If you are looking for ways to overcome social anxiety, I feel this article will give you some encouragement and practical advice.
Yes, social anxiety, that sneaky little gremlin that whispers sweet nothings of doom into your ear right before a social event.
Today, we’re about to spill the tea on social anxiety’s not-so-secret identity, showcase its top 10 most wanted signs and symptoms (because who doesn’t love a good countdown?), and throw in some non-basic, cheerleader-on-Red-Bull level encouragement to help you kick social anxiety’s butt.
And by non-basic, we mean we’re skipping the “just breathe” and “think positive” tips. No, we’re not doing that today. We’re going deep, we’re getting real, because, let’s face being real is the best medicine (second only to actual medicine, please consult your doctor).
So, buckle up, grab your metaphorical sword, and let’s show social anxiety that it picked the wrong brain to mess with. And remember, even Batman had his off days, but he still rocked that cape like a boss.
In this article, we will share some practical ways to overcome social anxiety.
What Is Social Anxiety?
Social Anxiety Disorder is the perception that there is something embarrassing and disgusting about us, and unless we hide it, it will reveal and people will judge us.
Social Anxiety is generated by the insecurities we have about a feature of ourselves that we hate.
First off, let’s get one thing straight: social anxiety is NOT a one-size-fits-all designer label that you’re stuck with for life.
It’s more like a pair of jeans you bought when skinny jeans were a thing, and now you’re wondering why you can’t breathe every time you wear them.
Spoiler alert: you can definitely switch up your wardrobe!
You might be thinking, “But wait, is social anxiety really that common?” Oh, absolutely! It’s like the pineapple on pizza debate – more people experience it than you think, and yes, it’s totally normal to have mixed feelings about it.
“Social anxiety is like self-consciousness on steroids”
I don’t remember where I heard that quote, but it stuck well within me. Being a natural introvert myself, I’ve dealt with social anxiety as a kid and teenager, and my goal with this article today is to help others overcome it as well.
Examples of insecurities:
Oftentimes people have huge insecurities about how their bodies look like. Maybe you are too skinny or too overweight, or you just have some extra weight to gain/lose.
Maybe you have a scar from when you fell as a little kid, or a birthmark that you feel is disturbing to watch.
Maybe you have a big nose or big ears that you hate, or you are starting to get bald.
The feeling that you aren’t good enough, that you aren’t worthy enough, or that you are too weird to hang with these people, etc.
In a relationship, in friendships, or you get jealous about a person you saw on Instagram.
These are just some of the most common insecurities people have and might be the source of social anxiety. If any of the above is applicable to you, then you’ll be familiar with most of the symptoms.
What are the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?
The symptoms of Social Anxiety can be divided into 3 categories.
- Blushing too easily.
- Feeling uncomfortable around people.
- Heart pumping too fast.
- Shaking or trembling.
- Sweating too much.
- Difficulty in talking, messing many words.
- Low confidence and self-esteem.
- Negative and self-sabotaging thoughts.
- Feeling of not being worthy enough.
- Feeling of being judged no matter what.
- Worrying too much about upcoming social events.
- Feeling mentally exhausted after social encounters.
- Planning ahead what you’ll do or say in social situations.
- Avoiding social situations.
- Being silent, in fear of being judged.
- Using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
- Canceling plans at the last minute.
- Not letting yourself ‘open up’ to people.
How To Overcome Social Anxiety?
As I said at the beginning of this article, I struggled with social anxiety as a kid and it worsened as a teenager.
I had anxiety over taking exams in a room full of other students, worrying what they were thinking about me (what if I was the last ione to finish my test??).
But the biggest struggle for me was social interaction. I remember not being able to speak to my own friends, in case they might judge me or think that I’m weird.
I couldn’t keep eye contact with a person for more than 3 seconds, it felt weird and awkward. The thought of speaking to someone that I liked, let alone actually saying hello, intimidated me.
Today, I’ve dealt with all these problems. At first, it was difficult to escape my comfort zone, to make conscious changes to my belief system and my character in general.
But, I’m not afraid anymore of social situations, I actually enjoy them. I no longer have negative thoughts 24/7 making me feel less worthy.
And because I did it, most certainly you can do it too.
Below I list the steps and actions that I took to overcome my Social Anxiety:
Identify the problem.
Identify when your Social Anxiety occurs. When talking to someone you like? When you have to make a presentation in front of a big group of people? While you are at a party? At a family table? In your own group of friends?
Identifying it is the first big step to overcoming it.
Take care of yourself.
No, it’s not selfish to focus on you, instead, taking care of yourself is one of the best presents you can give to your mind and body. You must be your biggest priority.
Improve your physical health.
Start taking care of yourself by working out and eating healthy.
Working out is associated with:
Even small periods of exercise can help you regulate sleeping patterns. Higher self-esteem/ confidence. Working out and seeing results can make you feel better with yourself and your overall appearance. You’ll feel strong and powerful, and when you meet certain fitness goals, you’ll feel a sense of achievement.
When you face difficult challenges in your life, exercise can help you build resilience and cope in a healthy fashion.
When you start and get your blood flowing, you’ll feel more motivated to do certain things.
Exercising is a treatment for mild to moderate depression.
You take the benefits of an anti-depressant medication- without the side effects. Working out is a natural anti-anxiety treatment. When you are working out, your body releases endorphins that make you feel happy.
Here are some other things you can do, that I find can help to manage social anxiety:
Recite Positive affirmations.
Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts.
The logic behind this is that you stop the constant negative talk that your brain does, and change it with something positive instead. You essentially focus on the good things and discard the bad.
Meditation was one of the most important actions that I took to overcome my Social Anxiety. Meditating even 5-10 minutes a day has many benefits to our minds such as:
- Stress reduction.
- Anxiety reduction: Less stress equals less anxiety.
- Enhances Self-Awareness
- Enhances Self-Esteem
- Better focus: The mind doesn’t drift away as much.
- Lengthens attention span
- Sense of peacefulness and calmness throughout the day.
Read Self-Development books.
Reading a self-development book alongside meditation can really change the way you feel about yourself and the people around you.
This combination will teach you how to love yourself and accept your imperfections. The best self-improvement book that I ever read is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson.
People have their own life.
You have to understand, that, people have their own insecurities and problems too. Most of the time, they won’t even notice the thing that you are the most afraid of being judged, because they are too busy dealing with theirs.
Even if they notice, I bet that at the end of the day, they’ll have forgotten that little thing that you are embarrassed about.
No one is perfect.
No human being on this planet is perfect. We all have our insecurities; we all have our faults. And most certainly, we all make mistakes. No one is perfect, so stop trying to be.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
This goes hand in hand with the step above.
All these models and influencers you see on Social Media? They are fake. Social Media is a place where people upload their best moments. No one is posting the bad things that they are going through, their bad habits, addictions, etc.
Solution: Unfollow everyone on Social Media that doesn’t make you feel good or happy.
The only person you should compare yourself with is YOU.
You should compare with your older versions. Consciously ask yourself: “What I can do to be better than before?”
Every second that passes by comparing yourself to others, is a wasted second that you could use to better your situation, so change your mindset.a
Check out this article about what self-improvement really is, and why you need it. It’s worth a read!
Make a list:
- About the best features you have and love about yourself. This can be either external or internal characteristics e.g. your smile, body, kindness, good sense of humor… You get the point.
Whenever you feel bad about yourself, you can go back to this list and remember all the things that make you special.
- About the things that you’ve dealt with in the past better than you expected. Give yourself some credit for the days you made it when you thought you couldn’t.
Have a success buddy.
Have a person that you can trust and rely on whilst being on this journey of overcoming social anxiety. Talk to them about your day, about the things that you’ve accomplished, and the things that bothered you.
Having company is a crucial factor for your success.
Ask for professional help.
If you feel that everything that you’ve tried, hasn’t been effective, you should probably get some piece of advice from a professional. Either way, I’m not a professional, I’m just sharing my personal experiences.
Social anxiety is no joke. In fact, overcoming it doesn’t show weakness, it shows strength and courage that you are actively trying to be a better version of yourself!
If you feel that this article helped you even in the slightest, please comment down below, I will be very glad to hear that!