How To Overcome Your Social Anxiety: 6 Tips You Can Use Now
Do you get stressed in social situations? I want to discuss:
- The definition of social anxiety
- Specific situations that trigger social anxiety
- Common signs and symptoms of social anxiety
Lets get to the truth about social anxiety and what you can do about it. I want to bust the myths and misinformation.
Connect With Your Child
You can use the PACE model to engage with your children and help them feel safe. The PACE method stands for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, and Empathy. These four reactions or methods of interaction help to release some of the anxiety associated with a situation by letting the child know that you are calm, relaxed, and able to understand and help them.
An interaction between a parent and a child with social anxiety could sound like this:
“It seems like you’re worried about your game tomorrow. You’re not scared you’ll have too much fun, are you?”
Using playfulness shows your child that you, as the person who keeps them safe, are feeling relaxed and open, allowing them to begin to feel more relaxed.
“No, I just don’t want to play soccer anymore. I’d rather play with you.”
“I hear ya. I love playing with you too.”
Showing acceptance of your childs feelings is especially important when your child has anxiety, because so often anxiety can be brushed off as irrational. If your child learns that they can come to you with their anxiety and feel heard, they feel safer now and with future anxieties.
“Maybe you’re worried about missing a goal tomorrow. I know when I focus on scoring in sports, I feel really anxious and pressured to do well. I wonder if you’re feeling nervous because youre not sure if youll make goals?”
“Well, I did miss a goal at the last game, and Jordan was mean to me because I let down the WHOLE team.”
Challenge Your Anxious Thoughts
You are often thinking about how badly things will go. For example, you predict that you will fall apart and make a fool of yourself. You predict that everyone will notice that you are sweating–and that they will all talk about it. You think it is a catastrophe that your mind will go blank.
You can challenge these thoughts by asking yourself the following: Have you really made a fool of yourself or are you just predicting the same thing over and over? Is it possible that people dont notice your sweating, because they are thinking about what they are going to say? What is the evidence that people talk about your anxiety? How do you know? Why would anyone really care if you are feeling anxious? How is it relevant to them? Have you ever noticed when someone else said, I forgot what I was going to say? Did anything terrible happen? Argue back at these negative thoughts.
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Social Anxiety Disorder In Children
Theres nothing abnormal about a child being shy, but children with social anxiety disorder experience extreme distress over everyday situations such as playing with other kids, reading in class, speaking to adults, or taking tests. Often, children with social phobia dont even want to go to school.
Have A Logical Viewpoint
You should get rid of such irrational thoughts that are not positive, and those that make you feel anxious. Here, it is all about ignoring the facts and basing your outlook on your beliefs. You might have done some public speaking engagements, and you are gradually becoming better at it. But it would be less logical to assume that you will be perfect in your public speaking.
It is possible to mess up at some point, or, to be turned down on a request. To solve this, you will need to learn to expect anything, whether positive or negative.
And to ensure having more positive feedback, then practice well, for future public speaking and social events.
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How Psychotherapy Can Help
You should also know that social phobia wont go away on its own, but treatment of social anxiety is entirely possible. One of the most effective treatments for anxious people is psychotherapy specifically, an approach called cognitive behavioral therapy .
CBT is a type of therapy that helps you identify and explore your negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with more logical and positive ones. For example, assume your social anxiety disorder has made you terrified to visit a new restaurant. Youre afraid youll do something embarrassing in front of people, like mispronounce a menu item or use the wrong utensil, or perhaps the waiter will want to engage in small talk. Your therapist will walk you through each of these fears and negative thoughts, helping you to question each of them rationally. Then he or she will help you reframe this particular social situation in a new, more positive and more realistic way.
Replace Negativity With Positivity
Being positive is contagious. If you have a habit of seeing the world through a negative lens , try becoming an optimist, if only for a day at first. Replace any negative thoughts with more positive alternatives. See if that doesn’t help you start to climb out of your rut.
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Why Do You Feel Anxious
This is one of the most infuriating questions, ever. But everybody close to me has asked it at least once over the years. If I knew why I felt so anxious, then surely Id be able to find a bloody solution! Asking why only highlights how clueless I am. Still, I dont blame them. Its natural for humans to ask questions and try to determine what the problem is. We like to solve things.
When your friend is struggling with anxiety, dont use comments like these. Here are five ways you can actually help them:
An Exercise In Realistic Thinking
Say youve just started a new job, and your co-workers have invited you to their monthly happy hour. Youd like to get to know them better, but you feel terrified that you might say or do something that affects their opinion of you. Consider these questions and how you might answer them:
- What makes me believe Ill say something embarrassing? I did once before, and people laughed.
- How many times have I spent time with other people and not said anything embarrassing? More than I can count.
- Whats the worst that could happen? Why am I so afraid of this? I want them to like me, not think Im weird or socially awkward.
- Have you ever heard someone say something silly or awkward in public? How did you respond? I felt bad for them, but they laughed it off and no one seemed to care.
- What if you responded in the same way? Theyd probably think Im a good sport.
- What would you tell a friend worrying about the same thing? People will like you or they wont. Making a mistake or joke that falls flat probably wont affect their opinion overall.
Understanding the spotlight effect the tendency to think others notice your mistakes more than they actually do can also go a long way toward easing feelings of social anxiety.
You might believe everyones staring at you after an awkward faux pas, but most people probably didnt even notice. Those who did? Theyll probably forget what happened pretty quickly.
A few ideas to try:
Some people also find it helpful to rename anxious feelings.
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Set Up A Hierarchy Of Fear
For each situation, you can identify how the situation could be rated in terms of levels of anxiety that you would experience. You can rate each anticipated behavior from 0 to 10 in terms of the level of anxiety that you might expect. 0 would correspond to no anxiety and 10 would be a panic attack. For example, the young man with the fear of meeting people at a party had the following hierarchy of fear, from least to highest: Thinking of going to the party , going to the party , walking into the room , seeing people in the room , deciding to start a conversation , talking with an attractive woman . Its important to write down your predictions so that you can find out how anxious you really are when you go. Sometimes people find that they are not as anxious as they anticipated they would be.
Tip : Learn To Control Your Breathing
Many changes happen in your body when you become anxious. One of the first changes is that you begin to breathe quickly. Overbreathing throws off the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your bodyleading to more physical symptoms of anxiety, such as dizziness, a feeling of suffocation, increased heart rate, and muscle tension.
Learning to slow your breathing down can help bring your physical symptoms of anxiety back under control. Practicing the following breathing exercise will help you stay calm:
- Sit comfortably with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for 4 seconds. The hand on your stomach should rise, while the hand on your chest should move very little.
- Hold the breath for 2 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for 6 seconds, pushing out at much air as you can. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
- Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on keeping a slow and steady breathing pattern of 4-in, 2-hold, and 6-out.
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Finding The Right Therapist & Treatment Modality
You have learned about the different psychotherapies, about possible medications, and you are equipped with some basic tips for social anxiety.
In this section, you will learn how to initiate treatment.
Who do you turn to? Who accounts for the treatment costs? What is better for you, individual or group therapy? Is online treatment a valid option?
Lets get answers!
Reduce Caffeine And Alcohol
While adding probiotics to your diet might help lessen some social anxiety, a couple of things could also make it worse including that morning cup of coffee or energy drink. Older research shows caffeine can increase feelings of panic and anxiety in people who already experience anxiety.
And in an animal study, consuming more caffeine in adolescence was linked to higher levels of anxiety in adulthood.
Like caffeine, alcohol may not be the best option if youre looking to reduce feelings of social anxiety. Some people use alcohol as a social lubricant, and it can work in the short term. But if using alcohol to soothe social anxiety becomes a habit, it can make you feel more anxious in regular settings over time.
Some research also suggests that alcohol could increase anxiety in shy people the day after drinking it. Even moderate amounts can affect your mood and anxiety level, so its a good idea to be mindful about how often you use it to take the edge off anxiety in social settings.
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Adopt A Healthier Lifestyle To Reduce Anxiety
The mind and body are linked and how you treat your body can have a significant impact on the rest of your life including your anxiety levels. By making small lifestyle changes, these can help to improve your self-confidence and your ability to cope with anxiety symptoms. Avoid or limit your caffeine intake by not drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks after a certain time. Energy drinks act as a stimulant and can increase anxiety symptoms. Make physical exercise a priority in your day and always try to be active at some point, even taking a brisk walk during your lunch hour is a great way to fit it in.
In a 2015 study, researchers found that young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer anxiety symptoms. This was most effective in those with the greatest genetic risks for social anxiety disorder. The same study also concluded that exercise was related to reduced social anxiety.
Drink alcohol only in moderation, although it may feel like it calms your nerves, it can also increase your chances of having an anxiety attack. Drink plenty of water, stay hydrated and get enough high-quality sleep. When youre deprived of sleep, youre much more vulnerable to anxiety and your mood can be affected greatly. New research suggests that sleep deprivation can actually cause an anxiety disorder.
Identify The Emotion Behind Your Idea
Anyone trying to get an idea off the ground needs to ask two questions: “Why am I doing this?” and “Why does it deserve to exist?” If you haven’t articulated those things to yourself, you’re more likely to give up and not endure through difficult business situations. “That emotion has a massive impact, not only on your ability to persist and endure, but also in converting other people into advocates and partners for what you’re doing,” he says.
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Check In With Yourself
When youre out in public and start feeling anxious, its easy to spiral and become fixated on everything that appears to be going wrong, even if youre the only one feeling that way. In the moment, you need to focus outside of yourself and remind yourself, This is probably anxiety. I cant read their mind. I do not know what theyre actually thinking of me, Dr. Potter says.
This is easier said than done, of course, so she suggests using a technique called five senses that can help you regain perspective and stay in the moment. Do a check-in with yourself of all of your five senses to get yourself more externally focused. Distract yourself from unpleasant internal sensations and negative thoughts, says Dr. Potter. Then you can try to refocus on: What are they actually saying to me? What else is going on right now? What can I see? What can I hear? What can I feel?
Talk With A Therapist
Despite what some people might suggest, social anxiety goes beyond shyness, or feeling uneasy and nervous around new people. Social anxiety is a mental health condition, and its not always possible to work through symptoms yourself.
You can do a lot on your own to manage the anxiety and distress you experience, but getting professional support is always a good place to start.
A trained mental health professional can:
- offer more insight on the difference between social anxiety and shyness
- help you identify social anxiety triggers
- teach helpful coping strategies, social skills, and relaxation techniques
- offer guidance with challenging and replacing or reframing negative thoughts
Therapy also offers a safe environment to practice navigating anxiety-provoking situations through graduated exposure, one potential treatment for social anxiety.
Your therapist might recommend group therapy or support groups, which give you the chance to practice social skills and interact with other people also coping with social anxiety.
A therapist can also refer you to a psychiatrist, who can prescribe medication for social anxiety. Medication can provide some relief from severe symptoms, making it easier to start working through them in therapy.
Tips To Solve Social Anxiety Problems In Kids
But not all is so gloomy. Everything has a solution. And social anxiety does, too. Need more good news? Parents themselves can do it in their own homes.
1) Talking: When it comes to any form of therapy, talking is the first course of action to help remedy the ailment. It is how it works for adults, and it is true for children as well. Professional therapists can do wonders, too. But children will be more comfortable and forthcoming with their parents in sharing their problems. And not every session has to be about problem-solving or solution-providing. In fact, the main idea of making your child talk is for you to listen to them. Sometimes, that is all that is neededthem needing to talk.
2) Breathing Techniques: Meditation helps even the most stressed/miserable of stockbrokers or accounts. It sure works wonders for children. Parents can show their kids the soothing effect oxygen has on the brain. Teach them to take several deep breaths when they feel anxiety creeping up from their stomachs and constricting their throats. It is easy on paper but somewhat challenging to implement because children cant remember what to do when facing incredible odds.
3) Anatomy: If your kid is mature enough, then explaining the harmful effects anxiety has on the body and mind is in order. Show them videos or buy them books about anxiety. When they know how detrimental it is to their lives, they will try to cure it themselves.
Simple Steps To Feeling More Socially Confident
Social anxiety disorder is often misunderstood, and many people could be suffering in silence. Its much more than feeling shy and not wanting to speak up in big groups. It can really take control and impede your everyday life. Anxiety Care UK states that social anxiety is a common and distressing condition, with as many as 40 percent of the population suffering from it.
Young People With Social Anxiety
Experiencing social anxiety and fear of social interactions can make simple responsibilities almost impossible to overcome. An estimated 15 million American adults have social anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, with young adolescents who are transitioning to secondary school or college being particularly vulnerable. Its suggested that social anxiety disorder symptoms usually begin around the age of 13.
The good news is that there are ways to develop new habits to help ease and overcome your social anxiety.
1. Challenge your negative and anxious thoughts. At times it may feel like theres nothing you can do about the way you feel and how you think. In reality, though, there are a number of things that can help.
4. Create an exposure hierarchy. Identify and rate how each social situation makes you feel in terms of anxiousness. For example, 0 would mean no anxiety, and 10 would be a full-blown panic attack.
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