pace.  Want to experience some anxiety both with thoughts and feelings, but not too much.
    2. Wait until your anxiety level drops before ending an exposure session.
    3. Practice! Practice! Practice!
    4. Minimize distractions during exposures. Want to experience anxiety.  Distractions take you away from experiencing anxiety.

    Dying of Embarrassment, Chpt. 7-10, Barbara Markway et al.

    Next Steps

    1. Nothing.  Just let it ride and see how it goes ;)
    2. Take some more LIVE or Recorded classes.  This class pairs well with Anxious Kids = Anxious Parents and Growth Mindset for Parents, and School Refusal: Parents.
    3. Need more help than just a class?  Try the Monthly Club or Individual Therapy.
    4. Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

     
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    RESOURCES


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    LIVE STUDENTS ONLY: You should have received an invite to join Basecamp. This is where we will communicate about the class ;)  Your classmates are also in Basecamp so feel free to connect with them.  Our hope is that Basecamp is the place you can go  between classes to get info, support, talk about how you are doing with the skills you're learning.

    We highly encourage you download the Basecamp 3 app to your phone and computer.  The App will help you stay up to date with the class.  If you didn't receive a Basecamp invite or having trouble signing in, contact us below.
     


    Continued Support

    Do you want to connect with other people who may have similar struggles?  Wanting some extra resources between classes?  Join the Everyone Struggles closed Facebook Group.  This is the common place I encourage people to "hang out" between classes to get peer support and extra resources from me.  Hope to see you in the Everyone Struggles group soon ;) 


     
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    We believe social and emotional wellness can happen in many different ways.  We offer a variety of services for children, teens, and adults to help improve self-awareness and better manage social and emotional struggles.

    We've designed our services to build off each other.  So what you learn in the classes will help you in the Monthly Club and the Monthly Club will put you that much further ahead in Individual Therapy.   You don't necessarily have to go in that order.  Just know, whatever level you begin, we'll help you build a good foundation of Cognitive Behavioral skills and cheer you on until you are rockin' it ;)


    Let's stay connected

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    We would love to connect with you on social!  It's a great place to say hey and us to share some awesome resources.  Make sure you like, follow, and subscribe to @midwestanxiety on Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, Facebook, and YouTube. 



    Limits and Restrictions:

    The materials distributed are provided with the understanding that the author and presenters are not engaged in rendering professional services. This is a psychoeducational class and information in the presentations or group discussions by the presenters, facilitators, or participants should not be considered to be medical, psychological, legal, financial, or spiritual counsel. The presentations and written materials are not intended to provide medical, psychological, legal, financial, or spiritual services or counseling. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Any opinions, finding, recommendations or conclusions expressed by the author(s) or speaker(s) do not necessarily reflect the views of Midwest Anxiety, LLC.