Everybody gets anxious in certain social circumstances. However, frequent feeling of discomfort to the extent that an individual feels anxious, is a condition of social anxiety. While it is becoming increasingly common among Americans, the fact that an individual’s professional and personal growth can be hampered by social anxiety, calls for the efforts to overcome it.
You are not alone in your fight against social anxiety. As many as 15 million people in America suffer from the disorder, making it one of the most common types of anxiety found among millennials.
However, don’t allow dread to hold you back from making every second count. Attempt these 5 tricks to help you overcome the anxiety while being in a social gathering.
5 Tips to overcome Social Anxiety
1. Do opposite of what your fear tells you to do
Your brain is constantly telling you to avoid interaction with people and situations. You often find yourself burying your head in your smartphone while sitting in a gathering of people. That’s just your escape from the fear that your mind is stimulating in your head. And while the most comforting thing in such a situation is doing as your brain says, to avoid people at all cost, don’t do it.
If your mind is telling you to not go among people, reach out to them and start a conversation. It can be a really difficult thing to do for someone who is suffering from social anxiety. However, most of the times when you do this, you prove your brain wrong when the conversations end on a great note. It’s like proving your fears wrong one mental rebellion a time.
Your smartphone might look like your safe haven but in reality, it is the worst coping mechanism against social anxiety. You might come across as awkward and under-confident when you chose people over a smartphone but guess what, you will only get better with every encounter.
2. Remould your thoughts
You are stressed and feeling anxious. You find yourself juggling irrational thoughts like “are these people judging me” or “what if I speak something wrong or do something wrong?” Your brain is hellbent on seeing the negative of everything happening around you.
One of the best coping mechanisms against such negative thoughts is the “yes, but” approach. Whenever a negative thought tries to make an entry, consider it. Acknowledge the negative thought but also provide a counter-argument. Give one argument to yourself against the negative thought that pops up. This will instantly help you to counterbalance your fears with the positive affirmation that you need the most at that moment. This is one of the most effective tips to overcome social anxiety.
Experts recommend that to make the “yes, but” trick really work, counterattack your one negative thought with three positive affirmations. That’s how you turn the table while experiencing extreme social anxiety.
3. Don’t revert to physical symptoms with negative coping
Social anxiety is not just a discomforting emotion while being with people. It actually has physical implications as well like sweating in the palms, sudden upset stomach, breaking of voice, or muscle stiffness. Very often, people experiencing social anxiety in a gathering even avoid eating anything due to sudden loss of appetite.
In any such case, the worst coping mechanism would be to counter it with substances like alcohol or drug. You might think that consuming a drink or drug will instantly make you feel confident and easy to be around people, but it doesn’t. Reckless intoxication is not an antidote but a motivator of anxiety. It can actually worsen your condition.
In fact, if you frequently consume alcohol or substances, quitting it for once and for all can help you overcome social anxiety drastically in long run.
4. Do good to someone around you
There are proven researches that testify that impact of good deeds on the mood of a person. The next time anxiety starts to engulf you while in a social setup, compliment the person sitting right before you for something small but significant. Kindness and doing good for others trigger the reward mechanism and motivation in our brains thus leading to immediate upliftment in the mood.
Doing so creates a positive environment around a person and also inside. Usually, our anxiety is the result of negative or awkward experiences that we might have had in past. The key is to replace them with the new and good ones by doing small acts of kindness.
5. Small things matter
Sight, sound, smell, contact, and taste- being conscious about your senses can assist you significantly in bringing down the anxiety. You might not know this but every time you see a picture of a loved one or think about the time you thoroughly enjoyed, you significantly reduce your anxiety symptoms.
Other small tricks to overcome social anxiety include cuddling with a pet, watering plants or eating something delightful. Even a pleasant fragrance can do the job.