Everyone experiences social anxiety at some point in their lives, especially during their teen years!
For some people it can be a reoccurring and over-powering force in their lives. This leads them to fear social events, going-out with their friends and makes them dread situations that should be other wise enjoyable. Don’t worry here are some tips on how to overcome social anxiety…
First off, let’s have a look at exactly what social anxiety is and what causes it!
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety is a nervousness or fear surrounding social events. Social anxiety can cause a person to over-think upcoming social events; their mind can often play worse-case scenarios in their head and fear being left out.
At social events people with social anxiety often feel uncomfortable and as if the whole room is looking at them and this can cause them to blush, tremble, feel nauseas, draw blanks and cause their hearts to beat faster than usual. A side of effect of this is people with social anxiety choosing not to speak, look people in the eye or speak in a really soft tone.
Social anxiety can often ruin what are supposed to be enjoyable events for people. While social anxiety can feel crippling to the person experiencing it, often leading them to avoid social events full stop, there are certain measures a person suffering from social anxiety can take to start enjoying social events the way they would like.
What causes social anxiety?
Social anxiety can be caused by a number of different situations that involve you interacting with a large group of people. Typical situations where social anxiety presents itself include:
- Meeting new people
- Performing on a stage
- Socialising with a group of people you don’t know that well
- Being the centre of attention
- Meeting someone new one-on-one, i.e. going on a date
- Going to an event where there is a large group of people
- Making phone calls
- Doing a presentation
- Eating or drinking in public
What to do if you are suffering from social anxiety
Recognise that you have it
The first step to overcoming social-anxiety is recognising that this is what you are experiencing. Analyse how you feel about social events and how you feel when you know you have an upcoming event. If you find that you are filled with anxiety at the thought or a party or hanging out with a large group of people (even if you know them) chances are experiencing social anxiety. But don’t worry this is something we all go through and there are things you can do to help.
Face your fears
The best way to overcome social anxiety is by just doing it!
Just going to that party, or meeting up with that group of people. Nine times out of ten you will realise that most of the anxiety and worry you were feeling was all in your head and it actually wasn’t that bad at all! The more you get used to going to the events that scare you, the more comfortable you will become and your social anxiety will start to ease!
Talk to a friend about it
A problem shared is a problem halved! If you are experiencing anxiety about an upcoming event, reach out to a friend and explain to them how you are feeling.
They may be able to offer some advice on what to do and reassure you that it will be ok. If the friend is going to the event with you even better as having someone at the event who you know is aware of how you are feeling will help make the situation less daunting as you know they are there. If you are feeling anxious you can say it to them and they can act a source of support at the event!
Focus on your breathing
If you notice you are starting to feel anxious at a social events pay close attention to your breathing.
When you start to feel anxious your breathing is usually one of the first places you will notice its effects. Try slowing down your breathing, this will help you relax. You can always excuse yourself to a near-by bathroom or quiet corner if you feel more comfortable focusing on your breathing in private
Focus on others not on yourself
When you start to feel anxious in a social situation our minds tend to convince us that all eyes are on us.
The truth is people are usually too busy focusing on themselves! Try to focus on someone else in the group or room and pay less attention to the fact that you are feeling anxious. Anxiety loves attention so try not to give it what it is craving!
Consider getting professional help
If after trying out these tips you find you are still struggling in social situations it may be worth considering getting some professional help in terms of counselling or therapy.
If you notice that your social anxiety is causing you a lot of unhappiness and effecting your overall quality of life it may be worth your while seeking the help of a professional who can help you get your confidence and happiness back! The most the important thing is to not suffer in silence!
Social anxiety can be overcome once you recognise it and start taking positive steps to improve and feel more confident in yourself.