This is my first post here and just wanted to share how exercise played a vital role in helping me to overcome my social anxiety.
Without delving too much into my history and the reasons 'why' my anxiety started (which I dont think does much good anyway), in my twentys I spent a lot of time sitting around at home where I felt safe, rather than run the gauntlet of people's stares when going to the shops or meeting friends. I guess you could say I was coping, but I wasnt happy and work was an endless struggle of trying to get through the week with as minimal human contact as possible.
Eventually I reached a point where I thought I could either continue 'standing still' in life or try and do something about my anxious thoughts and feelings that were holding me back. So after a failed visit to the doctor (who just prescribed me beta blockers to calm me down) I decided to do my own research.
Discovering CBT was like someone switching on the light, realising it was inaccurate thoughts driving my anxiety rather than the actual world itself. I'm sure readers know enough about CBT already, so I wont blather on about it.
Anyway, what also really helped me was starting a daily exercise routine. First of all I exercised at home, then progressed to runs around the block. Eventually I was running for an hour every day, which worked wonders in terms of putting me on the path of taking small steps towards beating SAD. Getting out of the house more and pounding some pavement helped me to start reassessing how I viewed the outside world and the people around me. As time went on my exercise routine progressed to where I started taking on other activities, like rock climbing, 'extreme' trekking (i.e. bouldering), going to the gym (which I couldnt have imagined doing a few years ago) and scuba diving.
Suffice to say, with all these hobbies and interests that sport has given me I've been able to reduce my anxiety to a point where it doesnt restrict my life. I can still get anxious from time to time. But SAD no longer stops me going where I want or doing what I want to do.
I hope my story can be of some comfort to other members here that there is light at the end of the tunnel if you're prepared to start taking small steps towards it.
With SAD being a topic close to my heart, I've created a social anxiety website with articles and advice on the other tactics that helped me overcome SAD:http://socialanxietydisorder.org.uk/. I get a lot of great feedback from readers, so I hope other members at anxietytribe might find it of helpful.
All the best in your journey,