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Sweating Anxiety: Tips to Help You Cope

Updated on December 2, 2010
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Anxiety and Sweating: Practical Advice

It's a classic vicious circle: you're anxious because you sweat, and you sweat because you're anxious. You can't work out which is feeding which, and so round and round it goes and there you are in a whirl of anxiety and panic.

I suffer from social anxiety and I sweat. Some people sweat under their armpits, but I don't too badly. I sweat on my face, where everyone can see it and there's no way to cover it up. Ugh. Then I feel put on the spot; all the attention's on me, and it just makes me sweat even more. Before I know it, I'm a dripping mess, red with embarrassment and feeling utterly humiliated.

But there are ways you can overcome anxiety and sweating. If you're depressive or suffer from a mental disorder such as social anxiety disorder (SAD), your doctor may prescribe medication to help. Counselling can help you identify why you feel the way you do and give you ways to transform your thinking. And then there are the practical steps you can take to overcome anxiety and control sweating. Read on for some suggestions.

Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

Breathing exercises can help you calm down in the middle of an anxiety attack or can prepare you before you go out. Sit in a comfortable place, shut your eyes and breathe in for about three seconds through your nose, then out for about six seconds through your mouth. Put your hand on your stomach and focus on your breathing. You'll begin to feel more relaxed.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Don't be strangled in that tie or stifled in that sweater if it's going to make you hot and uncomfortable. Wear loose clothing that gives your body plenty of room to breathe.

Take a Break to Calm Down

If you're in a social situation that's making you anxious, don't sit there letting your mind spiral into a blind panic. Excuse yourself and step outside to get some fresh air, or take a bathroom trip to wash your face. Sit or stand somewhere quiet and take a few deep breaths until you're ready to confront the situation again.

Tell People You're Anxious

I often tell people straight out: "Sorry -- I have social anxiety and it makes me really nervous." I don't feel so bad then about taking out my handkerchief and mopping my brow. It gets the issue out in the open, and gets me over the first hurdle of embarrassment early on. It takes a burst of bravery to make the admission, but once it's done, you'll feel a burden's been lifted.

Take Control of the Situation

Be assertive in a social situation if you think you might be uncomfortable. Perhaps, like me, you feel anxious -- trapped and claustrophobic -- if you're placed between two people at a table. Take control and say to the host, "Could I sit at this end of the table, please? I'd be more comfortable there." Feeling you have power over the situation can make a big difference to your mental attitude. Speak up and do what you feel is right for you, instead of suffering in silence in an awkward situation.

Get Out Regularly

Getting used to social situations is a major factor in being comfortable around others. If you're afraid to go out, take little trips each day so that social encounters are a more common occasion. Walk to the store or chat to a neighbour just to get out and keep in touch with the real world. The more you hide yourself away, the harder it becomes to get out; the more you get out, the better you become at addressing your fears and overcoming them.

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