It is important to know that anxiety is not dangerous and you are not alone in sometimes feeling anxiety. How anxiety is experienced differs from person to person but it usually disappears after a while, by itself.
It is common to feel that the anxious feelings will continue to increase without a stop, which is not true. Anxiety is a natural reaction to a threat with the function to protect us from danger.
A sudden feeling of anxiety is called a panic attack. Panic attacks often come without a clear external threat. Instead, it is the brain that misinterprets the situation or the body's signals. It is also common for panic attacks to be triggered by stress. A panic attack can therefore be a signal that you need to slow down and make room for recovery.
Even if anxiety is not dangerous it can affect one's life to have it often during a long period. If so, you might need help to feel better.
- Accept that you are worried. To feel anxious or scared is normal and part of our survival. Try to talk to yourself in the same friendly and reassuring way that you would to a friend. Remember that all emotions are ok to feel.
- Try to pause, note your thoughts, and put words to what you are thinking. Remind yourself that a thought is just a thought. Everything we think will not happen in reality. If we believe in everything we think it can lead to catastrophising, which makes us even more frightened and worried.
- Talk to others about your concerns.
- Try to change focus by doing things that make you feel good and make you think of something else. For example, talk to friends and family, read a book, listen to music, work out or be out in nature.
- Focus on things that you can control and take care of yourself by maintaining good habits and being physically active.
- Practice your ability to in the present. It can help you choose where you want to focus. Try, for example, to note things in the environment with the help of your senses: notice three sounds you hear, notice three things you see, touch three things. You can also do a breathing exercise.
There can be a fine line between having normal anxiety and excessive worry. If your anxiety becomes difficult to handle and/or is hindering you in your everyday life, it is important to seek professional help.
Having anxiety and feeling anxious in social situations can happen to us all. The fear can lead to avoidance of certain situations and stop you from meeting other people. Avoiding doing difficult things usually feels good in the moment, but makes the anxiety worse in the long run.
If you are an international student, it can be hard to know what is expected of you in different situations and what behaviours are culturally accepted. It is important to remember that we are all different. Some of us are more introverted, and others are more extroverted than others. To feel some kind of social insecurity or shyness does not have to be a problem. On the other hand, if your social anxiety becomes an obstacle in your everyday life, you should seek help.