Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is when a person has an extreme fear of being watched or judged by others. This can be an issue in many parts of your life, including at work and while dating and hanging out with friends. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to overcome social anxiety so you can live a happier and more fulfilling life! Here are 10 ways to overcome social anxiety!
1) Gain Control Over Anxious Thoughts
While social anxiety disorder involves more than just thinking negatively, it is definitely worth noting that negative thoughts—and lots of them—are a normal part of social anxiety. Don’t fight them. Instead, embrace your anxious thoughts.
Say hello to them. Don’t let negative self-talk run rampant in your head. Instead, recognize when your mind takes a turn for an anxious place and learn how to pull yourself back from those thoughts as quickly as possible. You can do it; you have control over your thoughts!
2) Get Out Of Your Head And Into Your Body
If you’re suffering from social anxiety, your thoughts are probably racing. Social situations may be nerve-wracking for someone with social phobia, because of their fear of being judged negatively by others. When you think about what you’re doing in a social situation, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by how much is going on and how little you know about interacting socially. Rather than getting lost in your head, try focusing on your body instead.
3) Practice Social Skills Through Conversation Groups
Social skills, often neglected in childhood, can be difficult to develop as an adult. In many cases, shy people opt out of trying new social situations because they fear judgement and rejection. To help you overcome social anxiety and develop more social confidence, look for opportunities in your local community that allow you to practice interacting with others in a low-risk environment.
This might include attending meetup groups or volunteering at local events that are geared toward helping people connect with one another. Most cities have such options; do some research online or ask around if you can’t find what you’re looking for locally. You’ll likely see improvements quickly!
4) Learn How Other People Perceive You
Social anxiety disorder is essentially fear of being negatively judged by others. People with social anxiety may feel their insecurities are obvious and that other people can see their flaws, too.
The sad reality is most people aren’t noticing these flaws and if they do, it’s probably not on purpose. It’s important to remember no one is paying as much attention to you as you think they are. If a situation makes you uncomfortable, don’t let your mind convince you everyone thinks less of you—get out there and ask questions; chances are good your fears won’t be realized!
5) Face Your Fears, One At A Time
Rather than avoiding people and social situations, work on facing one of your fears—it can be a person or a particular situation—one at a time. For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, take an improv class (after doing some research and making sure that it’s actually something you would enjoy).
If you’re uncomfortable around new people, approach five strangers each day. The key is to try not to do everything all at once; instead, break up your goal into small pieces so that you can address each challenge one by one.
6) Build Your Self-Esteem, Step By Step
If you have social anxiety, it can be hard to believe that anyone could possibly like you. But everyone—even those with extreme social phobias—has a chance at developing high self-esteem. To build your self-esteem, step by step, break down your goals into manageable chunks.
Think about what you can do right now: maybe it’s giving yourself credit for getting out of bed and going through your morning routine, or for following through on some other small but significant goal. If you can get in the habit of building small successes into your routine every day, you’ll soon find that overcoming social anxiety feels more like crossing off items on a list than a tall order that seems impossible to fill.
7) Use Positive Self-Talk To Change Your Thoughts
It’s important to remember that your social anxiety doesn’t have control over you. You do. Don’t forget that you still have friends and family who love you, and they will understand if you have moments when you need time alone or just want to go out with friends instead of meeting new people.
You might feel guilty asking for these things at first, but know that it’s okay—even healthy—to take care of yourself. Part of overcoming social anxiety is learning how to be comfortable and happy on your own as well as in a group; social activities don’t always have to involve large groups of strangers! Hang out with your family or play board games with your friends.
8) See Things From Another Person’s Perspective
When you’re feeling socially anxious, it can be hard to see things from another person’s perspective. Because of your fear, you may believe that everyone around you is judging you and thinking negative thoughts about you. But just as other people don’t have a crystal ball into your soul, they probably aren’t judging or thinking negatively about you either.
That doesn’t mean they won’t sometimes think something not-so-nice about you–but most of what we think about others is based on our own perceptions, needs, and biases rather than reality. Remembering that others have their own struggles and insecurities can be helpful when dealing with social anxiety; it also helps remind us that most people are trying their best just like we are.
9) Seek Professional Help When Necessary
It’s not possible for everyone to treat social anxiety on their own. Some may need therapy and/or medication from a professional. Medication, in particular, is often helpful for those suffering from social anxiety disorder.
Studies have shown that some antidepressants can be especially effective for those with mild cases of social phobia. It’s still worth trying your hand at self-help first if you can—the Internet is a great resource. Just make sure you also consult a doctor when necessary and remember that it could take time before things get better (and they almost certainly will get better!).
10) Don’t Forget To Enjoy Life!
It may seem counterintuitive, but overcoming social anxiety doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying life. In fact, it should be easier now that you don’t feel so scared about what other people think of you. Keep doing things that bring joy into your life, even if they make you uncomfortable (at first).
Go on new adventures and see what happens! If you start feeling anxious or worried, remind yourself that it’s okay and try taking deep breaths until your body calms down.
Frequently Asked Questions
Everyone that thinks they might be dealing with social anxiety will have lingering questions at the back of their minds. If you’re trying to actively overcome social anxiety, it pays to be more informed on the topic.
Are Social Anxiety And Shyness The Same Thing?
People who are shy generally feel uncomfortable in social situations, but don’t experience the intense fear that people with social anxiety do.
Take a look at some of these differences:
Shyness is more common than social anxiety. As many as 20% of Americans are thought to be shy, while about 7% have social anxiety disorder (SAD).
Social anxiety can lead to physical symptoms, like blushing and sweating. When someone is shy, they may not speak up because they feel awkward, but they won’t necessarily experience the same physical reactions.
People with SAD can feel so nervous around others that they tend to avoid social situations. Shy people might want to interact with others, but they’re afraid of doing something embarrassing or being judged negatively.
Social anxiety is diagnosed as a mental health condition. While it’s normal for everyone to feel nervous in certain situations, SAD can affect a person’s quality of life. Most people with SAD don’t seek treatment, even though it can help them feel better and function normally in life.
Can Social Anxiety Be Cured?
It is unlikely that a cure or any form of treatment will stop your social anxiety completely. However, it can help you reduce your symptoms, manage your anxiety and improve your social skills so that you can enjoy better relationships and take part in more of the activities you enjoy.
Everyone has some fear of social situations. It is normal to worry about what others may think of us or feel uneasy when meeting new people. For example, you may feel slightly anxious when giving a presentation at work or going on a date for the first time. This is different from social anxiety, where everyday situations cause extreme distress, and embarrassment and make it hard for you to cope with daily life.
Social anxiety can be treated through therapy and medication. If left untreated, it can affect your quality of life and lead to depression.
Will Social Anxiety Ever Go Away?
It’s not so much that social anxiety will ever totally go away. It’s about learning how to manage it.
An effective way to do that is through CBT, which is basically a form of professional training in techniques that help you challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.
For example, if you’re feeling anxious about going on a date, your negative thought might be: “I’m going to make an idiot of myself.” The therapist will help you identify this thought, then question it – what evidence do you have that this thought is true?
Is there any way in which it could be untrue? For example, do you have any friends who’d say you’re not an idiot? Does your partner really think you’re an idiot? Is there anything else that could explain why she’s dating you if she thinks you’re an idiot?
Then the therapist would encourage you to focus on other interpretations. What if future dates were fun and enjoyable? How would you feel if they were successful, or even if they were just harmless? This would help train your brain to think positively rather than negatively.
By trying out one or a combination of the methods above, you’ll be able to overcome social anxiety.
Bonus: Try Exerpy
Exerpy, or exercise therapy, is another great tool to overcome social anxiety. Working out releases endorphins, which are chemicals that can make you feel happy and boost your mood. Exercise can also help you get more comfortable in social situations by helping you deal with any pent-up anger or frustration and boosting your self-confidence. So, try getting active to alleviate your anxiety and take back control of your life.