Social anxiety devastates 15 million people in the United States alone. Most symptoms first appear in childhood although, it doesn’t have to last a lifetime.
Everyone has felt shy at times but those with social anxiety feel incapable of interacting with others.
It’s known as a social phobia, due to the overwhelming fear of people judging them or getting ridiculed in public. This fear makes them avoid parties, meeting new people, or speaking up in meetings.
Luckily, there are many different ways you can conquer social anxiety. So, don’t lose hope, because, with some effort, you can start enjoying social gatherings.
Here are seven tips for dealing with social anxiety if you or someone close to you has the condition:
1. Build your confidence
No matter who you are, it’s normal to feel a little bit of shyness from time to time. But if you find that it’s making you avoid others then it’s holding you back from living your best life. So, it’s time to do something about it.
Building your confidence will help lessen feelings of social anxiety.
Building your confidence is a process, but it’s well worth the effort. When you have confidence in yourself, you’ll be able to take on anything that comes your way. You’ll also be more likely to achieve your goals and reach your full potential.
So how do you build your confidence? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Identify your areas of self-doubt.
- Challenge your negative thoughts.
- Focus on your strengths.
- Set realistic goals.
- Have more self-compassion.
Confidence is something that everyone has to maintain throughout life. No one is born with it. We each have to build it. So, stop neglecting yourself and work on improving your confidence levels each day.
2. Don’t use alcohol as a crutch for social anxiety
Drinking alcohol to help calm your nerves before an event is not a good idea. It’s a depressant that can make things even worse. It makes you less inhibited, and that might sound like exactly what you need. However, it vastly increases the chances of you doing or saying something regrettable. Therefore, it’s more beneficial for you to avoid alcohol. Besides, you can’t live your life in a drunken stupor and think it’ll attract people.
3. Practice talking to strangers
You might just need more practice initiating conversations. Perhaps, you’ve been stuck in your comfort zone for years. Now, you need to push yourself to chat with new people. It is a great way to get used to socializing and it also helps you build confidence.
Choose low-pressure situations where no one expects you to engage in conversation. Also, you have the option to walk away if things get uncomfortable. For example, you can talk to the cashier at your local convenience store or the person next to you on the train. This is a great way to get used to talking to people and reduce your anxiety levels.
4. Talk to a therapist
If your anxiety is crippling then help yourself out by talking to a therapist. A therapist will be able to understand your anxieties and guide you to manage them. There’s a variety of therapies for social anxiety, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic therapy, and Exposure therapy.
Exposure therapy involves you gradually facing your fears until they don’t bother you anymore. For example, if you are afraid of public speaking, you can start by giving a short talk in front of a few people and then gradually build up to giving a speech in front of a large crowd.
ACT or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy focuses on using mindfulness and self-acceptance to deal with anxiety.
5. Use (free) social anxiety apps
If you hate the idea of speaking with a therapist, try social anxiety apps. There are plenty of apps out there, like Headspace or Meditation Studio, which are great for a beginner in meditation.
If you’re interested in CBT, there are plenty of apps based on this therapy, like Mood path, CBT app, and Healing Hearts that can help you deal with your anxiety.
You can also try apps like 7 Cups, or Calm which are great if you want to talk to someone when feeling anxious. Moreover, these apps are free to download and easy to use.
6. Try relaxation techniques
When you are feeling anxious, it is natural to start breathing erratically, but that increases your nervousness. Instead, try practicing slow and controlled breathing exercises to relax. This is one of the best ways to manage anxiety. You can practice this exercise when you are feeling anxious and before going to an event.
- Inhale for 4 seconds
- Hold the breath for 4 seconds
- Exhale for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Repeat the exercise at least three times.
Breathing exercises are effective in preventing panic attacks and they improve your coping skills.
Furthermore, you have a variety of other relaxation techniques that can reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Some of these methods are simple and can be done anywhere, while others may require more time and effort. But all of them are worth trying, as they can have a positive impact on your health.
Here are a few examples of relaxation techniques to get you started:
- Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body.
- Meditation: Meditation can help you focus and clear your mind.
- Yoga: Yoga combines breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation. It can help you relax and improve your flexibility.
- Tai chi: Tai chi is a slow, graceful martial art that can help you calm your nerves.
Try these practices out and see which one works best for you.
7. Get moving
Exercising is a great way to deal with anxiety and depression. You can go for a run, go swimming, or practice yoga and soon you’ll calm your mind, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood. Exercising and staying active is a great way to channel your energy positively and feel better.
In the end, social anxiety is a common issue that can worsen if left untreated. Unfortunately, many people continue struggling with these feelings for years. Luckily, there are plenty of treatments that can help them overcome it and lead more fulfilling lives.
However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that you can’t “just get over it” it’s a serious problem that can a challenge to defeat. But, now you know what to do to eliminate it, so, take action today!
If you’re suffering from social anxiety, please try the tips above to get the help you need. Also, it might be helpful to subscribe to our newsletter for more valuable articles.