Social anxiety is about more than just being shy. It can cause very real panic and stress for those who cope with it on a regular basis.
A common misunderstanding about social anxiety is that everyone has a hard-time meeting new people, but if you just put in enough effort, then almost anyone has the ability to socialize. It’s a misperception that being shy is the same thing as having social anxiety. It’s definitely not. Like any other physical or mental health disorder, social anxiety can disable a person’s facility to enjoy the same opportunities many of us take for granted on a regular basis.
Here’s a list of five simple tips you can incorporate in everyday social situations to help improve your social anxiety:
Focus on others, rather than yourself:
Remember, the people around you are often thinking of themselves and paying very little attention to whatever it is you’re doing that you might think is strange, off-putting or offensive. Observe the room and attempt to do so objectively. You’ll notice how little you’re actually being judged or misread. This can be a relaxing and relieving tactic for some people.Know that your anxiety is not as visible as you think it is. People can’t read your mind and you’re often doing a much better job of hiding your true feelings than you might think. Listen carefully to what the people around you are really saying, rather than allowing your own thoughts to spiral. It will help you focus and distract you from your anxiety.
Sometimes our habits and lifestyle choices can heighten our anxieties or irritability. Caffeine, for instance, can heighten anxiety while also surging energy levels. This can lead to sweating, pacing and other physical symptoms of anxiety— which can make social situations all the more challenging. Drinking can also heighten social anxiety for some people. While many people believe alcohol relieves social stress, it actually increases the risk of panic attacks.
Breathing exercises can make a world of difference when you’re experiencing acute anxiety or symptoms of panic. Your body changes when you become anxious, and one of these changes includes your breathing patterns. Anxiety has the propensity to quicken the pace of your breath, which disrupts the proper balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body, leading to dizziness, increased heart rate, and other physical symptoms. Breathing exercises are sometimes perceived as hokey or unhelpful, but they are often your most immediate tool for relieving anxiety and panic in the moments you need to most. Once you’ve properly put these tactics to work, you’ll notice their benefits right away. Here’s one resource for breathing exercises to help relieve anxiety:
Challenge negative thinking
It’s easy to allow negative thoughts to get the better of us and everyone is guilty of this sometimes. Allowing our darkest concerns to spiral out of control is easy, but it can be very destructive. We’re not psychics (most of us anyway), so there’s no way we can actually read other people’s minds. It’s usually unlikely that someone is thinking anything negative about you or judging you, especially when you’re worried they are. You also can’t tell the future, so do your best to stop prophesying catastrophe. There’s very little chance the world is going to end, so stop looking for clues of disaster and focus on what’s fun in the situation. Try to think positive, no matter how challenging it feels.
Do something that scares you
It’s 100% easier to stay at home and to avoid the stressors that trigger social anxiety. Netflix and wine definitely sounds better than going to a party for a lot of us, and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with this preference. But we all have to face the challenges of a new social setting at some point or another, and that’s why it’s important to make and meet social goals.
Try making a concerted effort to do something that scares you socially at least once a week, or even once a day if you’re a thrill seeker.
While these tips are helpful in a lot of instances, social anxiety can also require the assistance of a therapist. If you feel like your life is being restricted by your social anxieties, then contact the mental healthcare professionals at The Clinic On Dupont.
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