Social anxiety is a fear of social situations and interactions with others.
Any type of anxiety can feel debilitating. But, when you’re paralyzed by social anxiety, it can be hard to get out and do just about anything.
It goes a bit deeper than that, of course. It’s not that those who are paralyzed by social anxiety necessarily have a fear of people. Rather, most have a fear of being judged or evaluated by others. You might find yourself constantly thinking people are talking about you and saying negative things.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be paralyzed by social anxiety forever. Try using some of the following self-help tips to ease the stress of social anxiety every day.
Tip #1: Create a Plan
While getting inside your head too much can make you overthink things. It’s okay (and encouraged) to have some kind of plan when you’re heading out into a social setting.
Your plan should include things that make you comfortable. This might include people you know or places you’re familiar with. For example, if you’re going to a large, crowded party, will you be more comfortable outside on the patio or inside by the punch bowl?
Create some scenarios in your head for how different interactions might go. It’s also okay to “practice” them mentally ahead of time, so you feel prepared and confident.
The last part of your plan should include some way to “escape.” That doesn’t mean you’ll have to put your escape route into practice. But just knowing you have one can make you feel more comfortable and at ease.
Tip #2: Use Baby Steps
Some people think that fully immersing yourself in a social situation is the best way to ease your anxiety. But that isn’t always the case, and depending on the person, it can make things even worse.
Instead, focus on taking baby steps into social situations. Easing into it can help to build your confidence and reassure you that everything will be okay when you’re out and about with other people. Baby steps can include staying somewhere for a small amount of time. Or putting yourself in a situation that is only slightly uncomfortable, instead of a large social gathering.
As you start to feel more comfortable in those situations, you can stay longer, or go to larger events. Don’t feel as though you need to dive in headfirst in order to gain any ground against your anxiety.
Tip #3: Congratulate Yourself
It’s far too easy to be hard on yourself when you have social anxiety. You might wonder what’s wrong with you or think you’re some kind of failure because you can’t be around too many people for long periods of time.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
While it’s tempting to think negatively of yourself, you have to applaud your efforts along the way. So, if you went to a social gathering, even for a few minutes, congratulate yourself. If you went out of your way to have a conversation with a stranger, congratulate yourself. These “small victories” can quickly start to add up and give you the motivation and confidence to beat your social anxiety over time.
If you’re still feeling paralyzed by social anxiety, you don’t have to go through it on your own. Therapy can help you to manage your anxiety and keep your symptoms at bay whenever you find yourself in a public or social setting.
Feel free to contact us for more information about how anxiety therapy can help you to fight back against your fears. You don’t have to live the rest of your life feeling anxious or paralyzed about social situations.