How to Overcome Social Anxiety
Everyone has moments when they feel shy or awkward. We all get nervous from time to time. And who hasn’t felt some self-consciousness when in the spotlight? Such reactions are normal and typically pass. Social Anxiety Disorder, however, is a diagnosable condition that requires your attention.
Someone with social anxiety may intensely fear being embarrassed, watched, or judged (even if it’s only in their perception). Thus, they avoid certain social scenarios. Merely thinking about these situations is enough to inspire dread. As a result, daily functioning can be disrupted. Let’s take a closer look at this problem — and its solutions.
Common Social Anxiety Triggers
Of course, there are some obvious causes, e.g. performing on stage, going on a first date, giving a public talk, meeting someone you deem to be important. Even so, many of the triggers are far less onerous, e.g.
- Making a phone call
- Getting criticized or teased
- Being watched in any way (especially when eating or drinking)
- Being required to speak up at work or school
- Interacting with new people/making small talk
- Attending any kind of social gathering
These seemingly mundane activities are usually unavoidable. Therefore, it is essential that you take steps to overcome social anxiety in any of its guises.
4 Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety
Anxiety is a very skilled and accomplished liar. In the name of protecting you, it convinces you of all kinds of self-sabotaging absurdities. Pro tip: You have the power to fact-check your internal monologue. Identify and name the anxious thoughts that arise whenever you ponder being social. Then, take as much time as you need to examine if these thoughts are based on reality. This process is not a quick fix but it’s worth the effort. It can be a game-changer.
2. Take Small Steps
Once you’ve recognized that your anxious thoughts are usually false, you can test out that result. Introduce yourself via gradual steps to situations that you believe will cause anxiety. Start with a minor fear, assess your progress, and move forward from there.
It can be incredibly helpful to keep a journal. List your social fears in order of the dread you predict they would inspire. Keep track of each effort. How did you feel? Was it what you expected? What did you learn?
3. Enlist the Help of Your Support System
As you make your way through your social anxiety list, you may wish to ask for support. Confide in loved ones and let them know you need help. Perhaps, as you work toward bigger and scarier events, you can invite a trusted friend to accompany you. The goal isn’t for you to simply focus on your friend. Instead, having them there provides the feelings of familiarity and safety.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
As you undergo such self-help steps, be sure to fortify yourself in every way possible. The stronger your well-being, the more capable you are to stretch your comfort zone. Get into a habit of practicing healthy habits in terms of sleep, eating choices, physical activity, and stress management. Perhaps most importantly, talk to yourself with kindness and patience. As touched on in #1 above, your inner voice has your best interests in mind. The trick is to not fall into patterns of shame or self-blame. Treating yourself well is a giant step toward confidence.
Reminder: Social anxiety is a diagnosable mental health disorder. If you feel socially anxious, you can always ask for help. Working with a skilled therapist is the proven path toward recovery. I invite you to contact me at your earliest convenience to get the healing started.
I offer in person and virtual therapy sessions- let’s do what’s best for you. If you are interested in speaking to me to see if we would be a good fit, please reach out. Contact me to schedule a complementary 15 minute phone consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.