Every person has experienced anxiety in public. However, not everyone has debilitating, intense episodes of fear and anxiety because of a public performance. These performances don’t need to be as big as stage performances. Still, they often involve everyday actions such as giving a presentation at work, talking to a friend, or even eating in a restaurant alone. Social anxiety causes extreme nervousness, increased heart rate, sweaty hands, racing thoughts, and other symptoms that persist throughout the “performance” and after. These can be troublesome in everyday life and leave the person who is experiencing social anxiety embarrassed. To help with social anxiety, it is important to have some coping strategies for when the anxious feelings appear. These tips can help you overcome anxious feelings and help you cope with everyday situations.
One of the best things you can do to combat social anxiety is to prepare for social events. When you make a plan for how to cope with future events, you will be more confident when they come your way. Instead of avoiding certain places, people, and situations, try preparing for them instead to boost your confidence.
An example of preparing for a social situation would be if you’re going to a party, try reading up on current news to have some things to talk about. Practice talking to yourself in the mirror to simulate a conversation. This way, when the conversation actually takes place, you will have practiced beforehand and will be prepared.
Change Your Thoughts
When you are experiencing anxiety, it is common to have racing thoughts that are typically negative in nature. You may begin thinking and overthinking until you worry yourself into a frenzy. Remember that when you are feeling anxious, it is easy to misread people’s faces and reactions because you will assume they are all negative. This will lead to more anxiety as you worry about what people are thinking of you when they are most likely just carrying on a normal conversation.
When you begin having these thoughts, in the moment or after a social situation, trying shifting your perspective. For example, if you are worried that you won’t be able to get through the night because of your anxiety, remind yourself that you have hung out with friends before and survived, and even had a good time. Do this with each negative thought as it comes. If you wait until after the situation, write down all the negative thoughts you had and then write a positive statement to combat the thought. This way you can see things from a different perspective and reduce anxiety.
Physical effects of anxiety can include a rapid heartbeat and fast, shallow breathing. These can make you feel dizzy and tense. Controlling your breathing through breathing exercises will slow it down and help reduce the other symptoms caused by anxiety.
If you find yourself in this position, try this:
- Sit down with your back straight and relax your shoulders
- Breathe in slowly for four seconds through your nose
- Hold for two seconds
- Release the air for six seconds through your mouth
- Repeat until you feel the anxiety subside
Throwing yourself into intense social situations such as parties won’t do you any good. Take baby steps when trying to get back out in public. Consider hanging out with friends at the park or taking a family member out to lunch. This will get you used to being out in public and help you practice interacting with people.
As you get more comfortable, you can begin going to bigger social events such as parties. Don’t take on too much right away, as this can make the anxiety worse. Start small and be patient. You will eventually get used to the idea of being in public and will be able to handle more social situations.
Get Out of Your Head
Instead of being trapped inside your head and only focusing on yourself and your thoughts, take a step back and observe what is happening around you. Listen to conversations and see what people are doing. This will help show you that the attention is not all on you, which can help relieve some of the anxiety.
Remember that to others, you look normal. They can’t tell you are anxious because they are so caught up in their own lives. Practice being present in the moment by taking a step back, observing, and listening.
You Are Not Alone
Remember that everyone experiences social anxiety at some point. You are not the only one who gets nervous around people. This can bring a sense of comfort to you as you remember that everyone gets self-conscious and anxious to some degree. Use this to your advantage by knowing you are not acting strangely, because it is a natural human emotion.
Social anxiety affects millions of people every single day. For some, it can be completely debilitating, causing them to be unable to function in normal, everyday life. Those who suffer from social anxiety may feel embarrassed, ashamed, or associate other negative feelings with their actions in public. These emotions are irrational, though, and there are ways to overcome them. At Northstar Transitions, we understand the effects social anxiety can have on a person and on their life. We work to help people become the best version of themselves, which includes teaching coping strategies for social anxiety. By engaging in these helpful tips, we believe that social anxiety will be somewhat reduced, and with treatment, it can go away completely. Through our programs, we believe we can make a difference in your life. For more information on how to cope with social anxiety, call us at (303) 558-6400.