Stop missing out! How to Deal with Social Anxiety

For some of us, social anxiety arises only when we’re at a party full of people we don’t recognize, or when we’re standing in a busy crowd of people. For others, social anxiety seems to creep up on a daily basis—no matter the circumstance—and can cripple you and render you uncomfortable, stressed, and anxious.

Social anxiety isn’t very fun to deal with and can even make someone refuse to go out or do certain things in an attempt to avoid anxiety altogether. You may cancel your plans to go to a birth day party because the thought of social interaction seems unbearable. You may have postponed or simply never shown up to a job interview because you were too nervous about it. Social anxiety can make people want to cocoon into themselves and never come out. However, treatment is available–it does not need to govern your life. There are plenty of ways to help you face your social anxiety head on!

Here are some tips that you can keep in mind to help make your social anxiety more manageable:

Know your boundaries, but also try to beat them: No one learns or improves if they stay in their comfort zone, so it’s important to try things that may make you a little bit anxious just for the sake of realizing that you are capable of doing this thing! But be gentle with yourself and don’t stretch yourself too far beyond your values or general boundaries.

Breathe, breathe, breathe: Yes, social anxiety can make you feel like you’re about to pass out or throw up, and that can reinforce the idea that you need to run or hide or be scared of what you’re dealing with (because why would my body be so anxious if there wasn’t something to be anxious about, right?). But, in those moments, please take a deep breath, (and again, and again, and again, as needed) and realize that this anxiety comes not from an actual physical threat, but from fear and apprehension you have internalized. So, breathe to realize you aren’t actually dying, and that this moment is fleeting. It will help regulate and re-stabilize your body into a sense of ease or calm.

Rely on a support system: Friends/family can make your experiences (even the really scary ones) more comfortable, so don’t be afraid to employ a close pal as moral support at a party or in a crowd. If you have social anxiety on what seems like a regular basis, and not exclusively in certain stress-inducing situations, then connect yourself with people in your environment who can help you create a sense of safety and ease in your daily life.

Visualization: Visualizing before the fact can help ease tension and prepare yourself for what’s to come, so close your eyes and try to imagine how things may play out so that you feel more at ease with yourself and the situation.

Achieve your goals: For those who struggle with severe social anxiety, setting small goals can boost confidence and validate your own ability/competence to do anything you want. You don’t need to combat all your anxiety in one shot, but getting a small thing done or having a conversation with a stranger when you never thought you could will help you feel capable and confident.

There are many ways that social anxiety can be experienced, and many ways to deal with it. It’s a multi-faceted and personal thing, and should be treated as such. This means it’s up to you to recognize what you may need. Regardless, you should not be chained down by your social anxiety.

– Nazila Tolooei

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