If you have a presentation, job interview, or blind date coming up, you may have some anxiety about it. These types of situations can put you out of your comfort zone, so your body may respond by causing you to be a little more anxious than normal to keep you on your toes.
However, if you have social anxiety disorder, these reactions can be intense and cause you to avoid social situations altogether. If this describes you, we can help.
At Compass Mental Health & Wellness, our compassionate team can help you manage your social anxiety and gain more confidence when facing these settings.
Here are five ways to help get you started.
1. See a specialist
Each year, an estimated 40 million American adults deal with some form of anxiety. Of those individuals, approximately 15 million experience social anxiety. Unfortunately, studies also show that only 25% of people with this chronic mental health condition receive treatment.
Anxiety disorders impact people of all ages, but therapy can help. The first step to managing your condition involves an accurate diagnosis with an expert who can outline a treatment strategy based on your unique needs and symptoms.
2. Reframe your response
Living with social anxiety disorder can lead to an intense fear of judgment or rejection in social situations. Because of that, another top tip for managing this condition involves reframing the stress you experience.
You need to keep in mind that anxiety isn’t necessarily bad. As we mentioned earlier, it’s your body’s way of preparing you for a demanding situation. When you recognize the reasons behind your feelings, it can help reduce your response to things that may make you anxious.
You can also challenge negative thoughts and reactions with a positive affirmation. For example, you can use the “yes, but” technique. Instead of thinking, “I have to go to a party with a bunch of people I don’t know,” add, “but I’m funny and interesting, so I can find things to talk with them about.”
Taking these logical approaches can help you replace negative responses with more realistic and positive outcomes over time.
3. Try positive coping strategies
It can be easy to turn to negative coping methods — such as drinking alcohol — if you have social anxiety. Unfortunately, these approaches often make symptoms worse, and an estimated 20% of people with social anxiety also have alcohol use disorder.
Instead, practice positive coping strategies, such as breath control. One method involves inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose while counting to four. Then, hold the breath for two seconds before exhaling through your mouth while counting to six.
Breathing strategies can help get your physical symptoms under control by balancing the oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body. As a result, you can stay calm and avoid additional physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, and dizziness.
4. Focus on others
If social situations make you nervous, you can distract yourself by paying attention to others. That’s because the more you concentrate on someone else, the less you can focus on your anxious thoughts and feelings.
You can concentrate more on those around you by doing the following:
- Actively listening to what others are saying
- Doing something nice for someone, such as offering a compliment
- Staying in the moment and not thinking about future or past remarks
- Keeping up with current events to engage in small talk
And remember, even if someone notices that you’re nervous, that doesn’t mean they’ll think any less of you. In fact, they might feel just as nervous as you, or they may have felt like you in the past.
5. Face your fears
No one wants to be afraid. But avoiding your fears may make your social anxiety worse. Instead, take small steps to face your fears, so you can build your confidence and coping skills gradually.
One important step you can take is to turn off your smartphone in social situations. These devices can make it easy to avoid interacting with others. Furthermore, checking social media instead of engaging in face-to-face interactions may reinforce your fears and anxieties.
Other things you can do to face your social anxiety fears include:
- Volunteering to do something you enjoy
- Taking a class
- Interacting more with coworkers
- Breaking stressful social situations into smaller and easier steps
Our team also recommends taking a whole-body approach when managing anxiety by avoiding or limiting caffeine, getting regular physical activity and quality sleep, and eating a healthy diet high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Do you have social anxiety? If so, we can help you overcome your fears. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Compass Mental Health & Wellness today.