Social anxiety – 5 tips to overcome social anxiety
Do you struggle with social anxiety? Whether it’s in your career, relationships or socially, social anxiety, with all that worry about what other people think or that they will judge you negatively in some way, along with all those inner thoughts and questions – such as “am I good enough, what if I make an idiot of myself or embarrass myself”, and so on – can really limit your life.
Whether you feel sick at the thought of public speaking, find excuses for social events or you push through and hope they are soon over, social anxiety can really limit your life, take away the enjoyment of meeting and connecting with people and the anxiety and worry can stop you doing things you want to do.
In this article, I’ll be covering how to deal with social anxiety and giving you 5 strategies that can help you overcome that panic and worry.
Do you struggle with anxiety around other people? Do you excessively worry about what they think about you, that they will judge you negatively, that they will think you are an idiot or boring or in some way not good enough?
I’m not talking about feeling a bit uncomfortable around new people or when giving a presentation or speech, because social anxiety is much more intense than that.
For years I battled with my social anxiety until I found the methods that work to stop all that worry about what other people think. I used to believe that I wasn’t good enough, and I’d worry intensely about being judged or what people thought about what I said or did or how I looked or behaved.
The fear and worry could be so intense that I might cancel going to meet people, fake being sick to avoid giving a presentation, avoid speaking to people on the phone, or I’d need a couple of drinks when going out socially to help me relax and dampen down all that inner discomfort so I could ‘be myself’.
Meeting new people, giving presentations, speaking in front of others, interviews, speaking on the phone and any other situation where there was scope to be criticised or judged would cause me to worry, dwell, feel on edge and tense. I felt like I couldn’t be me, like I wasn’t normal in some way or that I had some split personality thing where sometimes I could feel relaxed and ok, and yet other times I’d struggle to speak and interact.
Social anxiety can mean that you feel fearful and anxious for days, weeks or even months before an event. You may just avoid things to avoid feeling uncomfortable around others or perhaps you initially agree only to find that as the event gets closer the anxiety levels rise and you’d do anything to get out of it.
Common triggers for social anxiety are situations like meeting new people, being the centre of attention, speaking in groups, giving presentations, making small talk, speaking on the phone or eating in public.
As I’ve mentioned, it’s common to feel a little bit nervous or tense in these sorts of situations but social anxiety is much more intense and can lead to intense feelings of panic; depending on its scale you may find your heart pounding, restless, on edge, sweating, shaking and your mind racing or going blank.
How to Deal With Social Anxiety
If you struggle with social anxiety in any or all of these situations around others then here are 5 strategies you can employ from today that will really help you feel calmer and enjoy meeting people and doing things:
1. Learn how to quickly relax by controlling your breathing
When you feel anxious, your breathing gets faster and shallower, you start breathing higher up in your chest and you start to feel more anxious and on edge.
If you just carry on breathing in that way you’ll notice your heart pounding, you feel hotter, on edge, maybe shaky and all those thoughts kick in so your social anxiety starts screaming don’t go there, don’t say that or get me out of here.
To quickly relax you want to slow your breathing and make it deeper. The key thing is to have your out breath longer than your in breath – so practice breathing in for a count of 7 and out for 11. Do this a few times and you’ll soon feel calmer and more in control.
Practice this everyday, making sure that out breath is a bit longer, and practice it even if you don’t need it right then, so that next time you are around others you can quickly and easily do 7/11 breathing to feel calmer and think more clearly.
2. Take control of your thoughts.
Social anxiety is fuelled by your thoughts and imagination. You worry about an upcoming social situation and vividly play out all the worst case scenarios in your mind, or imagine making an idiot of yourself or somehow embarrassing yourself or other people judging you. And the more you think of it, the more anxious you feel. As the event approaches your imagination can go into overdrive, dominating your thoughts and even keeping you up at night.
So rather than programming your mind for anxiety, start focusing on what you do want to happen. Imagine how you do want to feel, act and react – calm, confident and in control. Imagine things going ok being relaxed around others and smiling as you interact.
You can do this anytime you feel relaxed or use the free audio on this website that will help you with this.
3. Use your thinking brain
When you feel anxious, it becomes harder to think – you might find your thoughts racing or you just go blank, as those anxious feelings grow stronger.
So to dampen that anxiety you can use the thinking part of your brain, that part you use when you feel calm and can think logically and clearly.
If you find the anxiety and worry and those social anxiety thoughts taking over then start counting backwards in your head from 300 in 3s, so: 300…297…294 and so on. You don’t need to get to zero just get your thinking brain working for a while and soon you’ll notice that you feel calmer and those thoughts have disappeared.
4. Be interested rather than interesting
Social anxiety leads you to get lost inside your head, trying to work out what others are thinking, what you should be saying, what will happen if you say it…you get lost internally in your thoughts and you can even lose track of what the other person is saying, making it harder to respond.
So shift those thoughts from inside your head and onto whoever you are talking to, smile, ask questions, listen to what they are saying and focus on being interested in them rather than desperately trying to make sure that you are being interesting enough.
You are good enough, you just need to learn to relax, to be yourself, like you do when you are around people you feel more comfortable around.
5. Seek out situations
The more you avoid something because of worry and anxiety, the more the anxiety grows. If you never get out there and take action then you’ll never make progress.
So use these social anxiety tips and actively seek our opportunities to be around others. The more you do this, the more normal it will start to feel and the easier you will find it.
Overcome Social Anxiety
Put these 5 strategies in place and start diluting that social anxiety and if you need expert help so you can feel socially calm and confident, and look forward to getting out there connecting and engaging, then take that courageous first step to get in touch and ask to book your free initial consultation.
To your success,
Overcome Social Anxiety Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket
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