As time goes on, we hear the term social anxiety more and more. It is a common disorder worldwide. The Social Anxiety Institute states that the biggest indicators of this disorder are:
- Being introduced to other people
- Being teased or criticized
- Having all of the attention on yourself
- Knowing you’re being watched while doing something
- Meeting people in authority (“important people”)
- Most social encounters, especially with strangers
- Going around the room (or table) in a circle and having to say something
- Interpersonal relationships, whether friendships or romantic
Ranking as the third highest anxiety disorder, more and more of us are looking for ways to ease our feelings of discomfort in social situations.
Tips on overcoming social anxiety
For those who have difficulty in unfamiliar social settings, here are a few tips that may ease the anxiety:
- Sharing your anxieties. There is nothing wrong with feeling anxious, but many people feel uncomfortable or embarrassed talking about how they are feeling. The irony is that hiding or suppressing those feelings can make them worse. If you are feeling socially anxious, tell someone you are close to.
- Try a breathing technique. Breathing exercises have been shown to help soothe anxiety, therefore, focusing on breathing can help take your mind off of what is causing your anxiety. Once you control your breathing and focus on slower breaths, your heart rate slows down, as well as your mind.
- Remember that your thoughts are not reality. A challenge we face when it comes to controlling this disorder is remembering that our fears are not reality. Your mind is a powerful tool, and it can trick you into believing things that aren’t true. If you are experiencing anxiety, try and remember that your fears are imaginary. Of all the things you have feared, 99.99% of those fears came true.
- Shift your attention. Since anxiety is good at consuming your thoughts, focus on other things to distract yourself. For example, read a book you enjoy, get outside and enjoy nature, or try a new coffee shop that interests you.
- Face your fears. Exposure therapy can also be helpful to overcome social anxiety. One of the biggest benefits of facing your fears is seeing how small and irrelevant they have been all along.
- Don’t worry about being perfect. Remember, perfection is not real. It is just an abstract concept. By letting go of the need to be perfect, you allow yourself more room to be your self in everyday life.
- Go out of your comfort zone. Trying new things, or doing things that normally would make you uncomfortable is a great way to overcome this disorder.