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Safety Behaviours! What are they and how are they linked with Social Anxiety?

Safety behaviours are strategies that people with social anxiety use to cope with their anxiety. They are designed to reduce the risk of embarrassment or other negative outcomes. However, safety behaviours can actually make social anxiety worse in the long run.

Safety behaviours can provide short-term relief from anxiety, but in the long run, they can actually make social anxiety worse. This is because they reinforce the idea that social situations are dangerous and that the person needs to use safety behaviours to protect themselves. Safety behaviours can also limit the person’s ability to learn new skills and become more comfortable in social situations. For example, if someone avoids eye contact, they won’t be able to practice making eye contact and become more comfortable with it.

What are Some Social Anxiety Safety Behaviours?

1. Avoiding Eye Contact: Avoiding eye contact when talking to others is a common safety behavior for those with social anxiety. It can help to reduce the fear of being judged or scrutinized by others.

2. Self-Monitoring: Self-monitoring is a safety behavior that involves constantly being aware of one’s own behavior and body language. This can help to reduce the fear of making a mistake or embarrassing oneself in social situations.

3. Rehearsing: Rehearsing is a safety behavior that involves mentally rehearsing what one is going to say before speaking in social situations. This can help to reduce the fear of saying something wrong or not being able to think of the right words.

4. Safety Person: Having a safety person present is a common safety behavior for those with social anxiety. Whenever feeling overwhelmed in a social setting, the person can call upon their safety person to help them calm down and/or provide them with the support they need.

5. Alcohol: Drinking alcohol is a safety behaviour that is used to reduce the symptoms of social anxiety, such as sweating, blushing, and racing thoughts.

How Can Safety Behaviours Be Reduced?

The best way to reduce safety behaviours is to gradually expose yourself to the situations that make you anxious, and not use the safety behaviour. This can be done through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or other forms of therapy. Therapy can help you to identify and challenge the thoughts and beliefs that are causing your anxiety. It can also help you to practice new skills and behaviours in a safe and supportive environment.

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