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Coping With Social Anxiety

Jonathan Riley

“I’m not anti-social. I’m just not social.” ~ Woody Allen

Social anxiety is the excessive and persistent fear of being judged by other people. People who suffer from social anxiety often regard themselves as strange, ugly, stupid, or flawed in some way. Unsurprisingly, they are extremely anxious in situations where they may be judged by others, such as parties, job interviews, and meeting new people. As a result, social anxiety can have a significant impact on people’s confidence, self-esteem, and psychological well-being.

Here are 10 ways you can cope with social anxiety

  1. Become Your Own Best Advocate. No one else will take care of you like you can, so it is up to you to educate yourself on social anxiety so you can make better choices. Take time out in social situations if you feel the need. Nobody else knows what it is like to be you.
  2. Stop Trying to Be Perfect. Both perfectionism and social anxiety tend to go hand in hand. It is not necessary for everything you say and do to be perfect. For one day, make a point of being imperfect and taking chances.
  3. Stay In the Present Moment. Try focusing your attention on what is going on around you rather than what is going on inside your head. Concentrate on your five senses by noticing how your body feels, how your breathing feels, and what you smell, hear, touch, and see.
  4. Be Brave for One Minute. The vast majority of social anxiety is caused by worrying about what might happen. By making the decision to be brave for one minute and letting go of our safety behaviours, we are able to fight the urge to avoid social situations, allowing the anxiety to level off and eventually fade away.
  5. Look for Subtle Avoidance. You tend to steer conversations in the direction of the other person rather than sharing anything personal about yourself. In a group, you stand at the edge and look at your phone to avoid conversation. Make an effort to share your thoughts and experiences with other people.
  6. Examine The Evidence. When you are feeling anxious, take a moment to identify the anxious thoughts that are racing through your mind. Challenge them by asking questions such as: “What evidence do I have this is true?”
  7. Support Groups. Support groups are helpful for many people who suffer from social anxiety. You can learn that your thoughts about judgement and rejection are distorted and how others with social anxiety approach and overcome their fears.
  8. Keep a Journal. Keeping a journal will allow you to track your progress over time. Writing about your thoughts and experiences will also help you recognise when you are falling back into old habits and negative thinking patterns.
  9. Be Patient with Yourself. Combating social anxiety requires patience and practice. You should not feel pressured to confront your worst fears right away. Taking on too much too soon can actually increase anxiety.
  10. Congratulate Yourself. Realise that you are dealing with more difficulties than the average person and reward yourself for even the smallest of successes. Some days, you may even feel proud of yourself for leaving the house. Therefore, focus on achieving even the smallest of victories, and you will feel much better about yourself.

Finally, be compassionate and patient with yourself throughout your journey. Overcoming social anxiety is a difficult task; therefore, it is important to remind yourself that you are human and that it is normal to make mistakes when trying something new. Using the social anxiety tips provided here, you can start on the path to becoming a strong, confident, and engaging person who enjoys spending time with others.