Social anxiety is more than just feeling shy. It can cause dreadful panic in people whenever they find themselves in social situations. It is characterized by emotional and/or physical distress and uneasiness about social obligations.
Some people get anxious only when faced with specific social settings such as public speaking, making small talk, and talking to new people or an authority figure.
For people with social anxiety, meeting and mingling with people can be a nightmare. Just the anticipation of being in that predicament makes their hearts pound and turns their stomachs.
Here are ten ways that can help you deal with social anxiety.
Take deep breaths
Be mindful of your breathing.
Whenever you find yourself crippled with social anxiety, the easiest thing that you can do to relieve it is to control your breathing. Controlled breathing will calm your nerves, increases focus and promote relaxation.
Before diving into social situations that you are stressing about, practice slow breathing. This will definitely help you curb your social anxiety.
Avoid over thinking
Socially anxious people tend to over think their every move in a social setting. Over thinking will only make you paranoid and this isn’t a bit helpful when you’re in a social setting.
When you are fixated on ‘what ifs’ and are obsessing about worst-case scenarios, you will have a hard time being present in the moment.
So rid yourself of unnecessary worries and try enjoying your surrounding.
You don’t have to ‘fit in’
Your social anxiety will soar if you’re constantly fussing about fitting in with the crowd. People will judge you no matter what, so stop trying to fit in among people.
Instead, find places and people with whom you belong.
Your anxious mind thinks about all kinds of worst case scenarios such as ‘What if they think I’m dumb?’ or ‘I’m making a fool of myself!’ when there is an important social situation approaching and worrying about these will only make your anxiety worse.
So think rationally and refrain from thinking negative.
Challenge negative thoughts
Socially anxious people often have negative thoughts before, during and after social situations such as ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘They think I’m ugly’, ‘I better shut up because I’m not funny’ and ‘Everybody was staring at me.’
Negative thoughts are unhelpful and it will only elevate your social anxiety. So whenever your mind thinks of a negative thought, think of a contradicting thought to cancel out the negative one.
For example, when you find yourself thinking ‘I’m going to make a fool out of myself during the presentation’, replace this unhelpful thought with a positive one like – ‘Maybe people will not even notice that I’m nervous.’
First impressions aren’t everything
Meeting new people, especially people of authority, is terrifying for socially anxious people.
You are afraid of disapproval and rejections from people you meet. So, you being your anxious self, can ruin first impressions by being too aloof or making others feel like you are not interested.
Remember that first impressions aren’t the final impression.
It is important for socially anxious people to focus their attention to their surrounding rather than focusing on themselves.
You have to stop personalizing everything other people say and really listen to what the person is saying.
Exercising is a vital tool in maintaining mental health. It is very effective in reducing stress, improving concentration and enhancing cognitive function.
You don’t have to follow a heavy exercise regime to relieve anxiety. A ten-minute walk or a light run every day can also help greatly in reducing it.
Join professional help groups
You can actively tackle your social anxiety by taking professional help.
You can find many professional courses specially designed to help people improve their social skills. These classes are a great way to meet people who have the same fears as you and will help you communicate better.
Face your fears
It will take you some time to get used to socializing with people. Tackle your fears one at a time and with time you will overcome your social anxiety.
When you avoid your fear of social interactions, it will only increase social anxiety. It may feel good for the short term but you are preventing yourself from a chance of meeting and interacting with interesting people.
If you have severe social anxiety and self-help techniques aren’t helping you, then please consider taking professional treatments.