5 Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety
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Social anxiety: when someone is consistently afraid of others watching or judging them, and it interferes with their daily activities and ability to function.
It’s when you’re the performer onstage, without a stage. Or an audience. Throughout our lives, we face social situations. Social interactions are everywhere: dropping off a package, grocery shopping, and visiting the dentist. All these everyday things involve speaking to another person and engaging with them in some shape or form.
We all face nervousness around others at some point. Depending on the situation, it can be daunting to present yourself in front of people. Situations like public speaking or presenting a pitch to your boss can be intimidating.
But, when does the discomfort get to the point where you can’t show up to events at all, or even complete important tasks? Although we all experience jitters around people at some point for different reasons, social anxiety often becomes more intense.
When someone struggles with social anxiety, the most mundane things become an obstacle. It can negatively affect your mental well-being and self-confidence. Social anxiety grasps one’s life and floods them with unwanted emotions and triggers around others. How can you interact with others when you’re so overwhelmed?
As you continue experiencing these unnerving feelings, it can lead to a worsened state of mind. This can adversely affect an individual and lead to low self-esteem and high levels of stress.
Social anxiety can be extremely difficult to endure when you are trying to complete a simple task or have a good time and socialize. After all, socialization is crucial for well-being and mental health. Humans are social creatures, so we need it to survive and thrive.
What Are The Signs?
There are many symptoms that occur because of social anxiety. You might feel flushed in the face, sweaty, or even dizzy. Words may fail to come out of you in a sensible way, and your mind might blank.
Whether it be psychological or physical symptoms, social anxiety manifests itself in ways that make it difficult for those affected to socialize without extreme discomfort.
Here are some signs of social anxiety:
- Fear of some or most social situations
- Fear of being embarrassed
- Blushing, sweating, or shaking in social situations
- Avoiding social situations altogether
- Overanalyzing and overthinking past social interactions
If you face any of these signs, you might use a safety behavior such as avoidance. These behaviors temporarily soothe the fear of judgment from others but can further the cycle of anxiety.
Avoidance is a safety behavior where you want to avoid a social event or interaction to cope. When experiencing these crippling symptoms, you might find it more difficult to flee the scene than to get out of your comfort zone. So, avoiding the event or situation altogether remains the easy option.
This might temporarily relieve the stress of an upcoming social event, but in the long run only feeds into the cycle. We might become too comfortable avoiding situations and make that into a habit, which only stunts our personal growth in the long run.
5 Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to manage your symptoms and care for your body and mind when dealing with social anxiety. While there are psychological ways to help, there are also physical ways, too.
Naturally, if your body and mind are feeling anxious, that means your sympathetic nervous system is activated. It runs your fight-or-flight response during a perceived threat or danger. Once it’s activated, it releases stress hormones and may affect your heart, digestive system, and sweat glands, to name a few.
By activating your parasympathetic nervous system, you can calm down and healthily distract yourself from such feelings. This includes relaxing your muscles, breathing patterns, and digestive tract.
Here are our tips to guide you through this!
Practice Positive Self-Talk
When dealing with extreme nerves around others, you are faced with a fear of judgment. One way to challenge these fears is to practice speaking to yourself kindly.
We tend to give ourselves negative ideas and comments that further drive our fear of criticism. By saying kind things to yourself, you start to believe them. Say to yourself what you would say to a friend! You can start by stating affirmations like:
- “I am so fun to be around.”
- “I am loved by the people in my life.”
- “I have a lot to contribute to this group.”
Another great option to supplement these sayings is to read books and write in workbooks catered specifically to this method. Having resources at your fingertips is a great way to further your journey in facing this!
Never underestimate the power of being kind to yourself. Understanding that no matter what you are worthy of love and connection, is the basis of this practice. Not everyone is going to like you, and you are not going to like everyone! But being your own ally is the first step to creating the community that is best for you.
Anxiety creates a complicated dynamic between mind and body. When undergoing levels of stress, your gut might need more replenishment. This includes adding probiotics to your diet and fermented foods. Remember to consult your doctor before making changes to your diet.
As you experience social anxiety, your sympathetic nervous system is activated and creates an uncomfortable amount of stress hormones. Supplements such as St. John’s Wort or stress gummies can aid the body when anxiety takes over. It may be a smaller way, but may improve your symptoms.
Escape Your Comfort Zone
Maybe reading that header made your skin crawl. Do not be overwhelmed; you can start small. Creating smaller, more realistic goals for yourself is a great way to start stepping out of your comfort zone. This is called an exposure hierarchy, a set of goals that build up on each other to eventually minimize your fears.
You do not have to book a trip to serve those in need on the other side of the country to challenge your comfort!
An example of this would be to visit your local coffee shop and do some work there, rather than at your office. You can build on little goals by adding to them, such as complimenting the barista and asking how their day is!
Doing things as little as that can brighten your day (and someone else’s!), teaching you that social interactions can be natural and enjoyable. Of course, everyone’s goals look different. Do not be hard on yourself if you have a smaller goal or a larger goal to accomplish!
Remember to be easy on yourself in this process and congratulate yourself for stepping outside of your bubble. Every little accomplishment counts!
Find a Hobby
Exploring different passions and activities can guide you in finding people who share those interests. You can start by trying out a new yoga class, joining a book club, or a local church group. Trying new things is a fun, small way to challenge yourself, so joining others can kill two birds with one stone.
Finding something you enjoy doing is a great step in building self-confidence and a sense of individuality. Joining others in doing your favorite activities can open up for sharing that connection!
Speak with a Therapist
Therapy is an amazing tool for overcoming social anxiety. Speaking with a professional gives you an objective outlook on your symptoms and helps you manage them your own way.
It can also help you get to the root of your social anxiety and work from there. Social anxiety can stem from many different things, so learning what they are can help you banish those ideas.
All in all, social anxiety can be a draining struggle that can interfere with your personal growth and success. But, no matter what level of anxiety you are facing, you can challenge those thoughts and empower yourself with the right tools and mindset!
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