21 Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety

May 1, 2021
21 Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety
21 Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety

There are literally hundreds of ways we can experience social anxiety and many ways we attempt coping with social anxiety however, some approaches may work for you whereas others won’t.

Often those who suffer with social anxiety find it impacts many areas of their lives. Whether it means making friends difficult, having healthy friendships or relationships, finding romantic partners, finding work, or struggling to even making it through seemingly simple daily life.

And because we are all unique it may take different approaches for each situation to ease or overcome social anxiety. What works well for you may not work for another, and one day something may work for you and the next might not.

coping with social anxiety
coping with social anxiety

You are not alone

Social anxiety is one of the most common out of the anxiety disorders and affects about 12% of the population at any one time.

Be kind to yourself and accept that nobody is perfect and that you don’t need to be either. Accept that sometimes our anxiety fears do come true and at times we get embarrassed, also not everyone will like us – these things are all normal.

Realise that you may need help forming strategies in the event your social anxiety fears come true.

Seek support

Working through anxiety is a process and can take time. It is at times debilitating and without the right kind of support and guidance it can have a massive negative impact on your life and those around you.

There are a number of support groups, online and offline – these are great and more often than not you will find you are not the only one suffering with same types of things.

Therapy – there have been excellent results with treatments like talk therapies including CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

Trusted friends – feeling safe and unjudged and being able to have a chat can really help ease your anxiety.

Overcoming Social Anxiety
Overcoming Social Anxiety

Recognising your social anxiety

If you can identify what sets you off you can better prepare yourself for those situations. Sometimes it will seem like your anxiety comes out of the blue, however unless you are experiencing a panic attack, with a little reflection or help you can often pin-point your anxiety triggers.

Learning what your hot buttons or triggers are can help you manage your anxiety. Anxiety triggers are often bought on by negative or upsetting ideas, also negative self-talking, and negative mental images. The trick is often to test those thoughts against real life evidence and apply constructive or positive alternatives.

Plan for your social anxiety

If you have been suffering with social anxiety for some time you will likely have developed some coping skills, some will likely be helpful however other will reinforce negative beliefs.

I would encourage you to jot them down along with the situations you use them in. You could go a step further and rank each coping skill against each situation. You may find some of your coping skills work across multiple situations, but have slightly different results.

Setting social anxiety goals

The more self-aware you are the more power you will have going forward. If at all possible try to face your social anxiety head on, however do so gently. The more we can ‘get out of our negative thinking’ and into living in the moment the better.

Depending on the levels of fear you could try setting a number of small
accordingly but manageable mini goals. You might start with situations that make you slightly uncomfortable and work towards more challenging steps as you gain confidence.

Example: If you find you are nervous going to the supermarket,
then manageable steps could include:

  1. Drive to the supermarket carpark then drive home
  2. Drive to the supermarket, park and stay for 5 minutes, then leave
  3. Park and then walk to the door, then return home
  4. Walk in and around, no purchasing, leave and go home
  5. Next time purchase only 1 item.

And so on until you feel more confident. Try spreading the steps over a few days rather than say one step per month.

Plan to say ‘yes’ more often when offered invitations to social events. You could start out small and build up to larger events also, create a roadmap broken into bite sized pieces increasing your exposure levels as you go (exposure experiments).

Common fears for social anxiety

  • Fearful of not being liked
  • Fear of being boring
  • Dreading talking to strangers
  • Appearing incompetent
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of the spotlight
  • Forestalling the worst possible scenarios
  • Fear of public speaking
  • Being poorly judged

Common symptoms of social anxiety

  • Shaking hands
  • Red-faced
  • Sweating
  • Urge to go to the restroom
  • Nauseous feelings
  • Light-headedness
  • Muscles aches
  • Headaches
  • Racing heart
  • Dry mouth

Scenario’s that can cause Social Anxiety

  • Making a phone call
  • Booking appointments
  • Ordering meals at a restaurant
  • Paying the bill at a shop or restaurant
  • Unannounced visitors
  • Going on holiday
  • Flying
  • Traffic jams
  • Shopping
  • Job interviews
  • Parties
  • Dating
  • Presentations
  • Using public restrooms
  • Singing in public
  • Eating in front of people
  • Eating out

One thing to keep in mind is being able to identify coping skills that maybe hindering you from learning new healthy behaviours this is especially true when doing exposure experiments.

How do I get over social anxiety
How do I get over social anxiety

21 Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety

  1. Creating exposure experiments
  2. Put clothes on over your pyjamas and head out for a walk
  3. Go for a short walk or run – this may to the letterbox, and that’s ok
  4. Read – something that is calming or makes you laugh
  5. Listen to music – either soothing or uplifting
  6. Watch TV – try something comforting or relaxing
  7. Meditation – there are a number of online apps and books out there
  8. Therapy – either in person or online
  9. Positive affirmations
  10. Talking to a friend
  11. Practice mindfulness
  12. Yoga – maybe in person classes work for you but if not, online or just on your own at your own pace
  13. Visit a trusted friend
  14. Journaling
  15. Deep breathing
  16. Giving or receiving a heartfelt hug
  17. Taking a long shower
  18. Gardening – or other hobby that you feel relaxing
  19. Massage – if your anxiety allows for it
  20. A comforting clothing item.
  21. Planning a particular route
Staying calm with anxiety
Anxiety and staying calm

At least 12% of the world suffers from social anxiety some time during their lives. Remember you are not along and that there is a lot of support out there to help coping with social anxiety.

Contributing Writer at Nurturely
Phyllis is passionate about the field of mental health and well-being and a self development enthusiast.
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