8 Can’t-Miss Tips for Surviving Spring Allergies in Tennessee

Spring in Tennessee means budding flowers, warmer weather and more often than not, sneezing and sniffling. With all of the state’s major cities ranked in the top 25 of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s nationwide list of “Allergy Capitals,” Tennessee is one of the most challenging places to live if you’re susceptible to spring allergies.

Pollen released from grass, trees, and plants as they are budding usually causes spring allergies, also called seasonal allergies. But allergies in Tennessee can drag on longer because of its relatively long growing season, according to The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.

This handy guide can help you with what to do before and during allergy season to avoid — or at least minimize — all the sniffling, coughing and sneezing.

How to Prepare for Allergy Season

Before the season hits this year, these tips can help you reduce your risk of a major allergy attack:

  • Enact a year-round “no shoes in the house” policy to keep dirt, dust and pollen from shoes out of the house.
  • Plan your gardening projects for early spring after the last frost but before budding begins.
  • Delegate lawn-mowing jobs to someone with no seasonal allergies.
  • Invest in a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove pollen and other allergens from your house.
  • Invest in a vacuum cleaner that accommodates a HEPA filter to trap allergens from floors and surfaces in the canister.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your allergy symptoms and get help.


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What to Ask Your Doctor About Your Allergies

When you see your doctor about your allergies, you’ll want to ask these questions, as suggested by the National Institutes of Health:

  • Should I take an allergy test?
  • What recommendation do you have for treatment?
  • Should I use any over-the-counter medications such as nasal spray?
  • Does the medication cause any side effects that could make me feel worse?
  • How effective are allergy shots? What are the side effects?
  • Should I avoid exercising outdoors?

How to Manage the Day-to-Day Allergy Battle

These tips will help you deal with the daily struggle.

  • Avoid air-drying laundry outside during pollen season as it can stick to bedding and clothing.
  • Check your local weather for the pollen count and any weather specifics such as wind that can whip up allergies.
  • Keep doors and windows closed during high pollen counts and instead rely on an air-conditioning system with high-efficiency filters to circulate and clean indoor air.
  • If exercising outdoors, try it at night when pollen counts are lowest.
  • Wear a face mask if you have to be outdoors during high pollen counts.
  • Vacuum often using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and be sure to have someone else empty the canister.
  • During spring, rinse your nose daily with a saline spray to remove mucus and allergens from your nose, so you don’t continue to breathe them in.
  • Drink lots of water to keep mucous membranes around your mouth, nose and eyes properly lubricated to reduce irritation from rubbing, sniffling, coughing and sneezing.

While spring allergies might be inevitable, a few steps can make the springtime more enjoyable for those most susceptible.

Naomi Mannino is a health and personal finance journalist who specializes in helping consumers get the most from their health and financial choices. She enjoys sharing her personal experiences and never writes about anything she has not tried herself. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomimannino.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

How to Maintain Your Friendships During Pregnancy

Having a baby not only changes your life, but also your friendships. Here are some tips on how to maintain friendships through pregnancy and remain supportive on both sides.

When Someone Doesn’t React Well

Whether you’re pregnant or someone else is, it’s common to have feelings other than joy. Learning about another person’s pregnancy can trigger strong emotions – and that’s usually not about the pregnant woman herself.

Perhaps your friend struggles with infertility, so your pregnancy reminds her of her own struggles. If a friend seems distracted at the news, it’s okay to ask if something’s bothering her and then reassure her you’re not taking it personally.

On the other hand, if a friend’s pregnancy brings up tough feelings for you, be honest. Tell her you’re happy for her, but you’re having a reaction based on your own circumstances and may need time to process your feelings. A good friend should understand.

What Should You Say (or Not Say)?

Women don’t always appreciate advice related to their pregnancy. If a pregnant woman wants to hear opinions on breastfeeding or potential names, she’ll ask. Otherwise, smile and keep your lips sealed. What if you’re pregnant, and someone is giving you advice? Nodding and saying “Thank you” or “We’re not ready to discuss that right now” is a great way to acknowledge someone’s words without starting an argument. Then politely switch subjects.

Having a baby? Learn more about what to expect during maternity.*

Activities to Do With a Pregnant Friend

In addition to a growing belly, pregnancy brings a host of physical changes that will most likely affect the activities you can do together. Not only is an evening at the bar less enjoyable for a woman sipping soda instead of chardonnay, but the smells, noise levels and high stools can be irritating or uncomfortable.

Pregnant women get tired easily. They may not want to stay out late or have the energy to do a marathon shopping spree. Pregnant women may experience hormonal changes, which can mean emotional instability, according to the Mayo Clinic, so proceed to tearjerker movies with caution. When planning activities with a pregnant friend, ask her how she is feeling and what she wants to do.

Consider going to an exercise class together, like pilates or yoga. You can also sign up for a meal preparation program, like the one offered through Super Suppers or host a freezer meal workshop with a Pampered Chef or Wildtree representative. You’ll prep meals you freeze and store until after baby comes, which is fun and helpful for the mom-to-be.

As you or your friends go through this life-changing experience, learning how to maintain friendships through pregnancy is important. Share your feelings in a kind but honest way. It’s important for you both to feel supported and keep those friendships strong.

Deborah Abrams Kaplan is a health and medical writer who works at a standing desk. She believes that everyone should take charge of their own healthcare and not be afraid to ask questions. She hopes that her writing empowers people to do that. You can see more of Deborah’s work on her website, and follow her on Twitter @friscokids.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Vision Care Tips for the Whole Family

Living in Tennessee, you’ll want to be able to see all the beautiful things around you, including the vistas of the Smoky Mountains to the caves of Ruby Falls and the wildflowers Short Springs Natural Area. Here are some health tips to keep your vision in top shape for years to come.

How Often Should You Get Your Eyes Checked?

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends children get their first eye exam at six months and again at three years of age. After first grade, schedule an exam at least every two years.

If you don’t need eye correction as an adult, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends full examinations once in your 20s and twice in your 30s. The AAO also recommends adults with no eye disease risk factors get a baseline eye screening for eye diseases at age 40.

People approaching middle age might find that reading a restaurant menu is getting more difficult, as the development of eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and ocular tumors becomes more common as we age. From ages 40-64, have your eyes checked every two to four years. Adults age 65 or older should head to the eye doctor every 1 to 2 years.

Learn more about healthy living.*

What’s the Youngest Age You Can Get Contact Lenses?

Your ophthalmologist may have a recommended age, usually around 10 to 12, says the AOA. However, it varies by child and doctor. Before allowing your child to get contact lenses, consider if your child is ready for them. How well does he or she handle responsibility? Does he or she have good personal hygiene habits?

Taking care of contacts can be a big task for preteens, so try a trial period to see how your child does. (Keep a pair of glasses handy just in case your child finds he or she doesn’t like contacts.)

How Can I Protect My Eyes?

Protecting your vision is easier than you think. These eye health tips can keep your eyes in good shape:

  • Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses protect your eyes from direct sunlight that can cause retina problems and cataract development.
  • Safety comes first. Prevent eye injuries by wearing safety glasses when playing sports or doing home improvement projects.
  • Eat the right foods. You’ve been told that eating carrots can help save your vision, but make sure you’re consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables and foods with omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) as well. Foods that contain zinc and vitamins C and E help prevent age-related macular degeneration.
  • Take breaks. Prevent eye fatigue that comes with staring at a computer or phone screen by taking a break every 20 minutes to look in the distance.

Deborah Abrams Kaplan is a health and medical writer who works at a standing desk. She believes that everyone should take charge of their own healthcare and not be afraid to ask questions. She hopes that her writing empowers people to do that. You can see more of Deborah’s work on her website, and follow her on Twitter @friscokids.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Why It’s Time to Bust These Stress Myths

We’re all familiar with stress. Considering how common it is in modern life, we’ve also probably heard a few common misconceptions about stress as well. These misconceptions can hold us back in effectively treating the stress in our lives.

Here are some myths about stress and some ways you can manage it better.

Myth 1: Stress is “just a feeling”

Although we often say that we “feel stressed,” stress itself is more than a feeling. Stress is the physical or mental pressure you feel when faced with a situation that is new, unpleasant or threatening. Stress is not something to write off as “just a feeling.”

When left untreated for extended periods of time, it can negatively impact your health just like smoking or obesity. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and depression are all serious health issues that are often caused by untreated stress.

Myth 2: No symptoms = no stress

It’s a myth that only major symptoms of stress are cause for concern. According to Mayo Clinic, stress may impact your health without you even realizing it. Many minor stress symptoms, such as headaches and indigestion, are easily confused with illness.

Whether you experience irritability, physical aches or sleep deprivation, our brains create patterns of behavior that determine our own automatic reaction to stress. Because that pattern is different for each of us, the way we react to stress even the symptoms of stress we exhibit can be completely different from one person to the next.

Learn more about managing health conditions.*

Myth 3: Stress is uncontrollable

Because it’s impossible to control every aspect of our lives, we cannot completely avoid stress and the things that cause it. As mentioned above, stress is an automatic reaction and although we can’t entirely escape it, we can effectively manage stress in three easy steps:

  1. Identify your stressors. Take time to pinpoint what causes stress in your life. Common stressors include work, finances and relationships, but remember that stressors are different for everyone. Whenever you begin to experience stress, the American Psychological Association suggests writing down the cause, your thoughts and your mood. By keeping a written record, you will be better able to identify what causes stress in your life and develop a plan to address it.
  1. Recognize your reaction. How does your mood change when you’re stressed? Some people feel more irritable or anxious. What do you do to relieve stress? Common reactions include emotional eating or consuming more caffeine. Whatever your reaction to stress, it’s crucial that you consciously recognize this reaction before you can effectively change it.
  1. Change your response. Once you have identified your stressors and recognized your reaction, you can begin to train your brain to react differently to stress. Whether it’s working out, visiting with friends or meditation, find what helps you to relax. Replace a negative automatic reaction with one of these positive stress-relieving activities and eventually the brain will change its automatic response pattern.

Lastly, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a large part of managing stress. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and strive to get enough sleep each night. Studies show that laughter effectively relieves stress, so make it a priority to spend quality time with family and friends. Although we can’t completely avoid stress, developing these healthy habits can prevent stress from becoming a problem in your life.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

4 Steps You Can Take Today to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Maybe you’ve just gotten home from a day at the office, or spent the day working in the yard. Either way you come inside at the end of the day and find yourself thinking, “Oh, my back!” Lower back pain is one of the most common medical problems today, affecting nearly 80% of adults at some point during their lives.

There are two classifications of back pain: acute and chronic. Acute lower back pain is short-term pain that can last from a few days to several weeks, whereas chronic lower back lasts for more than three months.

Prevent lower back pain by following these four simple steps:

Stand tall

Many people have a tendency to slouch when they are standing. Slouching causes stress on the muscles and ligaments in your back, resulting in both lower back pain and headaches among other health problems.

In order to maintain proper posture while standing, you should always remember to:

  • Keep your shoulders pulled back allowing your hands to rest by your side.
  • Align your feet with your hips, and pull your abdomen in so that it is firm.
  • Relax your knees, and balance your weight equally on both feet.

The wall test can help you get an idea of how you should be standing if you want to maintain proper posture.

Sit straight

Whether you work from home or in an office building, it is important to have a work environment that allows you to maintain proper sitting posture.

While sitting, you should have both feet on the ground while keeping your knees level with your hips. Your back should rest against the chair so you can keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight. Your shoulders should be relaxed, and your head should be stretched towards the ceiling.

For extra support, you can place a small pillow or towel behind your lower back to help maintain its natural curve.

Lift properly

Using improper techniques while lifting heavy objects is one of the most common factors contributing to the development of low back pain. When lifting heavy items, you should keep your back straight while bending at the waist with your knees close to the floor so that you use your knees instead of your back to lift the package. Hold the item as close to your body as possible. Remember to check the weight of the item first, and if it is too heavy for you to lift on your own ask for help.

Exercise often

Taking a few minutes every day to stretch and fit in a few strengthening exercises can help prevent back pain by strengthening the muscles and ligaments in your back.

When you don’t have time to make it to the gym or fit an at-home workout into your busy schedule, you can take a few minutes before you go to bed to practice some yoga moves. Yoga can help reduce muscle tension and build muscle strength, both of which can help reduce your chances of developing lower back pain.

Although lower back pain is common in most adults, maintaining proper posture and being mindful of the strain you place on your back can help prevent further injury in the future.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

What Everyone Should Know About Seasonal Depression

Feeling down this time of year? You’re not alone. During the winter months, many people find that colder temperatures and less daylight hours have a negative effect on their mood and energy levels.

If this sounds familiar, it’s extremely important to identify the extent to which you’re experiencing these feelings in order to effectively manage and treat them. Here’s how to tell the difference between the “winter blues” Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and ongoing depression.

Winter Blues vs. SAD

The winter blues are extremely common, especially in the months following the holiday season. The return to our regular routines and the arrival of December’s credit card bill can leave us feeling stressed, unhappy and unmotivated.

People experiencing the winter blues may find themselves wanting to stay inside longer, stay in bed longer and eat more carbohydrates.

SAD is a more severe version of the winter blues. People battling SAD often experience the same symptoms as those associated with the winter blues but to a more extreme degree.

The difference between the blues and SAD is the blues will go away with the right self-care while SAD may require treatment by a medical professional. However, there are some things you can do on your own to help treat the winter blues as well as alleviate the symptoms of SAD.

Dr. Jill Amos, Principal Clinical Psychologist for BlueCare of Tennessee, has provided some tips for managing these conditions:

  • Increase light exposure. Get as much sun as possible. If the weather permits, go outside and walk with a friend. If it’s too cold, open the blinds and sit next to a window. Even on cloudy days, the exposure to natural light can still help to improve your mood.
  • Eat right. Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Unhealthy choices, like cake and cookies, may provide temporary pleasure, but can have a negative effect on mood in the long run. Curb your cravings by making a dessert that uses seasonal fresh fruits, like apples or pears.
  • Stay active. If you know you struggle during the winter months, be proactive and schedule enjoyable activities with family and friends. Invite a loved one to go on a hike or volunteer with you for an afternoon.

If you notice a friend or family member is exhibiting signs of the winter blues or SAD, Dr. Amos suggests setting aside one-on-one time with them to discuss how they are doing and, if necessary, offering to join them to talk with a doctor or therapist.

Learn more about managing health conditions.*


Unlike the winter blues and SAD, the symptoms of depression are not limited to a specific time of year. An individual suffering from depression will likely experience many of the symptoms associated with the winter blues and SAD, but during the spring, summer and fall months as well.

Other signs of depression include unexplained aches or pains, decreased productivity, alcohol or drug abuse and an overall loss of interest in daily life.

Not all depression is the same. The severity and duration of symptoms can vary depending on the type of depression as well as the person’s age and gender. Seek the advice of a medical professional if you believe that you or someone you know is suffering from depression.

Everyone has bad days, and feeling sad from time to time is a normal part of life. By knowing how to identify the type of sadness you’re experiencing, you’ll be able to determine your best treatment options and be on your way to a happier and healthier you.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Managing Asthma with Your Diet

Did you know that eating a more balanced diet can do more than just slim your waistline? It could help you breathe better, too. If you have asthma, research has shown that certain foods can open restricted airways and reduce inflammation.

Here’s a list of foods that could help you manage your asthma:

Follow a Mediterranean Diet

You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts. Absent from this list are red meat, margarine and processed foods, according to EatingWell, as they contain the saturated fat that interferes with blood flow.

Items in the Mediterranean diet also have anti-inflammatory properties, which is important for those suffering from asthma since it’s a disease of lung inflammation. Look for freshly grown vegetables and fruits from your local farmers’ market this fall, such as beets, carrots, kale and apples.

Get Vitamins with Fruits and Vegetables

By eating a range of fruits and vegetables, you’ll get an ample amount of vitamins. Mayo Clinic suggests those who receive higher servings of vitamin C, Vitamin D, beta-carotene and vitamin E have fewer symptoms of asthma.

For Vitamin D, local eggs and milk are good sources as well. Of course, you can also consider omega-3 fatty acids, too, which Reader’s Digest says you can find in many kinds of fish in your area: Lake trout contains a high concentration of them, whereas catfish and bass also have it to a lesser extent.

Learn more about managing health conditions.*

Add Ginger

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, ginger may also work as an herbal medication to help manage common asthma symptoms. It’s believed that ginger can help decrease lung inflammation due to the high levels of antioxidants in this plant. Add it as an ingredient to the fresh foods you’re already making, or boil it with water to make tea.

Consider Flaxseeds

These small seeds pack a big nutritional punch. Flaxseeds not only contain protein, fiber and Omega-3 essential fatty acids but also magnesium, which has been shown to relax the muscles of the airway.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Learn the Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Contrary to popular belief, more women than men die of heart disease each year, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of heart disease in women are often more subtle than men.

Men are much more likely to show and experience unmistakable symptoms when suffering a heart attack — such as intense chest pain and trouble breathing.

But for women, symptoms of a cardiac problem can be very different. A woman may not even experience obvious chest pain during a heart attack.

Why the Difference?

A heart attack occurs when there’s a decrease in blood and oxygen to the heart because of a clogged artery. Blood flow may even become cut off entirely. Arteries can become clogged over time due to coronary artery disease, which is a buildup of fat, cholesterol and plaque.

In women with heart disease, the body’s main arteries experience blockage just like in the smaller peripheral arteries, in a condition called microvascular disease. Because of this, heart attacks can feel different to women than men. Instead of sharp, stabbing pain in the upper chest, they may feel increasing pressure or fullness in a woman’s lower chest or upper abdomen.

Women often mistakenly assume these symptoms to be a result of the flu, acid reflux or just getting older — causing heart attacks to go unnoticed. Without quick action, however, extensive damage can occur to a woman’s cardiovascular system and lead to other long-term health problems.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

It’s important for women to know beforehand how heart attacks might feel. According to The American Heart Association, common symptoms of heart attacks for women are:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest pain
  • Discomfort in either arm
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Unusual fatigue

Learn more about managing health conditions.*

Know the Symptoms to Save Your Heart

Because women don’t always recognize what’s happening during a heart attack, their cardiovascular systems can suffer damage during the event itself. Women also tend to downplay what’s happening to their bodies and wait until it’s too late to seek medical treatment.

If you think you’re experiencing a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. Never try to drive yourself.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Women

High blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity can lead to coronary artery disease in both men and women, but women are more prone to other factors, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Emotional stress and depression
  • Feeling the urge to smoke
  • A lack of physical activity
  • Decreased estrogen following menopause
  • High blood pressure or gestational diabetes during pregnancy

If you find that you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease, talk to you doctor for recommendations on adopting a heart healthy lifestyle.

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

6 Tips for Managing Adult ADHD

When many people think of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), images of a child who struggles to pay attention at school or can’t seem to sit still at the dinner table may come to mind. But ADHD isn’t just a child’s disorder. Nearly 5 percent of adults in the United States have the condition as well.

Symptoms of ADHD differ for adults and are often more subtle than those in children. According to Health, adults with ADHD often have trouble with organization, engage in impulsive behavior and struggle to complete tasks at home and work.

ADHD in adults should always be supervised and managed by a doctor, but here are some tips to help manage the condition.

Get Yourself Organized

Attention disorders are all about organization, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fortunately for communities with so many technological devices available, leading a more organized life is just a click away.

Use digital calendar books, apps for list-making or those offering flow charts — like XMind or Popplet — to organize your thoughts. List-making can set up your plan for the day, but also break down larger tasks into smaller steps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. If you think more efficiently through old-fashioned pen and paper, you can always use a planner or notebook for your calendar and reminders.

Make Lists

List-making can set up your plan for the day, but only if you make lists in a way that isn’t daunting. Keep to-do lists brief, no more than five items, and cross tasks off as you finish them so you can feel accomplished and less frustrated. Consider breaking down larger tasks into smaller steps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

A Helping Hand

ADHD in adults can strain your relationships, and admitting your condition to friends and supervisors can be embarrassing. But honesty in advance can help defuse more difficult situations later. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help or confide in them during times when you feel yourself struggling with common ADHD symptoms.

If you need a little extra support outside your circle of friends and family, professional therapy can help develop skills to minimize impulsive or irrational behaviors. In addition to counseling, support groups can also help fill in the gaps between appointments. You can also approach ADD/ADHD coaches to help you hone more practical coping skills.

Impulse Control

Additude magazine offers a few pointers for exercising impulse control, particularly on checking yourself before you respond to things with poorly chosen words. Here are a few techniques to delay your reactions while you think things through:

  • Try placing your finger over your mouth to halt impulses while considering your response.
  • Paraphrase what the speaker said to you before replying.
  • Practice speaking slowly in a mirror, so you have more time to think about the words coming out.

Avoid Overstimulation

If you suffer from ADHD, drinking espresso, energy drinks or other sugar-laden foods to stay focused is probably not the best idea, according to Healthline. Not only should you avoid chemical stimulants like caffeine or excessive sugar, but chaotic situations may overload your senses as well. Big crowds in settings such as amusements parks and concerts may be a little more than you can handle.

Stress and lack of sleep can also aggravate ADHD symptoms; explore natural techniques to cope with this discomfort, such as meditation and yoga.

Living with ADHD can be a challenge. Embracing organizational techniques or support systems and avoiding overstimulation can get you on your way to a happier and more productive life.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Living with Social Anxiety: Tips and Advice

The majority of us get nervous before a first date, job interview or important presentation. But if everyday interactions with others fill you with dread or fear, you may have social anxiety.

About 12.9 million adults in the US suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Of those, 2.2 million have social anxiety or social phobia, a disorder characterized by fear of interaction with other people and being judged in social situations.

Social phobia may interfere with a person’s job, relationships, and general enjoyment of life. Left untreated, it can lead to low self-esteem, poor communication skills, low achievement levels, substance abuse, suicide or other serious mental health conditions.

How to Tell If You Have Social Anxiety

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of social anxiety may include:

Emotional/behavioral symptoms:

  • Fear of situations in which you might embarrass yourself or be judged
  • Intense fear of interacting with strangers
  • Avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention
  • Feeling anxious or fearful about upcoming social activities
  • Analyzing your performance after social interactions

Physical symptoms:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Confusion or feeling “out of body”

It’s important to note that people often confuse social anxiety with introversion. Introverted people are energized by solitude and quiet reflection. They prefer doing things alone or with small groups of close friends.

Introverts might display similar behaviors to people with social anxiety – such as avoiding large social gatherings – but they do so because of personal preference, not because of intense anxiety or fear.

Tips for Living with Social Anxiety

Although avoiding social situations may provide temporary relief, social anxiety disorders usually require treatment from a mental health expert to see long-term results. If you exhibit symptoms that interfere with your daily life, talk to your doctor about medications and counseling options.

Also consider these self-help techniques:

  1. Live a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and get enough sleep. Eat a well-balanced diet. Avoid alcohol and limit caffeine intake. Try relaxation exercises and other stress-management techniques.
  2. Slowly face your fears. Determine which social situations make you feel most anxious and practice these activities to build coping skills. Start with more manageable outings, such as dinner in public with a close relative or friend. Prepare for the conversation in advance. Read the newspaper or check your dinner companion’s social media profiles to find conversation starters.
  3. Practice minor interactions with strangers. Make eye contact with someone you pass on the street. Compliment the cashier at the grocery store. Ask a stranger for directions.
  4. Build your self-esteem. Focus on what you like about yourself. Set realistic goals and celebrate your achievements. In social situations, notice how often the embarrassing situations you fear actually occur. It probably happens less often than you think. When you do get embarrassed, remind yourself that your feelings are normal and will pass — and that you can handle them until they do.

To learn more about how to deal with social anxiety, talk to your primary care physician or mental health care provider.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.