Social anxiety is an extreme, insistent fear of being watched and judged by others. Also known as social phobia, the mental health condition is quite common in society. There can be various reasons behind its formation, such as physical, mental, or sexual abuse, bullying, family conflicts, domestic violence, death in the family, among others.
The good news is that the condition is highly treatable, and that is exactly what we will discuss today. If you feel you are a victim of social anxiety, we present you with 12 ways you can cope with this condition the best way. So, let’s begin;
1. Go for Therapy
Talking with a therapist is one of the most helpful practices for dealing with social anxiety. Feeling uneasy, shy, and nervous around people can hinder you from achieving your everyday goals. But you can work on your symptoms under the guidance of professionals the best way. Therapy provides a peaceful environment for navigating different anxiety-causing conditions.
A trained therapist will:
- Provide you with insight into the difference between shyness and social anxiety
- Aid you examine the different triggers of social anxiety
- Teach you different social skills, relaxation techniques, and coping strategies
- Provide guidance through replacing, reframing, and challenging negative thoughts
2. Examine Anxiety Triggering Factors
There is always a trigger in a situation which is why you get anxious about people judging you. For example, you might get triggered when someone asks you to do something you are uncomfortable doing or when you have to present something to a whole group of people.
Figuring out the triggers related to anxiety is the first step to know the answers to work on them and cope with these feelings meaningfully. You need to start listing the conditions which make you feel uncomfortable. These might include meeting with a professor, interviewing for a job, or others
3. Challenge Pessimistic Thoughts
There are chances you spend most of your time worrying about the potential pessimistic results of social anxiety situations. These may include saying something rude to someone accidentally, calling someone with a wrong name, spilling something on your shirt, laughing at the wrong time, and others.
Now, these things might happen by chance and cause discomfort in the short term. However, their effects don’t last but only for minutes as no one remembers the details of a petty thing for a long time. This is what you need to grasp to stop paying attention to the temporary situation and feel embarrassed and anxious.
4. Practice with People You Can Trust
It is always helpful to share your troubling thoughts with people you can trust. There are certain ways to do that. For example, you can tell your feelings and thoughts regarding a situation to your family or friends or get in an emotional support group where you can freely share what you are feeling without the fear of being judged.
Not only that, but you can also ask your close family or friends to help you deal with the situation. They can tell you how to respond in different ways in different situations that are acceptable, involving positive, negative, and neutral responses.
5. Practice Meditation
It is one of the most effective ways to conquer anxiety issues, especially social anxiety. When you try to focus on the present moment, do deep breaths, and don’t tune into your negative feelings, you are better able to get out of the anxiety loop that you get into different uncomfortable public situations as it calms your mind.
When you feel that you are about to get overwhelmed, it is in your best favor to take a pause and do deep, rhythmic breathing. This will lighten your mind and bring your attention to the current moment instead of jumping to negative conclusions.
6. Small Acts for Kindness
In a 2015 study, it was found that doing little acts of kindness even for a month helped the participants to overcome social anxiety, encouraging them to face the situation directly and in a better way. Doing kind acts help you feel good about yourself, encouraging confidence.
Also, social anxiety usually comes with a fear relating to disapproval or rejection. However, if you are able to do something thoughtful and kind, such as giving your colleague her favorite cookies or helping a stranger cross the road, people form and show positivity for you. Thus, doing good deeds makes people feel closer to you, helping overcome social anxiety.
7. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine activates certain neurotransmitters in your nervous system and makes your body gets stressed. The release of cortisol hormones and accelerated state of mind make you feel more nervous in social situations, causing you social anxiety.
That is not it; alcohol can also make you feel more anxious and worse as you get anxiety tantrums. People consider drinking a good way to get rid of anxiety but exceeding the moderate amount can actually leave you feeling worse than before. With time, you can develop a tolerance to high amounts of alcohol, putting you at an increased risk of getting anxious easily.
So, be mindful of consuming these two items as too much of them can elevate your anxiety levels in public.
8. Look Out For Details
Most people try to avoid social situations as a way to deal with their social anxiety. This is not the right solution to this problem. What you need is to make sure that you remain in the right direction when it comes to participating in public events and activities.
So, find and avoid the details that you usually follow in an attempt to cope with your anxiety. These may include being busy in the kitchen at a party or encourage other people to talk about themselves if they are engaged in a conversation with someone. This can drive you to get into a comfort zone but will actually only magnify your social anxiety, making it hard to deal with it with time. So, challenge your instincts and stop making these mistakes.
9. Look at the Bigger Picture
Looking at the bigger picture in terms of dealing with anxiety means navigating the whole situation as an attempt to feel positive about it.
When dealing with social phobia, it is vital to recognize that all people around you are not above or below you, and they are all humans just like you are. They all have their weaknesses and strengths, as you do. Also, there is nothing inherently wrong with yourself. So as humans, we all make and keep making mistakes, and this is what makes us unique and special as a species. By having this approach, you are better able to build confidence in yourself and avoid triggers of social anxiety.
10. Work on Your Physical Health
A lot of people have body image issues that make them feel low about themselves. This causes them to avoid certain social gatherings as they have a fear of being made fun of. One way to deal with this is to work on your physical health for the sake of your own esteem and health betterment. For example, you can do exercises regularly, from cardio to aerobic exercises, and eat healthily.
This way, you are able to get the boost of self-confidence that you need in your life. Working on your physical health makes you feel confident enough to shed your insecurities and deal better in social situations.
11. Become Educated on Communication Skills
Get a book or watch different personalities on the internet who are great at communication. There are many communication skills that you can learn from different people or experts who will teach you how to be more social and interact with different people on different occasions. Do notice how people with impressive personalities communicate with other people. It will help you learn the best and effective ways to communicate with others and in public. You will experience improved self-esteem and confidence.
12. Learn Something New from Interaction
Another effective way to deal with social anxiety is to build a learning mindset. You can promise yourself to learn something new as you interact with people at an event or during an activity because there is nothing to be anxious about when you are at a place with a spirit to learn. It will help expand your horizons, build links with people and help you learn a lot about the world, staying comfortable.
So, now you know how to overcome social anxiety. These are some of the ways through which you can improve your ability to deal with different social situations, including parties, events, corporate functions, weddings, interviews, and others. The key is to practice resilience and make sure you don’t get too hard on yourself in that matter. You need to identify how you can come through different situations by adopting different techniques and stick with the ones that work for you the best.