Social anxiety is more than shyness.
Most of us have experienced some sort of anxiety in a social setting. Meeting someone’s parents, a job interview, giving a speech, a party, a dinner – who hasn’t been there? Sometimes though, the feelings that come about are intense and unbearable, and the overwhelming temptation is to jet yourself well away from wherever the action is.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), is a type of anxiety disorder with a fear of interacting with people, due to worries over the possibility of being negatively scrutinised and judged by them.
It’s a fear of negative judgement, embarrassment, or rejection that does not go away and affects everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships, and work or school life. Many people occasionally worry about social situations, but someone with social anxiety feels overly worried before, during, and after them.
If you struggle with large groups of people, here are a few tips to break you out of your shell:
- Learn to recognize your triggers. Different people have different triggers, although many are pretty common. By knowing what causes you to react with anxiety, you can start to process these experiences more positively. For example:
- Do you feel anxiety when you walk into a classroom? Is it the same for maths class as it is for art class?
- Do certain people, like your boss or coworkers, trigger your anxiety?
- Do you feel anxiety in social situations and social gatherings?
- Do you feel anxious at the same place you have felt it before?
- Face your triggers: Facing your fears is always difficult and requires a lot of bravery and determination, but if you want to cure your anxiety it is something you must do.
- Practice relaxation techniques: If you’re struggling to feel comfortable in new social situations, learn ways to relax. Meditation and exercises like yoga and tai chi are techniques you can use to calm down and prepare yourself to face your challenges calmly.
- Use breathing techniques: Take a deep breath in. Now let it out. You may notice a difference in how you feel already. Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and make you feel less anxious. Some simple breathing exercises can make a big difference if you make them part of your routine.
- Pick a mantra or a “pump-up” song: Recite a comforting prayer, line of poetry, or famous quotation, something that calms you down and makes you feel at home. Find a song that inspires the confidence you can listen to as you drive to a social gathering or before a big presentation.
- Even something as simple as “I can do this” will help you centre yourself and feel confident.
- Find support: One of the hardest parts of social anxiety is that it is usually a private battle. If you want to move past your anxiety, open up to at least one person. This could be a trusted friend, a professional therapist, an online support group, or talk to us at goodmind.co . Finding someone who understands can be comforting. Having another person to talk to will also keep you accountable for your progress