Have you ever walked into a room full of people and felt your heart start to race or maybe felt like you were about to faint? Perhaps your thoughts started racing and you couldn’t seem to get a handle on how to interact with others? For people with social anxiety, these feelings are commonplace. Common interactions become challenging and day-to-day life can be difficult to manage.
There are nearly 15 million Americans living with social anxiety today. If you’re currently someone living with this, continue reading for a few tips on how to calm social anxiety. In this article, we’ll go over 4 specific ways how to help social anxiety and how you can calm your socially anxious thoughts. But first…
What is Social Anxiety?
In general, it is common to feel the occasional set of nerves. For example, when getting interviewed for a job or going on a first date you may feel a little anxious. Social anxiety is different in that the anxious feelings are amplified and can be brought to the surface frequently and during everyday situations.
Social anxiety can be categorized as an intense fear of social interactions or avoidance of regular life events due to anxious thoughts. Physical symptoms typically manifest as sweating, dizziness, muscle tension, or nausea.
There are ways to help you get through these uncomfortable feelings and get back to enjoying social situations.
1. Spread Kindness
One way to help lessen feelings of social anxiety is to do something good for someone else. Performing a selfless act for someone else may help lessen your feelings of social anxiety. For example, donating to a charity or offering to help carry in a neighbor’s groceries can counter potential feelings of anxiousness or potential social rejection.
Extending kindness or a helping hand to others can help reinforce the positives of social interaction and lessen feelings of anxiety.
2. Schedule ‘Worry Time’
While it can feel difficult to manage your anxiety, one way to effectively calm anxious thoughts is to set assigned a designated worry time. Generally, this time can be set aside to record or write down anything that may be causing you to feel anxious or stressed.
It takes some practice, as recognizing or labeling our internal thoughts can be difficult at first. However, once you can recognize an anxious thought cycle, you can then begin to disengage. Once you reach this point, make a note of what anxious thoughts are bothering you. You can then come back to your list at your designated worry time.
This helps you avoid ruminating and avoids allowing your brain to be stuck in a cycle of anxious thoughts. Instead, you write them down and know that you can come back to them later at a predetermined time. At that point, whatever was making you anxious beforehand may seem less scary.
Remember patient practice will help us recognize our worries and retrain our brain to direct our thoughts elsewhere.
3. Get Physical
The mind-body connection truly is a powerful thing. By treating your body well, you inadvertently treat your brain well. Exercise and a healthy diet can provide a really powerful step toward eliminating social anxiety. Even so much as a 10-minute daily walk can help boost confidence and lessen symptoms of anxiety.
In addition to the physical and mental positives that come from daily exercise, your body will also be able to fall asleep better. Better sleep is associated with better overall health, and this includes lessened symptoms of anxiety. Sleep deprivation has been linked to many mood disorders, one of which is anxiety.
In general, caffeinated drinks as part of your diet are unhelpful for those with anxiety. The stimulant nature of caffeinated drinks only worsens symptoms. Instead, set reminders to stay hydrated with water. By having less caffeine throughout the day, you may be able to fall asleep and stay asleep.
One helpful form of social anxiety therapy is that of exposure. By being willing to experience discomfort, you’re already one step closer to mastering your social anxiety. You may feel uncomfortable at first, but by gradually exposing yourself to social situations in which you otherwise would have avoided, you are teaching yourself to handle triggering situations.
If in-person interactions are too uncomfortable, imagine yourself going through a common social interaction. Eventually, you can work up to something small like chatting with a cashier in person or giving a compliment to someone you walk by on the street.
Hopefully, over time, the fear will diminish and be replaced by enjoyment in the moment.
How to Calm Social Anxiety
Hopefully the above-listed tips provide you with workable options on how to calm social anxiety. With enough work and dedication, the symptoms can lessen and you’ll be on your way to living life to the fullest. You’ve got this.
If you’re currently working on your own personal development or social anxiety journey, be sure to read through some of the additional articles we offer in our Self Development section!