When dealing with social anxiety disorder (SAD), it might be challenging to manage the daily aspects of being a student at university. Aspects such as meeting new friends and attending classes would appear as detrimental. Much of university life is social, from approaching professors to finding new acquaintances and perhaps starting romances. Your experience could be impacted in every way if your SAD is not treated. Indeed, it can affect both your academic achievement and social activities.
Dealing with SAD
Treatment options for SAD include medication, therapy, or both. Getting the right diagnosis is crucial for managing this condition. You might find a mental health facility on the university campus if you are a student where support would be available. These frequently offer a range of services, such as individual and group therapy which are often offered free of charge.
As a university student, you can accomplish more while also undergoing treatment. As you move through treatment and start to feel more at ease in social situations, consider utilising these strategies below.
- Talk to a neighbouring classmate you feel comfortable with about homework or tests. Repeat this until it feels more natural to converse with more of your peers over time.
- Mention starting a study group or getting together for a social event. A person who appears hesitant or uneasy could be less intimidating if approached.
Body Language and Speech
- Make eye contact with other people frequently
- Maintain a calm but attentive stance
- Keep up with college news and current happenings
- Listen intently and offer open-ended questions starting with ‘why’ how’ ‘what’ & ’when’
Presenting in front of others
A lot of people experience anxiety before speaking in front of an audience. However, as they talk and become engaged with their subject and the audience, the initial uneasiness usually fades.
Having SAD typically often causes the reverse. They become focused on their anxiety symptoms, such as a shaking voice, dry lips, blushing, quick heartbeat, and feelings of dread, as they continue feeling anxious throughout their speech.
You can take several actions to help minimise the effects of anxiety:
- When possible, pick a subject that interests you so that you can enjoy sharing your knowledge
- To relieve some of the symptoms, try to engage the audience at the start of your presentation
You can start implementing some lifestyle coping mechanisms as well, such as:
A healthy mind and body can be maintained with regular exercise. Pick a hobby that you will stick with and find enjoyable. Try out a 30-day yoga challenge online, go for a walk or a jog, or stop by an on-campus fitness centre to join a class that would interest you.
The average diet of a student can be detrimental to one’s health. Try to eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day and try to stay away from sugar and caffeine as much as you can as they can make anxiety symptoms worse.
As a student with SAD, you will face more challenges while at university. However, your chances of having a fulfilling experience are high with the appropriate treatment and coping mechanisms. Take each day as it comes, be aware of your ideas, and concentrate on your goals for your academic achievement, establishing friends and personal development.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Charlot Cauchi is a Gestalt Psychotherapist at Willingness. He has experience working with adult clients with mental health difficulties, anxiety and depression, loss and grief, traumatic experiences, stress and relational issues.
ReferencesLee, J., Waldeck, D., Holliman, A., Banerjee, M., & Tyndall, I. (2022). Feeling Socially Anxious at University: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The Qualitative Report, 27(4), 897-919.