In its simplest terms, social anxiety is the fear of being judged. People with social anxiety may feel anxiety before, during, or after a social situation. Some people with social anxiety are less affected by it than others. For example, someone may feel anxious in social situations, but not feel like it is holding them back from branching out. However, other people may avoid going to parties, events, or even college because of their fear of interacting with new people.
Here are some ways to help you overcome social anxiety.
1. Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing can help you calm down when you are in a situation that is causing anxiety. Or it can help you calm yourself down before or after the situation. It is important to practice deep breathing every day so that it becomes second nature. Otherwise, you may become so focused on your breathing that you cannot pay attention to what is going on around you.
2. Create a Social Hierarchy
Make a list of situations that make you anxious, from least to most severe. Then, start with the easiest thing and go from there.
3. Create Goals
Similar to creating a social hierarchy, creating goals can help you take small steps at first, so that later, the big steps do not seem as daunting. For instance, you may be nervous on the first day of class. Make it a goal to raise your hand and answer a question at least once in the first week, then build up from there. That way, if you ever have to give a presentation in class, you will feel more prepared knowing that you can talk in front of a room full of people.
4. Think Rationally
This one can be hard. Your first reaction to a situation is your anxiety speaking. Take a deep breath and think of a rational response to the situation. For example, if you are meeting someone new, your first reaction might be, “They’re going to hate me.” A more rational response is: “I’m a nice person and most people get along with me.” This also takes practice since it is very easy to let your anxiety consume your thoughts.
5. Seek Help
While these exercises are helpful for managing social anxiety, if you feel self-help is not helping as much as you want it to, seek professional help from a licensed therapist. Social anxiety is highly treatable.
Although it can feel like your social anxiety is taking over your life, these methods can help you regain control and live life the way you want to.
At Avenues Counseling, we offer avenues of care to our community for those seeking healing from the pains of life, as well as partnering with area organizations to strengthen and develop the care they provided.