It’s not easy to admit you’re dealing with social anxiety. It’s no fun to accept—regardless of how common and manageable it is. We’re already feeling self-conscious. Now, there’s the added stigma of naming the condition. But, of course, the only way to commence social anxiety self-help is to face the situation with a commitment towards change.
Social Anxiety vs. Shyness
We all have our shy moments. They often appear unexpectedly and vanish as quickly. Social anxiety is not shyness and it’s not being an introvert. Being shy or introverted, in general, is part of your personality. Social anxiety is an outcome. It results from conditioning, circumstances, or possibly a traumatic experience. An introvert may choose to skip a party by preference. Someone with social anxiety avoids that party, due to fear.
Social Anxiety Symptoms
It begins with being plagued with feelings of doubt. You may ask yourself questions such as:
- How do I look/sound?
- Am I good enough?
- What if they don’t like me?
- What if nobody likes me?
- Am I too ugly? Boring? Stupid?
- What if others notice how awkward and nervous I am?
The list and its variations can go on and on. You feel misunderstood and often lonely. This can lead to depression. Such an ongoing level of anguish provokes another wave of symptoms: physiological. For example:
- Shaky voice, shaking in general
- Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
- Facial tics
- Muscle tension, tightness, and pain
Obviously, no one wants to feel like this but what can you do? A great first step is to begin practicing social anxiety self-help. Taking responsibility for changing your situation inspires confidence and other positive feelings.
5 Social Anxiety Self-Help Steps to Help You Overcome Your Fears
1. Start with basic self-care
The foundation of all self-help is creating the best version of yourself. You can begin this process by focusing on basics like regular sleep patterns, healthy eating habits, and daily activity/exercise. In addition, learn some stress management techniques. Breathing exercises, for example, have been shown to be particularly helpful for all forms of anxiety.
2. Recognize anxiety as natural and unavoidable
Social anxiety can tempt you to try creating a life in which all triggers are avoided. This is not only counterproductive, it’s also impossible. Anxiety is natural and can alert you to real sources of danger. Without appropriate anxiety, you might not recognize real threats to physical safety or your well-being. You also wouldn’t appreciate the great moments in your life as you normally would.
3. Create a social situation ladder
What feels more daunting to you, going to a party or taking an exercise class? Each of us sees thing differently. So create a ladder of your social fears—going from least challenging to most. From there you can begin “climbing” that ladder, one rung at a time.
4. Keep a journal
Maintain a detailed record of what stressed you, how you felt, and what you did about it. This is a valuable practice to mark your progress and to bring to your weekly therapy sessions if you’re in counseling.
5. Learn about mindfulness
Most of your anxiety focuses on worries related to your past or your future. Mindfulness teaches you to be present. In this moment, you can better understand your situation and find your true power.
Sometimes the shift begins with a one-on-one connection
As you can see, social anxiety self-help is essential. However, many people with social anxiety benefit from a blend of self-help and counseling. Working one-on-one with a therapist can help you recognize self-sabotaging patterns that are currently invisible. In addition, it gives you a weekly opportunity to plan to experience a social situation. You’ll begin finding a comfort zone in talking and talking about yourself.