14 Tips on How to Overcome Social Anxiety in Any Situation
5. Study Good Examples
Who do you want to be like? What style of interaction do you seek to emulate?
The plan here is not to impersonate someone you know to lower your social anxiety. Instead, the goal is to compile large amounts of information regarding how other people interact.
By paying attention to the typical interactions of others, you can learn a lot about acceptable behaviors and levels of communication in different circumstances. For a better understanding, ask these people for their own tips or tricks to reduce anxiety.
Remember, TV shows or movies rarely depict accurate interactions. Stick with real life.
6. Be Around Others
Here is the most important tip to combat social anxiety: You must be social.
No matter how much you study or how much confidence you build, you cannot improve your social anxiety alone in your living room. Participate in new activities. Visit new places. Make small talk with strangers on the street.
Of course, this will be uncomfortable, but it is the essential aspect of overcoming your social anxiety. Only through exposure can you overcome your worry. If you do not complete this step, your anxiety will continue increasing with time.
7. Work on Your Listening Skills
Good communication has a lot to do with listening and so does socialization. People with social anxiety might worry too much about what they are going to say and too little about their listening skills.
Active listening will increase the comfort of the people around as they see you engaged in the conversation and interested in what they are saying. This permits you the ability to interject something that flows naturally into the conversation rather than forcing in your rehearsed comment. Plus, when you listen, people will respond more positively to you.
8. Don’t Take Shortcuts
People professing to be your friends may offer you alcohol in an attempt to “treat” your social anxiety by increasing your relaxation and reducing your tension.
Having a few drinks to improve your interactions completely undermines the work you have invested into your goal. It only proves that you have reduced your anxiety by being intoxicated. This is not very helpful.
Examples of other shortcuts include illicit or prescription drugs that are not recommended for you, communication solely through electronic/social media methods, and using other people as crutches. What is best and what is easy are rarely the same.
9. Start Slow and Small
Think about your social anxiety like a ladder you have to climb. Jumping to the top rung will result in you crashing down to earth. Take each rung slowly and carefully.
Begin with simple social tasks like talking to a family member on the phone or meeting a friend at a coffee shop. Let them know your intentions, ask for their feedback about your progress.
With time, push yourself to new, challenging scenarios. As your progress snowballs, you will be more capable and confident in your abilities. From here, most things are possible.
Anna's Tips on How to Overcome Social Anxiety
1. Attend Social Situations
As I mentioned earlier, one of the things I did in the past was avoiding social situations and the only effect that had was to make me even more anxious of social interactions.
While it is understandable that we avoid something we find fearful, avoiding these situations stops us from gaining positive experiences from something we wish to overcome.
Talking about our fears and anxieties can take the weight of the world off of our shoulders. Just being able to have someone listen and be aware of our thoughts and fears can relieve tension and stress.
3. Just Breathe
Practicing breathing techniques can help to keep us calm in anxious situations.
One of the most effective breathing exercises for social anxiety is ‘abdominal breathing’:
- Place your one hand on your chest and the other on your belt line.
- Your hands tell you what part of your body and what muscles you are using to breathe.
- Take a deep breath through your nose to ensure that your diaphragm inflates enough air to stretch the lungs.
- Take a pause, you decide whatever time feels comfortable to resume.
- Open your mouth. Exhale through your mouth by pulling your belly in.
- Pause again.
- Continue and repeat the process as you wish.
4. Shift Focus
Instead of focusing on your anxious feelings in social situations, try focusing on what is around you. Take in the details of your environment, the décor, the furniture, the occasion and the people around you.
This will shift your attention away from yourself and help occupy your mind with something other than anxious thoughts.
5. Practice Relaxation
Before attending a social gathering, practice relaxation techniques such as:
- Taking a long, hot bath
- Listening to calming music
- Meditation and yoga
- Massage Therapy
When we experience social anxiety, we worry and stress that we may come across as weird or annoying to others and because of this we hide away in fear of negative judgment.
We are all different; if we weren’t then the world would be an incredibly boring place.