Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor do I claim to be one. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, are injured, or are feeling thoughts of depression, anxiety, or anything else, please contact a medical professional IMMEDIATELY!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Do you suffer from social anxiety? If you do, you know how difficult it can be to cope with social situations. There are many ways in which you can reduce your fear of social situations, which I will discuss in this article. I hope you find something that helps you! Social anxiety is constituted by fear of social situations and fearing you will act in such a way as to embarrass or humiliate yourself around people you do not know. Individuals who experience social anxiety might experience a number of physical symptoms either prior to or during social or performance situations, such as nausea, panic attacks, stammering, trembling or shaking, sweating, heart palpitations, and/or blushing. Some people with social anxiety decide to confront social situations; however, they are usually distressed while they are in the social situation. Others avoid as many social situations as they can in order to avoid feeling extremely anxious. Social situations are everywhere; however, so it is nearly impossible to avoid all social contact. Here are some ways in which you can cope with social anxiety.

 

Breathing exercises: Breathing exercises will help you cope with your social anxiety. Whenever you feel anxious, take a minute to do a simple breathing exercise. This will help you calm down.

 

One of the most popular breathing exercises is deep breathing. Take a deep breath in, counting to five while you do so. At the same time as you breathe in, push your stomach out; essentially, you want to be breathing through your diaphragm instead of your chest. Then, exhale, counting to five as you do so. Repeat the deep breathing exercise five to ten times.

 

Take a friend: If you are going to a party or meeting new people, ask a friend or a family member to go with you. Having a trusted person with you can help ease some of the anxiety you feel while in social situation that scare you.

 

Be prepared: If you are going to give a presentation or give a speech, spend some time planning what you want to say. Practice it a few times before you have to give it in front of others. It may also help to practice your speech or presentation in front of someone else to get some feedback about your performance. Remember, to do some deep breathing before you give your presentation to help calm your nerves as well!

 

Develop social skills: Try developing your social skills so that you feel more confident about yourself in social situations. Try starting conversations with store clerks and baristas at coffee shops, try giving a co-worker a compliment, or express your opinion about something to an acquaintance. Practicing and developing your social skills may help you gain more confidence in yourself, which should help you cope with your anxiety in social situations.

 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Studies have shown cognitive-behavioral therapy to be an effective treatment for individuals suffering from social anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy will help you examine your thoughts and behaviors and change faulty thinking and improve certain behaviors. Working with a therapist will also allow you to role play different types of situations with an objective person, allowing you to practice new thought patterns and behaviors before you use them in real life social situations.

 

Relaxation techniques: Learn and practice relaxation techniques regularly. Relaxation techniques will help reduce your anxiety and help you feel calmer in social situations. One popular relaxation technique is progressive muscle relaxation. To learn how to do progressive muscle relaxation, please visit e-How.

 

Remind yourself of positive things: When I am going to be in a social situation that I know will make me anxious, I take picture of my cats with me because they are something that comforts me. You can do something similar. Bring something along that comforts you or take a picture of it and carry it with you.

 

Then, when you are in a social situation where you feel anxious and you get a minute to yourself, take the photo or object out to look at, to comfort yourself. Alternatively, if you bring photos of your pet or kids with you, you can show them to other people as well. Sometimes when I feel anxious and need to look at the photos of my cats, I ask whoever I am with if they have ever seen pictures of my cats. Usually they will say no, which gives me an excuse to pull out my photos to both show them and to look at myself.

 

Make yourself as comfortable as possible: If you are going to be in a social situation you know makes you anxious, dress as comfortably as you can, while dressing appropriately for the occasion as well. Wear comfortable shoes as well. When you are more comfortable, you may feel more confident, which helps you cope in anxiety-producing situations.

 

Take it slow: If you can, face social situations gradually. First, work on meeting one new person at a time, then try interacting in small groups, and finally work up to going to parties. Likewise, with public speaking, give a speech or presentation to increasingly bigger groups over time. Practice with smaller groups or situations will help you build the confidence you need to face the big ones.

 

Take care of yourself: Finally, take care of yourself: eat healthily, avoid drinking a lot of caffeine, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and try to decrease negative stressors in your life when you can.

 

Social anxiety makes it hard to face social situations. Utilize these tips to help you cope in the social situations that make you anxious; I hope you find them helpful.

 

Sources:

e-How: How to Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
http://www.ehow.com/how_2163301_do-progressive-relaxation.html?ref=fuel&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=ssp&utm_campaign=yssp_art

Wikipedia: Social Phobia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_phobia

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor do I claim to be one. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, are injured, or are feeling thoughts of depression, anxiety, or anything else, please contact a medical professional IMMEDIATELY!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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