Want to make creations as awesome as this one?


How to overcome social anxiety

If you feel out of practice socializing after the last few years of social distancing, you’re not alone. If you feel more anxious than usual when leaving the house to socialize, that’s also totally normal, as is occasionally feeling overwhelmed or out of your element in large crowds.However, when these nervous feelings persist — and cause you great anguish — you might have a social anxiety disorder.

Stop Trying to Be Perfect

Cherish Being Alone

Congratulate Yourself

Keep a Journal

Start Saying No

Buy Yourself a New Outfit

Set Goals

Ask for Help

Start Saying Yes

Become Your Own Best Advocate

Improve Your Health

Get Yourself Out There

  • Try cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Among the different kinds of psychotherapy available, cognitive behavioral therapy — which involves making changes to the way you think and feel about a situation, which, in turn, can help you modify your behavior — is a helpful way to approach social anxiety. “With social anxiety specifically, you want to identify patterns of thinking that cause you to avoid social situations — like if a person’s always expecting the worst outcome, or a person is fixated on the fact that someone might see them blushing, or sweating or stammering,” says Dr. Potter. “You want to help them learn to challenge those expectations and adopt more positive self-talk rather than negative self-talk.”
  • Practice public speaking
  • For those who have mild-to-moderate social anxiety disorder — for example, maybe it’s not causing you panic attacks — finding ways to practice public speaking is a good approach.

Gradually introduce yourself to anxiety-inducing situationsDr. Potter recommends what she calls “situational exposure.” Identify certain social situations you’re afraid of, and work your way up from easier to more difficult scenarios while practicing relaxation techniques so you can tolerate anxiety. “For example, if you have a fear of large groups, and you’ve been mostly avoiding group activities, start by going out with a friend one on one,” she explains. “Then work your way up to going out with a small group of friends.” Repeat as needed until you feel more comfortable before attempting to go to a restaurant, a bar or a party where there would be more people. You can also work on situational exposure with the support of a therapist, Dr. Potter says. “Like cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy is a type of treatment a trained psychologist can provide.”

If you’re a friend or family member of somebody anxious in social situations, one way to offer support is to bring them into the conversation. “You might be like, ‘Oh, I think Sara has something she would probably like to say on that subject. She’s really interested in that,’” Dr. Potter says. “You can support them by bringing them out of their shells.” Before doing that, however, be sure to ask the person if that’s OK. “If you’re a person with social anxiety, you may not like being put on the spot to say something. Talk to that person in advance about how they want to handle certain things.”

Ask your support system for a helping hand

This is easier said than done, of course, so she suggests using a technique called “five senses” that can help you regain perspective and stay in the moment. “Do a check-in with yourself of all of your five senses to get yourself more externally focused. Distract yourself from unpleasant internal sensations and negative thoughts,” says Dr. Potter. “Then you can try to refocus on: ‘What are they actually saying to me? What else is going on right now? What can I see? What can I hear? What can I feel?’”

Check in with yourself

Dr. Potter adds that other people are generally way more focused on themselves than they are on others. “They are most likely not scrutinizing your behavior in social situations, because they are busy thinking about what they are going to say or do next,” she says. “Your anxiety usually magnifies the negative and minimizes the positive — so the things you’re acutely aware of about yourself may not be particularly noticeable to others.”

Look for silver linings — and be kind to yourself

Determining whether these symptoms are from anxiety, or a more serious medical condition can be difficult. “If the pain goes away quickly after the anxiety-provoking situation has stopped, and if you have a subjective sense of knowing that you are currently afraid of something, then it’s more likely what you are feeling is probably anxiety,” says Dr. Potter. “But if you’re in doubt, you should definitely talk to a doctor about it and get advice on specific signs to look out for and what your risk factors are.”

When to worry about physical symptoms of anxiety