No Fear! How to Let Go of Social Anxiety and Enjoy Life Again


If you break out in a cold sweat over social interactions, you’re not alone. One recent research survey suggested that Covid lockdowns have led to a growing number of people experiencing loneliness and social anxiety symptoms.

Although it’s commonly believed that social anxiety is just shyness, it’s more accurate to describe it as a phobia. It can affect every aspect of a sufferer’s life, including their personal relationships and ability to function at work or school. 

If you suffer from social anxiety disorder, you may: 

  • Worry about everyday activities such as phone calls, work situations or going shopping
  • Fear social activities including conversations, parties, drinks with friends or colleagues
  • Obsess over what others think of you—fearing judgement, criticism or simply being observed
  • Experience physical symptoms such as sweating, lack of focus, hyper-vigilance, palpitations. Sometimes these symptoms may reach an uncomfortable peak, resembling a ‘panic attack’.

So, what happens in the nervous system when you suffer from social anxiety? 

Fight, flight, and freeze: During a stressful event, the emotional part of the brain sends a distress signal to the body. This releases stress hormones to help you ‘escape’ the threat and raises your blood pressure. Although the threat isn’t physical, social situations become a ‘trigger’ for anxiety.

If the nervous system is repeatedly triggered, then eventually social anxiety can become chronic. 

The good news is that with the right approaches, you can overcome social anxiety. 

The gut-brain connection

For example, did you know that looking after your gut is key to enjoying good mental health? You may have heard about hormones such as serotonin, and neurotransmitters such as GABA. These are important chemical messengers that regulate mood. However, these chemicals depend on the health of your microflora. For example, serotonin is made in the gut from the amino acid tryptophan. 

Legumes, leafy veggies, olive oil, sea vegetables and fermented foods are all great ways to nourish healthy intestinal flora and ensure good gut-brain communication. 

‘In Turkey, “kefir” means good feeling!’ Graham Botfield (Living Nutrition founder)

Aside from a good diet, are there other ways to manage social anxiety? 

CBT for anxiety: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a practical therapy that can help you prepare for challenging situations that make you feel anxious. It focuses on facing feelings and behaviours that make the problem worse. It also gives you exercises to change the emotional intensity behind difficult situations, enabling you to deal with social anxiety better. 

Live in the present: The past is behind you; the future is unwritten. When you’re feeling anxious, try this ‘open-focus brain’ exercise:

  • Stop what you are doing and bring your awareness to your body and breath. 
  • Take a few deep breaths, relaxing your shoulders and anywhere else you store tension.
  • Expand your awareness beyond your thoughts to what is going around you. Bring your attention gently back to what you can see, hear, and touch. 
  • Identify 3 things you can see, 3 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch. 

Now resume your previous task but take regular breaks to do this exercise and bring yourself back to the present moment. Practise it regularly throughout the day to build your emotional resilience. 

Do something physical: Physical exercise triggers natural endorphins and pumps the lymphatic circulation to deliver infection-fighting white blood cells around the body. It also drains away damaged cells, bacteria, and toxins. 

Avoid stimulants: Caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants can increase stress hormones. Enjoy an alternative made with medicinal mushrooms, or golden milk, white tea, or other superfoods to support your nervous system.  

Herbs and Foods for Anxiety: Well-known herbs such as lavender, lemon balm, ashwagandha, rhodiola, passion flower, chamomile all have calming, sedative and anti-anxiety properties. 

Try our Organic Fermented Tranquillity formula with lavender, lemon balm and ashwagandha to support a more positive mood when you need it.

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