Over 15 million adults in the United States experience social anxiety disorder. And of those 15 million adults, 36% of them admit to experiencing symptoms for 10 years before seeking help.
Social anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept the symptoms and live with anxiety forever. There are many techniques and ways of thinking that can help you overcome your social anxiety. You don’t have to let your social anxiety disorder hold you back anymore.
If you experience this anxiety, keep reading this comprehensive guide on how to overcome social anxiety.
1. Practice Controlled Breathing
One of the more common signs of social anxiety is having trouble catching your breath during social interactions. And when you feel like you can’t catch your breath, this may cause your heart to race and increase your anxious feelings. So the first step towards overcoming your social anxiety is practicing controlled breathing.
A common controlled breathing technique is the 4-7-8 method.
Start by inhaling through your nose as you count to 4. Then, hold your breath for 7 seconds. Lastly, exhale out of your mouth slowly while counting to 8. Then repeat.
Practice this technique at home away from social situations until you get the hang of it. Then, the next time you’re in an anxiety-inducing interaction, use this technique to calm your breathing.
2. Address Your Negative Thoughts
Another one of the most helpful social anxiety tips is addressing those negative thoughts.
Let’s say you have a big work presentation coming up that is causing anxiety. Take a moment to think about the negative thoughts in your head.
Are you scared of stumbling or stuttering while speaking? Afraid that the fact that you’re anxious will make it appear as if you don’t understand what you’re talking about? Nervous about losing your train of thought in front of your boss and coworkers?
So what? What is the worst-case scenario that comes out of these negative thoughts? If these things do happen all you need to do is breath, regain your train of thought, and continue on with your presentation.
Once you address your negative thoughts, you take some of the unknown away from the situation. Realizing that the worst possible scenario isn’t so bad after all may give you the courage to conquer any social interaction.
3. Focus on Others
Do you find yourself analyzing every word you say as soon as you say them? Find yourself thinking of answers or clever responses as the person you’re interacting with is still talking?
Not only does this hinder the conversation, but it may also seem like you don’t value what the other person has to say. Instead of causing yourself more anxiety while overthinking every interaction, try turning your focus to the other person.
Truly listen to what each person is saying. Think about the meaning of what they’re saying and concentrate on retaining the information. Then, when it’s your turn to speak, you’ll be better in-tune to the conversation.
Soon you’ll find that you can hold better conversations this way and your relationships may grow stronger as a result.
4. Display Confidence
Ever heard the phrase, “fake it until you make it?” This concept comes in handy when dealing with social anxiety.
When you start a conversation while “faking” confidence, after a while, you’ll find that you don’t have to fake it anymore. A little jump start is all your brain needed to feel truly confident.
Here are a few ways you can display confidence:
- Wear your favorite outfit
- Give yourself a pep talk
- Practice good posture
5. Face Your Fears
When you struggle with social interactions, your instinct may be to avoid as much socializing as you can. You may find yourself making excuses to your friends, declining social invitations, or letting phone calls and text messages go unanswered.
But all this avoidance only causes your social anxiety to increase.
Soon you’ll find yourself unable to answer the call because you don’t want to explain why you hadn’t answered previously. Or you’ll say you can’t hang out with a friend again because you don’t want to get caught in a lie. And then, you’ll sit at home anxious about the situation you caused.
Instead, face your fears when they first appear. You may just find that the situation you were going to avoid wasn’t that painful after all.
6. Put Yourself in Social Situations
One of the easiest ways to get better at something is through practice. If you have social anxiety, putting yourself into even more social situations may sound like torture, but it could help lessen your anxiety.
Think about what social situations make you most nervous. Maybe you dread meeting new people or talking about your opinions.
Once you’ve identified your social weaknesses, look for situations that require these weaknesses. For example, you could join a book club if you fear discussing your opinions about different things. Or, find a networking group in your town to regularly meet new people.
The more you put yourself into these awkward situations, the easier they’ll become.
7. Talk About it with Others
The last piece of advice for conquering social awkwardness is talking about it with others.
Let your friends know that you’re struggling with social anxiety. Reach out to a family member when you’re feeling unable to interact with others. Talk to them about what is social anxiety and how it is affecting you.
You’ll find that instead of judging you, the people you love will actually support you and want to help you through your anxiety. They can act as a buffer the next time you’re feeling anxious and help you through social situations.
How to Overcome Social Anxiety? Accept Assistance
Wondering how to overcome social anxiety? Start by trying these seven tips.
If after some time, you still find your social anxiety too much to handle, don’t be afraid to accept assistance. What you’re experiencing might actually be an anxiety or panic disorder instead of social anxiety disorder. If that’s the case, D’Amore Healthcare can help!
D’Amore Healthcare provides a personalized and experience treatment program to help get your mental health back on track. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help you.