Music therapy has proved to help people with various psychological conditions, from depression and anxiety to autism. Social anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in South Africa. According to recent research, the lifetime incidence of a social anxiety disorder (SAD) in South African adults is approximately 2.8%. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) estimates that at least one in every five South Africans undergo some form of anxiety, social anxiety being one of them. The statistics are even more staggering when you consider that social anxiety is often underreported or misdiagnosed, meaning the numbers are higher than what’s reported. Nevertheless, if you are struggling with social anxiety, there is hope – music therapy can help.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by fear and avoidance of social situations. For example, people with social anxiety can become anxious about being judged, rejected, or embarrassed in front of others. They may also feel self-conscious or uncomfortable speaking to people they don’t know very well because they are afraid their words will be impolite, inappropriate, or stupid.
This disorder is more than just shyness or introversion. A person might even avoid going out altogether if he feels overwhelmed with the idea of interacting with unfamiliar faces – it is not unusual for someone struggling with SAD to miss work or school as a result! In some cases, this phobia can lead to depression or even suicidal thoughts when left untreated for long periods.
How Does Social Anxiety Affect Someone?
Social anxiety disorder can be debilitating, and you may find yourself withdrawing from others to avoid judgment, criticism, and embarrassment. People with this condition feel an intense fear when performing in public or speaking before groups at work or school. They often have difficulty making eye contact and suffer feelings of inferiority and self-consciousness around other people, avoiding any social interaction outside their immediate family circle. As you can imagine, living with this kind of anxiety every day makes it difficult to function at home and work—but music therapy may be able to help relieve some symptoms.
How Does Music Therapy Help in Combating Social Anxiety?
Many people think of music as a hobby or a way to relax. However, there’s more to it than that. Music is a powerful healing tool that we can use to help ease the symptoms of social anxiety. This form of treatment is usually used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or talk therapies.
This approach helps people struggling to combat their social anxiety disorder by challenging negative thinking patterns and teaching them new ways to cope with the condition. The soothing melodies and rhythms have been shown to reduce anxiety levels, soothe frayed nerves, and boost moods. In addition, music therapy has also been shown to improve communication skills, increase social interaction time with others, and even enhance memory recall.
One of the most effective ways to use music therapy for social anxiety is making melodies or learning to play an instrument. Online resources such as apps for guitar learning can help you develop your instrument playing skills quickly and easily. In addition, creating songs using assigned lyrics, themes, and time limits (or free-style) allows you to express what’s in your heart without worrying about criticism. Besides, this form of treatment is a great way to help you unwind and feel less stressed, positively affecting your psyche.
Listening to music
The therapeutic benefits of listening are well documented; when combined with calming tunes that reflect on your emotions. It can help alleviate feelings of depression and stress – two common co-existing conditions linked with social anxiety disorder.
The key is finding the correct type of music that inspires positive thoughts within you—so spend some time doing research.
Group singing sessions
Being able to sing along with others gives people the opportunity to learn how specific sounds and rhythms affect them emotionally and physically. This activity also helps improve self-confidence by allowing you to take control of your voice. After all, nobody likes listening to somebody who cannot carry a tune well enough for it not to sound terrible at least once in a while.
Improvisation exercises – with musical instruments
Music improvisation improves areas of your brain associated with problem-solving and creativity, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety. When combined with different melodies and tempos, it allows you to express yourself while controlling your emotions. This technique assists people struggling with social anxiety because it will enable them to practice expressing themselves in a safe environment which can be very helpful for their confidence levels. You can learn how to improvise through online tutorials or enrol in a local music class. You can also try out improvisation with a friend or family member and see how it works for you.
By practising these techniques regularly, people who have social anxiety disorder will see significant improvements in their quality of life. They might even begin participating in activities they never thought possible before—talk about a win-win situation. When practising music therapy techniques for social anxiety disorder, remember: no two people will respond the same way, so try various methods until you find what works best—and stick with it.
People with social anxiety can feel stuck in a rut and that nobody understands what it’s like to be them – but the truth is, we all struggle. While there isn’t one quick fix for this condition, music therapy has been proven time and again as an effective treatment option—so why not give it a try? By allowing yourself time each day for this sort of treatment, you improve your overall mood and outlook on life, which can help build up your courage enough to try new things—and who knows where that might lead?
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Article by: Kylee Rivers
Other images: Pixabay