Millions of Americans are treated for social anxiety every year. This experience is provoked by feeling disconnected from the kindness, patience, acceptance, and understanding of the people surrounding you. This sense of separation can come up at work, school, and family functions—even with people you know very well.
The fear of being judged is at the heart of social anxiety. This discomfort can convince you to avoid or flee from interactions that bring up feelings of insecurity and rejection.
Additionally, as technology adds distance to our way of communicating, it can become harder to be physically present for social interactions that challenge your sense of safety. It may feel easier—though not ultimately better—to hide.
In Chinese medicine, the Heart is the ruler of your inner kingdom.
It is highly sensitive to input from the outside world and can easily become disrupted by emotionally challenging situations. Once upset, the Heart can stay aflutter for a long time. You may literally feel your heart beating in your chest, be unable to sleep, or wish to physically hide from other people.
Anxiety is not just a mental phenomenon; it is a full-body experience. This is your Heart’s way of protecting you. Yet sometimes the Heart becomes over-stimulated and needs help finding a sense of safety.
What happens when you encourage the Heart to relax its vigilant grip?
The term “wearing you heart on your sleeve” means you are willing to be vulnerable to the outside world, even with the risk of rejection or failure. When the Heart spirit is healthy—meaning when it feels safe—it recognizes its connection to others. Instead of seeing danger, the Heart sees familiarity and warmth. Imagine peering into the eyes of a sweet dog or a beloved friend. It feels good to sense this connection, right?
One immediate way to work with social anxiety is to focus on your Heart center. To begin, imagine the warmth of your physical heart connecting with the warm heart of someone you know and trust. Then notice the sensations in your body. Pay attention to whether your breath deepens and your muscles relax. Maybe you even feel safe enough to smile during this exercise.
The Heart is not only the ruler of your inner kingdom, it is the lens through which you perceive the world.
A relaxed Heart connects you to the goodness of life.
My work with anxiety patients is built around the belief that physical relaxation opens us to emotional relaxation. Much like meditation or yoga, acupuncture settles your body so that your mind has a place to land.
If you’d like to explore how acupuncture can help with social anxiety, please call Boulder Acupuncture and Herbs today.