10 Strategies for Handling Social Anxiety That Work

Have you ever found yourself sweating profusely or feeling nauseous in a social setting? These are tell-tale signs of social anxiety, and overcoming this very real dilemma can be grueling. In fact, it can be so powerful that it can trigger physical reactions that can leave you shaking. Forget about physically being in a social situation – the mere thought of a social setup alone can be enough to cause a cascade of overwhelming emotions.

Social anxiety is a term that many of us are familiar with – and even experienced at some point. It’s the fear of judgment from others, the constant worry about embarrassing yourself or having others reject you. It’s that fear that prevents you from standing up and presenting your opinions or that feeling of pure dread that fills you before you enter a social gathering.

Living with the constant fear of facing people can cripple you. If going to the grocery store, going on dates, engaging with coworkers, or attending meetings can set off your anxiety, it’s fair to say that you’re allowing it to override your life. Here are some common signs of social anxiety:

–       Self-isolation

–       Sweating profusely

–       Avoiding eye contact with others

–       Fear and embarrassment

–       Low confidence

–       Palpitations and trembling

–       Nausea

–       Fear of criticism and judgment

–       Anxiety attacks

–       Difficulty in doing everyday activities in the presence of others

If you feel that social anxiety is starting to dictate your everyday activities, it’s time to explore some helpful tips to help you overcome it.

Know What Triggers You

Figure out what sparks your social anxiety. Is it making a public presentation or entering a room full of strangers? Or is it something else, like a fear of eating in a restaurant? The thing about triggers is that it’s unique to each person – what causes anxiety in another might not necessarily make you feel anxious. This is why part of understanding how to overcome social anxiety is figuring out which situations cause you to feel anxious. After that, you can start working on overcoming these fears.

Work On Your Public Speaking Skills

Yes, you read it right. Public speaking is a very abject fear for most, particularly when you realize the spotlight is on you. However terrifying as it may sound, try joining a public speaking group or even practice it in front of your mirror. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will get, and it will slowly but surely help you to battle your feeling of social anxiety.

Control Your Breathing

Have you noticed that your breath becomes short and shallow when anxious? This is why practicing deep breathing exercises can be a genuine game-changer. Whenever you start feeling anxiety creeping up, take a few seconds to close your eyes and shift your entire focus on your breathing. Follow the 4-7-8 method, where you breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Try it yourself – you’ll be amazed by how calm it can make you feel!

Rename Your Feelings

Often, we misjudge our own emotions, and if you’re prone to doing this, you just need to rename your feelings of anxiousness. So, for example, if there is a meeting you’re feeling anxious about, don’t identify it as nerves. Instead, tell yourself that you’re just excited. It may seem trivial, but this simple shift of focus in thinking can be powerful enough to help retrain your brain with positive affirmations.

Challenge your negative thinking

If you have social anxiety, you’re likely to spend an unhealthy amount of time obsessing over how things can go wrong. Maybe you worry about saying something inappropriate, falling, spilling on yourself, offending someone, or being unintentionally rude. Remember, these things do happen, and as embarrassing as they may be, you need to understand that everyone makes mistakes, and just because you make one doesn’t mean people will look down on you.

Be Kind

At first glance,  being kind doesn’t come across as a solution for social anxiety, but research proves otherwise. There is an undeniable link between social anxiety and kindness – and it might just be a great way to combat social anxiety. The thing is, the root cause of anxiety is fear or rejection, and when you do acts of kindness, it causes positive reactions and gratitude. In return, this can help you to reduce your own feelings of fear of being rejected in social setups.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

No one can help you better than yourself; one way to do that is to try stepping away from your comfort zone. It could be as small as going to a coffee shop with a book to spend a few hours alone. This way, you are not going to a huge public event but working on being comfortable in a public setting.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Battling social anxiety is not an easy journey; it’s an arduous task with many setbacks along the way. So be gentle with yourself. You’re human and, therefore, aren’t perfect. Remember that everyone feels uncomfortable or embarrassed at some point, so give yourself the grace to accept that baby steps are ok. It means you’re trying, and you will get there.

Follow an Anti-Anxiety Lifestyle

How you treat your body can have a crucial impact on your anxiety. Introducing lifestyle changes such as those mentioned below can significantly reduce your levels of anxiety:

–       Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day as it helps to improve mood and overall outlook on life.

–       Avoid or cut off caffeine or energy drinks that can act as stimulants for anxiety.

–       Avoid alcohol.

–       Quit smoking, as nicotine is a powerful stimulant that leads to higher anxiety levels.

–       Get sufficient sleep because when you’re sleep-deprived, you make yourself more vulnerable to feelings of anxiety.

Get Professional Help

We all need that extra push sometimes, and if you feel that your social anxiety is overwhelming, you might want to seek support from a therapist. Talk therapy can be a game-changer because the therapist will allow you to understand what your social anxiety is all about.

Remember, anxiety is sometimes tricky to work through on your own, particularly if it has started interfering with your ability to live a normal life. A therapist will help you identify your triggers, reframe your negative thoughts, discover coping strategies, and use holistic therapy and relaxation techniques to help you battle social anxiety.

Bottom Line

Only those suffering from social anxiety can understand how difficult it is. We hope the tips mentioned in this article allow you to start on your path toward becoming a stronger, more confident person. You don’t deserve to live a life crippled with fear of being in a social event. We, humans, are social creatures by nature, and you deserve an enriching life with exciting interactions. With a little extra effort on your side and that little nudge from your loved ones, you can learn how to slowly but steadily overcome social anxiety.