Overcoming Social Anxiety
June 9, 2023
Grace Cheng (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer
Has anyone ever encouraged you to come out of your shell? Being shy can sometimes result in you keeping to yourself and not interacting with others often. Being alone is like a turtle hiding inside its shell. It is safe for turtles to remain inside their shells. Similarly, keeping your thoughts and feelings private can make you feel safe from the outside world.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety refers to a persistent and excessive fear of what people think about you. Social anxiety is more than just feeling nervous or uncomfortable in social situations. There is no doubt that everyone gets anxious about what other people think of them from time to time. However, social anxiety is a persistent and intense pattern of fear that affects many aspects of daily life.
A core component of social anxiety is the fear of being negatively evaluated and rejected. In situations where you are socially anxious, you worry about what other people think of you and hope you are making a positive impression. In severe cases of social anxiety, physical reactions can occur that leave you trembling, dizzy and terrified of rejection. Those who suffer from severe social anxiety know how painful and overwhelming it can be to think about being in a social setting.
How to Overcome Social Anxiety
- Be Kind to Yourself
You should treat yourself with kindness and gentleness throughout your journey to overcome social anxiety. This will not be an easy task, and there will likely be setbacks. It is important to remember that you are human and not perfect. We all experience moments of embarrassment or discomfort in our lives from time to time. Be as gracious to yourself as you would to someone else who is making a change in their life. It is okay to experience setbacks.
- Identify Your Anxiety Triggers
Identifying the specific situations that may cause you to experience severe stress is one of the keys to understanding how to get rid of social anxiety. The things that may cause anxiety to you may not cause anxiety to another individual. By determining where you feel most anxious, you can begin to work on overcoming your fears.
- Taking Baby Steps
You don’t need to make significant progress every step of the way. Even taking baby steps, like committing to yourself that you will attend an event and carrying it out, is significant progress in the right direction. The change can be as simple as ordering a coffee if that is a trigger for your anxiety.
- Use Relaxation Methods
The use of relaxation techniques can help treat the physical symptoms of social anxiety. Social anxiety is characterized by physical symptoms such as sweating, difficulty breathing, heart pounding, nausea and light-headedness. The use of relaxation techniques focused on the breathing process can help alleviate many of these symptoms.
- Role Play
Role-playing can provide you with an excellent opportunity to practice scenarios you might fear, so you will be prepared, should they arise. It is important to remember that this is a big “if.” You may be able to role-play in therapy, or perhaps you might ask a friend or a family member who is close to you to assist you. Consider playing a role-playing game in which you need to go to a restaurant or store to make a purchase or order something. Perhaps you have a fear of giving the incorrect answer, in which case you can role-play a scenario in which the wrong answer is given. It is possible to use role-playing in a variety of situations.
- You Are More Than What You Think
It is important to understand that many people find you as interesting as you find them to be. Sharing your thoughts will assist others in feeling comfortable sharing their thoughts with you as well. You don’t have to put on a show. In fact, if you listen more than you speak, others might feel more included in the discussion.
- Don’t Focus on Yourself
Do not focus your attention on yourself or what other people think of you. It is important to focus on other people, be present and establish genuine connections. The truth is that no one is perfect, so try to focus on the present and listen closely to what other people are saying.
- Face Your Fears
Seek out supportive social environments that will assist you in overcoming your fears. You cannot overcome social anxiety if you do not expose yourself to situations that cause you anxiety. When you use avoidance to cope, you won’t be helping yourself or fostering your growth as a person. You could start by taking a social skills training course. Practicing your social interactions here will prepare you for the real world. You will learn what to say and do if you find yourself in a social situation you are unfamiliar with or anxious about. It doesn’t matter if you go to a fast-food restaurant or a coffee shop with a book or your laptop — stepping out of your comfort zone can boost your self-confidence. There is an additional benefit to this tip in that the stakes can be low. The goal is not to attend a huge event, but to practice being in public.
These social anxiety tips will help you begin on your path to becoming a strong, confident and engaging individual who enjoys spending time with others. The fear of social events does not have to limit your life. Having social engagements and interactions can fill your life with joy and companionship. You deserve a full life, filled with enriching experiences.
Grace has an accounting and finance background. She enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, watching movies and playing sports.
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