Anxiety and social anxiety

What is social anxiety and how do we manage it

Social anxiety is the word used to describe the feelings of fear and anxiety that occur in response to social situations. Many of us know the feelings of anxiety, but in the case of social anxiety these feelings can be so powerful and overwhelming that it prevents us from doing things that we enjoy.

Anxiety is related to the flight or fight response. The fight or flight response happens when our brain or body feels under threat. Our bodies prepare for the fight or flight by releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. In cave man times the flight or flight was used to fight danger or flee danger. Now in society we don’t face the same dangers as people did back then, but our body still reacts the same. These hormones that are released can make you feel more alert and make your pulse race. Which leads us on the symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety causes both physical sensations and psychological sensations.


  • Nausea
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • breathing faster/ breathing heavier/ breath shallow
  • Sweating (sweaty palms)
  • higher pulse or blood pressure
  • headaches and sore body
  • difficulty getting to sleep/ staying asleep
  • needing to go to the toilet more frequently/ less frequentlY


  • Feeling nervous/tense/
  • overwhelming feeling of dread or that something bad is going to happen
  • feeling like your thoughts or racing or that you can’t think straight.
  • Believing that others or looking at you or think your acting weird. (Anxiety obvious)
  • feeling very self-aware, unsure of your every movement.
  • Restlessness
  • lack of concentration

Anxiety affects people in many different ways, and you have to remember that one feelings for you might mean something completely different to someone else. Two people may experience nausea when anxious but only one experiences difficulty with sleeping.

When it comes to mental illness, we tend to forget that human beings are all different in their own ways and there experience of mental illness won’t necessarily mirror another’s.

Sometimes anxiety can be hard to recognise. We may not even notice our own symptoms of anxiety. One of the key elements in recovery is recognition. If we can recognise the thoughts or feelings making us feel bad, then we can learn to change them. Anxiety is the exact same. It’s about educating yourself on what anxiety is and getting a sense of what anxiety feel’s like.

When you look at the sensations above can you identify any you sometimes feel? If the answer is yes than do not think something’s wrong with you. We all feel anxious from time to time but if you can identify sensations, I ask you to try push yourself to recognise triggers and situations.

For me personally I’ve started suffering with severe social anxiety. Since losing my leg my anxiety has increased. I think to myself “It’s so obvious, If anybody see’s me they will be able to immediately recognise me because of my prosthetic leg”. The doctor asked me to dive deeper into it and I told her that I was struggling with my self-image. Since the accident I had put on a lot of weight and I felt like I wasn’t the beautiful girl I was before. I felt embarrassed about my weight gain. Usually I am quite good at recognising and managing my anxiety, but I felt this time I couldn’t. When in Galway I just wanted to get on with my shopping blending into the crowd like anyone else. I felt my prosthetic leg was a barrier to this. That instead I could easily be recognised by people who knew me, and I assumed they would be thinking “Jesus she really messed herself up jumping in front of that train, the state of her. She’s got so fat. She doesn’t even look like herself”.

This here is the most negative of thinking. Its me believing I am a mind reader (I most definitely am not). Catastrophizing every little detail.

The definition of catastrophizing on google is 


“view or present a situation as considerably worse than it actually is”.


I have to challenge these thoughts and challenge myself. Is my prosthetic that obvious? The answer is no, and I am told repeatedly “I didn’t even notice it”. I need to learn to challenge the irrational thought that my prosthetic sticks out because rationally I know it does not. Challenging my thoughts around my body image takes a bit more time and a bit more learning but it is possible.

Learning to separate our thoughts are rational and irrational helps to guide us back to the reality of the situation and take us out of the fictional reality the anxiety has created in our minds.

Facing up to the thoughts and body sensations anxiety makes us feel can be uncomfortable and difficult at first but it can also be the first step in breaking the cycle of fear and insecurity.

There are many ways one can manage their anxiety

  • Talking to someone you trust about what’s making you feel anxious might help you feel better. I know that when I talk to my friends about my irrational thoughts with anxiety, they are able to reassure me and guide me back into perspective.
  • Breathing exercises can help manage anxiety and anxiety’s symptoms. When we focus on our breath we can learn to steady and control it. Breathing exercises can work by getting your breath back on track, steady and slow. Unlike the fast-shallow breath, you initially felt when the anxiety came on.

Find breathing exercises for anxiety here

  • Shift your focus by zoning in on your senses. We have five senses. SIGHT. TOUCH. SMELL. SOUND. TASTE. These can help bring us back to a safe place when we are feeling anxious. Name something you can see. Something you can hear. Something you can feel. Something you can smell. If there is a flower near you use this. Nature can be really useful when focusing in on your senses. Admire the colours. Smell the sweet aroma. Listen to the hunny bees busy at work. Touch the grass. Maybe you can feel the sun on your face, hear the wind blow. This can help distract you from the anxiety you feel.
  • Distract yourself with something you enjoy. Go for a run, paint a picture. Watch a movie. Listen to music. As long as it is something that shifts your attention from the anxiety to the task/activity you are going to distract yourself with.
  • Physical activity can help manage anxiety. Maybe you feel better when you start your day with a morning run. Maybe lifting weights takes you away from the anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins making us feel good. Making us feel powerful. Maybe the evening salsa class you attend makes you feel light and happy. Whatever helps you feel better is what matters.
  • Complementary therapies like yoga, meditation, hypnotherapy. I have recently gotten into guided meditations. At some point in the day every day I go somewhere quiet (usually my bedroom to lie down). I plug in my earphones, put on my sleep mask and I do a 30-45-minute guided meditation. I find I cannot get through the day without it. It makes me feel good, it makes me feel in control and it relaxes me. I also fall asleep every night to a guided meditation or a sleep hypnosis.

Check out my post on my favourite meditations here

  • Support groups help us feel less alone and they also give us the opportunity to share experiences and ways of coping with others who are facing similar situations. Support groups can be enlightening, educational, comforting and who knows maybe you’ll make a new friend. Below I have left some links of support groups found online.

Treatment for anxiety

The most common treatment for anxiety is talking treatments. Talking treatments refers to counselling or therapy. There is many different types of therapy available. One might work with a therapist to help understand the root of your anxiety and explore ways of managing it together.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is known for treating anxiety. CBT is a therapy aimed at identifying THOUGHTS TRIGGERS AND BEHAVIOURS. It’s about learning to change the thought leading to a change in the behaviours and feelings associated with it. CBT is highly effective, and I personally recommend CBT is something that we could all do with learning to better our lives. You can find out more about CBT HERE

There are many books wrote on cognitive behavioural therapy and my top recommendations are as follows

Ps the untethered soul is one of my favourite books and I truly recommend it. Jamie adores Sarah Knight and she highly recommends her collection of books.

Guys I hope this helps you even a little bit.

Know that anxiety is completely treatable, and you don’t have to feel that way forever. It’s about finding what works for you and using it to your advantage. Let me Know how you got on with the recommendations and books and I hope you enjoyed this blog post.

Happy reading guys.

Lots of love Katie xx

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