how to overcome social anxiety

5 Effective Methods on How to Overcome Social Anxiety

Are u looking out for methods on how to overcome social anxiety!

Yes. You heard it right. I said ‘methods’ and not ‘method’.

There are umpteen ways where you can overcome social anxiety.

When I realized that I had started slipping into social anxiety at the beginning of the isolation, two thoughts crossed my mind:

Is it possible to overcome social anxiety?

And

How to overcome social anxiety fast?

After doing my research I figured that it was in fact possible for us to overcome social anxiety and that for an efficient and wholesome recovery, I would have to integrate multiple methods that suited me.

Although social anxiety can be completely overcome in most cases, hardly 20- 25% of people suffering from it actually look for and actively undergo treatment.

Professional treatment is available and effective. However, you might be averse to opening up to strangers (even professionals) and so shun treatment altogether.

This could push you further down the rabbit’s hole.

Social anxiety is a precariously sensitive condition and requires some help if not all. This help could be self-help, help from friends and family, and peers on some occasions too. Let’s explore some of these options.

How to overcome social anxiety on your own?

Here are 5 self-help methods to help you overcome social anxiety.

1.  Improve social skills

As humans, we are naturally social creatures. We live in a society and we are groomed to adapt to it, learn from it, and grow with it.

Learning a few societal skills will go a long way to help cope with social anxiety.

how to overcome social anxiety, Improve social skills

A. Be Assertive

There are three types of reactions in any given situation: Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive.

If you suffer from social anxiety disorder, a crucial step of how to overcome social anxiety disorder would be training yourself to be assertive.

Here are some tips on being assertive:

  • Staying calm when provoked or opposed in a conversation.
  • Remember to be receptive and respectful towards others’ opinions when stating your own.
  • Practise interacting with people who you are most comfortable with like friends and family.
  • Be on social media groups or internet- based group of like-minded people for acceptable durations of time.  
  • Improve communication skills by practising with peers before an event is due.

Keep in mind: Social anxiety might come in bursts and is mostly situational but will be tough to deal with on the spot. To reduce the overwhelming surge, practice beforehand.

B. Learn to use body language and signs

Always remember your body speaks a lot about what is brewing in your mind. If you are someone that avoids social settings, there is a good chance your body has forgotten some of its own signs and ways of communicating.

While certain tips might seem daunting at first, when worked upon on a regular basis, these skills can be incorporated naturally into your behavior and actions.

Here are some body language tips you can use to communicate better:

  • Work on being more of an ‘open’ person, someone who is easy to approach and talk to.
  • Slouching, looking down, faking a smile, avoiding eye contact, folding your arms, fidgeting are some habits to be avoided. They are strong signs of nervousness and might take longer to break.
  • Instead focus on sporting a real smile, standing up tall, making eye contact as often as possible, leaning forward to reduce space and enhance connection. Practise these in front of a mirror or with a peer.
  • A firm hand shake is also a sign of confidence, so practise your handshakes before a meeting.

C. Learn to speak your mind and speak it well

Some people are gifted with the talent of speaking well, however, most of us are not.

Speaking your mind is an important asset but it is not a talent; it is a skill.

Just like driving a car! The more you drive the better you get at it!

Here are few tips to speak your mind and converse well in a social situation:

  • Try to be the first to spark a conversation. This is a healthy habit to build. To practise this, try asking your barista how his/ her day was.
  • Talking won’t always be easy. Sometimes a person might not respond. Avoid mulling over it too much. Always remember it was worth a shot.
  • Be yourself. Start by speaking on small topics and give your honest opinions. Ask question and clear your doubts in the moment to get a clear idea of the other person’s point of view.
  • Be respectful about others in a conversation and be polite when excusing yourself from one.  
  • Try to build connections by practising conversations through shared activities like yoga, walking, shopping, sports and over a cup of coffee.

Before you venture deeper into self-help methods, check out our article on testing for social anxiety- Social Anxiety Disorder Test: myths and facts discussed

2.  Practise emotional coping

You might think: How can I calm my social anxiety when it handicaps me emotionally?

Here are a few simple day-to-day routine steps that will help sail you through your anxiety:

how to overcome social anxiety, Practise emotional coping

A.  Practise Yoga:

  • Practise deep breathing: Also known as pranayama, this technique involves inhaling sharply in 3 seconds, followed by exhaling slowly in a relaxed manner in 5 seconds, 4 to 5 times in a day for 5 minutes.
  • Meditate: Meditation is a strong and effective method to alleviate stress and anxiety. You will learn to remain calm over an extended period of time and it will become easier with practise.

Remember: A sound mind leads to a happy body.

B. Rehearse optimistic approach:

  • Recollect the situations that made you anxious and try to see the positive side of these events.
  • Identify what previously went wrong in an event. Avoid getting into the same problem again. If there was a hiccup, prepare a plan of action to overcome it in case of another time.
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Like if your mind says, I’m going to embarrass myself, say: I’m going to kill it! Enjoy it!
  • Meditation from our previous method would help you overcome the clutter of thoughts in your mind and help see things more clearly.
  • Take small steps like retelling a funny memory you have of yourself to people you know and as you get better, even to strangers.
  • Start by reading up on current affairs, local news, food, beverages or anything that matches your likes. These are good points of interest to start a conversation or discussion.

C. Reduce negative thinking:

  • Teach yourself not to take everything personally like a comment made by someone, a simple gesture like yawning as you speak, someone disagreeing with you.
  • Avoid attempting to predict events or what people might be thinking. Both the anticipation and any disappointment that follows will only add to your anxiety.
  • Negative thoughts and emotions tend to attract more negative thoughts and emotions, both your own and of others. Consciously reduce negative thoughts as and when they arise.
  • If you had a negative experience before, during or after a social interaction, sit with it and pen down the negative aspects and try to garner strength to overcome them or try alternatives.

3.  Connect to people about social anxiety

The best remedy for most mental health problems is discussing these problems. Holding your problems in would just lead to a build-up and keep you on edge.

Nobody likes to feel like a balloon just about to explode at any moment.

Sometimes, family does not make the cut and we might need to put our trust in friends.

The question that most people ask is: How do I make friends with social anxiety?

how do I make friends with social anxiety, Connect with people about social anxiety

Here are some tips to make friends when you suffer from social anxiety:

  • Find online groups and seminars on social anxiety disorder. Participate in these events, talk to other people suffering from SAD.
  • Talk to an old friend who you have lost touch with. Make sure this person is a patient listener who is open to rekindling a friendship.
  • Your existing friends are a good stop on this journey. Try communicating your symptoms with the most trusted people and ask for their advice to overcome your problems.
  • If talking is a barrier, write down your symptoms in a diary and ask a family member or friend to read it. They can then help you practise some self-help methods.
  • Find a friend in a therapist that you might plan to visit for professional help.

4.  Incorporate life style changes from home

Just like home workout exercises, there are a few techniques on how to overcome social anxiety disorder from the comforts of your home.

Sounds like COVID-19 can’t stop you either.

How to overcome social anxiety fast, Incorporate lifestyle changes from home

Here are some lifestyle changes you can make from home:

  • Try to engage in some physical exercise at least 15 to 20 minutes whether in the morning, evening or noon, as it suits your routine. Even an exercise as simple as walking will help you shed weight and in turn overcome any insecurities therein.
  • Any form of exercise can help release endorphins (happy hormones) in the body which will elevate your spirit and help overcome nervousness.
  • Try and catch up on nothing less than 8 hours of sleep. This will help your body as well as your mind to rejuvenate and reduces stress hormones.
  • We all know that nothing can beat a wholesome nutritious meal. Maintaining a healthy balanced diet, eating the right super foods will help boost the antioxidants, enzyme activity and help reduce stress.
  • Avoid consumptions of intoxicating drinks, drugs, excessive caffeine or sugar-loaded products. They tend to give a temporary high but quickly plunge you into a harrowing depression.
  •  Participate in some sort of social activity. If you are a foodie, having lunch with a close acquaintance or family would help to start with. See your plans through and try to observe yourself when there.
  • Seek guidance from a professor, store personnel, tour guide or other strangers to overcome avoiding socialising.
  • Make appropriate and safe compliments to strangers. Make sure not to come off as too strong or creepy and don’t make the attempt look forced.

5.  Avoid making some common mistakes

Learning how to overcome social anxiety is one thing and practicing them on a regular basis is another.

Like every other endeavor, efforts made to overcome social anxiety must be constant without pushing your boundaries too much. Otherwise, like every overdone workout session, you will face burnout.

how to overcome social anxiety, Avoid making common mistakes

Here are a few tips to avoid making mistakes in your journey:

  • Make a conscious effort to work on your anxiety but don’t go too hard on yourself. If you see the experience as something that causes discomfort, you will try to avoid change.
  • Do not aim to go from socially inept to a social butterfly overnight. Take your own time whether it be weeks, months or years. At the same time, do not lose hope.
  • Always remember you have the capacity to make changes to yourself. Do not let social anxiety trap you in the vicious cycle of disbelief.
  • Do not harbour unrealistic expectations as they can lead to disappointments if you don’t live up to your own set standards. Take small steps towards achievable goals.
  • Ask yourself “What is the root cause of social anxiety in my case?” and adopt methods that suit you best to overcome it before it progresses.
  • Do not hesitate to seek medical attention if self-help methods are not enough or have stopped working in your case.

Warning: Even though both Social Anxiety Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder share certain symptoms, they are not the same. Here’s an article to give you an insight into- General Anxiety Disorder

Key: While these methods help you overcome your fears and anxiety, you might even lend a helping hand to others in need by opening up, communicating, and leading by example.

Now that you have explored some of the best self-help methods on how to overcome social anxiety, you might wonder why is it important to try them?

Let’s learn why.

How does social anxiety affect day to day life?

If you are a person that tends to think ‘Is social anxiety serious?’ The answer to your question is ‘Yes. Absolutely!’.

Though a common disorder, social anxiety is spreading across the youth age groups and adult age groups fast.

However, the type of cure you need, whether medical, self-help or both depends on the degree to which social anxiety affects you or how it interferes with your daily functioning.

If you are a person that tends to think ‘Is social anxiety serious?’ The answer to your question is ‘Yes. Absolutely!’.

Though a common disorder, social anxiety is spreading across the youth age groups and adult age groups fast.

However, the type of cure you need, whether medical, self-help or both depends on the degree to which social anxiety affects you or how it interferes with your daily functioning.

How does social anxiety affect day-to-day life

Social Anxiety can hamper a lot of activities in our daily lives. It might become difficult to function in social situations both in personal life and the professional world.

Simple tasks like visiting a grocery store, ordering a coffee, walking into the next room, and asking for help with something would also seem daunting.

Avoiding meetings, conferences, dates, parties, reunions and other social gatherings might become a habit.

People suffering from SAD would rather spend time in isolation than seek help from professionals. This may not be an active choice they make but they might become so phobic to social situations that escaping any such occasion would seem like the easiest way out.

Like all of us, people suffering from social anxiety also search for the path of least resistance. The answer to all their problems according to them would be ‘avoidance’.

However sometimes, like in professional environments, avoiding a situation might become impossible and, in such cases, anxiety might spiral out of your control.

You might start showing symptoms as you shake and sweat due to nervousness and blush when faced with an embarrassing situation. This does not look good.

Incorporating self-help methods could help us overcome social anxiety in our own time.

Also read: 6 Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment Methods: Medico therapy.

Conclusion

We all want to avoid unnecessary expenses and this could also mean not taking professional therapy when it is not absolutely necessary. Beyond a certain threshold, medical intervention might become essential for recovery but up till the point of threshold, you can employ self-help methods and coping mechanisms to overcome the problem. It is advisable to approach a medical professional to get an idea about the degree to which social anxiety is a hindrance in your life before you choose the therapy that suits you. Doctors will study your case thoroughly before recommending whether you should choose self-help methods or undergo medical treatment. Through this article, you will learn some sustainable solutions to overcome social anxiety.

Looking forward to seeing you walk the right path and overcome your fears.

Please drop your feedback in the comment section about how the article has influenced you.

Together we stand, together we can.

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