About half of all teens in the United States describe themselves as shy. So how do you know if you are just shy, or if you have an anxiety related issue? How do you know if it's time to ask for help?
The best answer is that you know best if your shyness is interfering with your life. You know if it is causing you to avoid new experiences and limiting your healthy interactions with other people. It is a good idea to ask for help if you want to socialize more, but feel too anxious or panicked by the idea. If you feel intense fear of how you will be judged, dread social events weeks before they happen, struggle with your grades due to social worries, and/or feel nervous, sweaty or shaky in social situations, ask your family or teachers/counselors for advice.
Being shy usually just means some reluctance to be in social situations, or taking longer than average to warm up to new people. Most teens feel shy at least once in a while, but typically they can find a way to enjoy participating in social interactions.
As we've discussed, it is important to have social interactions with others. In my Daily Practice section, I have a number of tools you can use to help you to stay calm and grounded if this is difficult for you. Here are some things you can try if you struggle with anxiety:
1. Lazy 8 Breathing: Simply trace your finger in the shape of an 8, breathing in on the first loop and out on the second. Deep breathing is one of the most well researched, time proven ways to help reduce anxiety and panic. You don't even have to believe it will work - you just have to do it. Due to your body's response to deep breathing patterns, with practice this technique will always help. Practice this breathing when you are calm at least 1x daily.
2. 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding: If you are feeling extra anxious or panicked, try this grounding technique. A grounding technique is one that helps your mind return to the present moment. This helps because worries are things that occur in the future. Use your senses to help you fully experience the moment you are in.
3. Gratitude: Gratitude can be a very powerful, positive influence. Try this practice, called hand-to-heart...or try one of the many gratitude practices available online.