Have you ever felt nervous or uncomfortable in a social situation? Maybe you had plans to go out with some new friends for dinner but found yourself too on edge to walk into the restaurant, or you sat in a meeting at work and chose to stay quiet and not share your ideas. These feelings often arise from social anxiety—the fear of saying or doing something wrong. But beneath that fear is an even greater fear—the fear of being judged or rejected1https://www.betterup.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-rejection by others.
If you think you might have some level of social anxiety, don’t worry—you are not alone. We are social animals2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2527715/ and need to fit into our social groups, whether we are introverts or extroverts.
Watch our founder Vanessa Van Edwards talk you through some of the best ways to overcome social anxiety.
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder that is also known as social phobia. It is characterized by an intense and persistent fear of social situations and interactions. People with social anxiety often experience overwhelming anxiety, self-consciousness, and worry about being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated in social settings
How Do You Know If You Have Social Anxiety?
Think back to the last social situation you were in—try to remember how you felt and what you were thinking. Did you feel comfortable in your body or have flutters in your chest3https://greatist.com/connect/emotional-body-maps-infographic? Did you think how happy you were to see your old friends, or were you self-conscious about what they thought of you?
Well, if you experience the following psychological and/or physical symptoms of anxiety, you could consider yourself as having some level of social anxiety:
- Dreading social situations
- Avoidance of social situations
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Strong fear of rejection4https://www.choosingtherapy.com/fear-of-rejection/
- Strong fear of embarrassment
- Feeling your heart race and/or breathing faster when in social settings
- Extreme sense of feeling self-conscious
- Overthinking before you say or do something
- Sweating or trembling in social situations
- Negative self-talk
- Ruminating5https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/rumination/how-to-stop-ruminating/ after a social event that you did something wrong
- Experiencing panic attacks
- Nausea or lightheadedness, or an upset stomach
Note: If you experience these to an extreme degree, you might want to consider speaking to a professional, as you could be experiencing a social anxiety disorder6https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder.
It’s important to note that social anxiety is different from shyness. While shyness is a personality trait, social anxiety is a mental health condition that can significantly impact your daily life.
Social anxiety can be disabling in some cases. It can interfere with a person’s ability to work, attend school, or have a fulfilling social life – especially as so many people with severe social anxiety struggle with other mental health conditions, such as depression7https://www.webmd.com/depression/recovery-overview. However, with proper treatment and management strategies, many people with social anxiety can overcome the majority of their symptoms and live a normal life.
What Causes Social Anxiety?
Science hasn’t yet figured out exactly the causes of social anxiety, but many signs point to a mix of genetics and environmental8https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/social-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353561 factors. There may be some experiences in early life that seem to be linked to developing anxiety later in life (such as bullying, forgetting your lines in a school play, or another embarrassing9https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK327674/ social event).
What triggers social anxiety? The triggers can vary from person to person, but common triggers include:
So, can social anxiety be cured? While there is no cure for social anxiety, it is a treatable condition. Treatment options include therapy, medication, and self-help strategies like mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
- Being the center of attention
- Meeting new people
- Public speaking
- Eating or drinking in front of others
- Walking into a room after everyone else is seated
- Speaking a foreign language
- Being in crowded or unfamiliar places
Remember that everyone experiences social anxiety differently, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to find the strategies that work best for you.
15 Strategies to Ease Your Social Anxiety
Managing social anxiety can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help. Use the following tips like a buffet—take the ideas that take your fancy, and leave the ones that don’t feel fit for you.
Everyone is different, and accepting and knowing your own boundaries and needs is an important step on your way to healing.
1. Write a Plan to Keep Your Focus
Set realistic expectations: Avoid putting excessive pressure on yourself to be perfect or to please everyone. Set realistic expectations and remind yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes or have moments of discomfort.
The best way to make a plan is to sit with pen and paper and physically write down what your goals are—you can use this to help you direct your exposure therapy or just as a way of tracking things you would like to be able to do.
Here are some goals you could use to get started on your plan.
- Be able to confidently order my coffee in my usual coffee shop by July 2024
- Be able to throw a party for my housemate’s birthday on February 2025
- Be able to present my presentation on October 20th, 2025 confidently
Writing a plan can help keep you focused and will highlight for you the achievements you have accomplished. You might find it helpful to keep your plan somewhere you can see it regularly.
How To Set Better Goals Using Science
Make sure you follow through with your goals using the following
- Make goals specific and measurable: Keep your goals specific10https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.704790/full#ref47 and quantify them whenever possible to keep you focused. For example, instead of saying “exercise more,” specify “exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week.” This provides clarity and allows for better tracking and evaluation of progress.
- Set realistic and attainable goals: Ensure your goals are challenging yet achievable. Consider your abilities, resources, and time constraints when setting goals to increase motivation and prevent discouragement. Setting smaller, incremental goals can also help maintain momentum and build confidence.
- Use the SMART framework: Apply the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) criteria to your goal-setting process. SMART goals provide a structured approach, keeping goals focused, meaningful, and time-limited. This framework promotes clarity, accountability, and effective planning.
- Break goals into actionable steps: Divide larger goals11https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.704790/full into smaller, manageable tasks. Breaking goals down into actionable steps helps create a clear roadmap and prevents overwhelm. It also provides a sense of progress as you achieve each step, boosting motivation and momentum.
- Track progress and celebrate milestones: Regularly monitor your progress towards goals and track any improvements or achievements. Celebrating milestones along the way reinforces positive behavior and motivates you to continue working towards your ultimate goal.
- Use positive reinforcement and self-compassion: Rather than focusing solely on the outcome, acknowledge and reward your efforts and progress—practice self-compassion by being kind to yourself if setbacks occur. Emphasize the learning experience and use setbacks as opportunities for growth and adjustment.
- Regularly review and adjust goals: Periodically assess your goals to ensure they remain relevant, challenging, and aligned with your changing circumstances or priorities. Adjustments may be necessary to maintain motivation and accommodate new insights or limitations.
2. Let It RAIN
When you experience big emotions, it can be tempting to hide them away and not think about them. This can be especially tempting if, during your childhood, you were told not to cry12https://sleepingshouldbeeasy.com/stop-crying/ or express your feelings in any way.
But, if you want to start conquering your social anxiety, the first step is to acknowledge that you are experiencing social anxiety13https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness and to accept the emotions that are coming with that experience.
This means recognizing the symptoms of social anxiety, sitting with your emotions, and accepting them without judgment or shame.
You can do this by pausing to RAIN.
Source: Calm Sage
Therapists have used the RAIN method for years to provide a structured framework for managing difficult emotions by encouraging individuals to Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture their inner experiences.
By fostering self-awareness, acceptance14https://psychcentral.com/lib/ways-to-accept-yourself, curiosity, and self-compassion, the method helps to develop a healthier relationship with your emotions, leading to greater emotional well-being, including in social situations.
Here are some things you could say to yourself while you let it RAIN.
- ‘I am walking into a room of people I do not know. I feel anxious about this.’
- ‘This presentation is important to me: I understand why it is making me so nervous.’
- ‘My heart is beating really fast because I feel really nervous about speaking at this conference.’
- ‘I’m not usually anxious, but I can feel this situation is making me anxious. I wonder if that is because it’s my first time speaking to this many people.’
- ‘I accept this is how I feel, but I am going to let the feeling pass through me now because it is not serving me at this moment.’
Using this method should help the feelings pass through you easier. Sometimes it can help to visualize your thoughts as just passing past you—maybe like cars on the road or boats floating over you if you could lay on the bottom of the ocean. Let them pass through without judgment rather than hold onto them and let them rattle around your mind.
3. Breathe in… Breathe out
Don’t underestimate the power of a deep breath. There is an established body of literature on how slow deep breaths positively impact15https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137615/ our emotional control and physical well-being.
Science shows that your brain will benefit from the boost of oxygen, your heart will thank you for helping it calm down, and your anxiety should take a back seat. This is because deep breathing helps to suppress a part of your nervous system known as the parasympathetic nervous system. This part is responsible for activating your fight or flight, so suppressing it signals to your body that you are safe. After all, however much you feel in danger, you feel you are safe.
Here are some different types of breathing you could learn to put into use just before or during social situations:
- Diaphragmatic Breathing: Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as deep belly breathing, involves taking slow, deep breaths that engage the diaphragm. Studies have demonstrated that diaphragmatic breathing can activate the body’s relaxation response, decreasing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and reducing anxiety symptoms. The University of Michigan Health has a great tutorial on how to practice diaphragmatic breathing16https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9445-diaphragmatic-breathing.
- Box Breathing: The deliberate and controlled nature of box breathing engages the parasympathetic nervous system effectively and triggers the body’s relaxation response. It helps slow down your heart rate, reduces anxiety, and promotes a deep sense of calm. With regular practice, box breathing can become a valuable tool to alleviate stress and regain a sense of balance in challenging moments.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing: This breathing technique connects different parts of your body, and depending on what feels right will depend on how you do it. The basic premise is you breathe in air through one nostril and breathe out air through the other. Some people do this using their thumb to close one nostril at a time, while others use more complex yoga methods. Whichever way you choose to do it, studies show17https://www.msjonline.org/index.php/ijrms/article/view/3581 that alternative nostril breathing can reduce stress.
Get the hang of these breathing techniques in the comfort of your own home until they become second nature, and then start to use them when your social anxiety kicks in—before your big speech, as you walk into the house of a new friend, or before you approach your colleagues.
4. Take Small Steps into Exposure Therapy
Start by gradually exposing yourself to social situations that make you anxious. You don’t want to throw yourself in the deep end with situations that consume you with worry. Instead, begin with low-pressure environments and gradually work your way up.
This is called exposure therapy18https://www.verywellmind.com/practice-social-anxiety-disorder-exposure-therapy-3024845. The idea behind exposure therapy for social anxiety is to build tolerance and expand your comfort zone in small steps.
You can get a professional to help you with this, but you can also try DIY exposure therapy19https://www.healthcentral.com/article/diy-exposure-therapy-social-situations, especially if you can enlist some trusted friends or even trusted coworkers.
Start by creating a hierarchy of social situations that trigger anxiety, ranging from least to most anxiety-provoking. Begin with the least anxiety-inducing situation, such as using a conversation starter on a familiar acquaintance. Practice this scenario repeatedly until it becomes more comfortable.
Here are a few ideas to start you off (in order of least anxiety-inducing to most anxiety-inducing) that you could use over the space of a few months. (Remember, you want to practice each one over a series of days to weeks until you feel more comfortable about it)
1. Smile at a stranger
2. Say hello or good morning to a stranger
3. Ask someone in the street for directions
4. Order a takeaway by phoning the restaurant yourself
5. Make small talk with a cashier in a supermarket you haven’t been to before
6. Post a video of yourself talking to the camera on your social media (if you aren’t sure
what to talk about, talk about how you are making a video as part of your journey to
overcome social media).
7. Do a Q&A on TikTok or another social media platform
8. Go for dinner on your own
9. Go to a party at someone’s house on your own
10. Host a presentation at work (Vanessa has some great ideas for presentations)
You can edit this list to suit you, but the important thing is that you gradually progress to more challenging situations. Each step should be approached at your own pace, allowing time to build confidence and reduce anxiety.
5. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Therapy, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which can significantly aid in addressing social anxiety by giving you the necessary tools to support and manage your fears and improve your social interactions.
Therapy delves deep, and it can be a challenge to really untangle some of the roots of your social anxiety. Still, by doing this, you can gain valuable insight into the underlying causes of your anxiety, as well as challenge negative thoughts and beliefs and learn practical coping strategies.
Traditionally, CBT was accessed in person, but there is now a trend moving towards online CBT20https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23252357/, which proves to be just as effective (in some cases, more effective as clients are working in their home environment, which feels safer and more familiar).
Here are three tools you can learn through therapy to help manage your social anxiety:
- Cognitive Restructuring: This method focuses on identifying and challenging negative thoughts and beliefs associated with social situations. The individual learns to recognize distorted thinking patterns21https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-recognize-and-tame-your-cognitive-distortions-202205042738 and replace them with more realistic and positive thoughts. For example, someone with social anxiety might learn to challenge thoughts like “Everyone is judging me” and replace them with more balanced thoughts such as “It’s natural to feel nervous, and people are more focused on themselves than me.”
- Social Skills Training: This method focuses on improving interpersonal skills and increasing self-confidence in social interactions. Therapists help individuals develop effective communication skills, assertiveness, active listening, and non-verbal cues. They may use role-playing exercises to practice these skills and provide feedback. Enhancing social skills makes individuals feel more comfortable and competent in social situations.
- Thought Records: Thought records identify and evaluate the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Individuals record their negative thoughts about social situations and examine the evidence supporting or refuting them. They then develop more balanced and rational alternatives. This process helps individuals better understand their automatic thought patterns and reduces the impact of negative thinking on their social anxiety.
Therapy tends to be a long way around healing—it is certainly not a quick fix. But it does focus on the root, so it is often the best way to manage social anxiety over the long term22https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263389/.
6. Use Positive Self-Affirmations
This tip might sound a little ‘too good to be true’ as it is easy and takes up so little of your time.
Positive affirmations are just empowering statements that you repeat to cultivate a positive mindset and reinforce desired beliefs or outcomes. In the context of social anxiety, you can use positive affirmations to help you believe you can overcome the challenges you face in social situations.
By consciously affirming your strengths, goals, and potential, you can enhance your self-confidence, motivation, and overall well-being.
For positive affirmations to work best, you want to ensure you incorporate them into your daily routine, as repetition helps them to work. Science shows23https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=study+on+positive+affirmatinos that positive self-affirmations work on the reward and valuation parts of our brain,
If you’re not sure where to start, choose about five affirmations and write them on a sticky note. Stick the note on your bathroom mirror, and starting tomorrow, after your morning shower or brushing your teeth, recite them—either out loud or in your head.
Source: Psych Central
The important bit is you take your time to really put feeling behind each affirmation and that you spend this time consciously.
Here are some examples you could use to get you started:
- I am a capable person, and I can handle social situations
- I am confident in my abilities to speak to people and interact with the world
- I am worthy of connection and meaningful interactions
- I have valuable insights and contributions to share with others
- I deserve to have the social life I want
- I embrace and accept myself fully, regardless of anyone else’s judgments
- I choose to focus on the present moment and enjoy the interaction
- I understand my social anxiety is my brain’s way of protecting myself, but it doesn’t serve me any longer – I choose to let go
- I am resilient, and I can handle any social challenges that may come up
- I am allowed to be imperfect. My mistakes do not define me
- I radiate positivity and warmth, making others feel comfortable around me
- I will express myself authentically and allow others to express themselves authentically too
- I am free from the need to impress others, and I embrace my true self
- I am capable of building and nurturing meaningful relationships
- I trust in my ability to navigate social situations with grace and ease
Once you have spent a few days doing affirmations in this way, you will find you have started to memorize them. At this point, you are able to easily take them out of the comfort of your home and apply them before or during social events.
7. Body Doubling
The term’ body doubling’24https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/body-double-adhd has come from ADHD communities to describe having a second person with you when completing tasks you find difficult. This technique can be helpful for social anxiety too.
While you don’t want to become co-dependent on your family or friends, it can sometimes get you over the first few hurdles as you overcome some of the more intense symptoms of social anxiety.
For a body double, choose a friend or family member, or even a colleague. They should be someone you trust and someone who has less social anxiety than you do. Confide in this trusted person about your anxiety, and ask them to body double with you.
Some tasks you could ask your body double to help with include:
- Attending a doctor’s appointment
- Going to a house party with new friends
- Giving you a lift to your first day at a new job
- Exploring local supermarkets in a new area after moving house
- Sitting with you while you make an important phone call
After you have done a few tasks with your body double, especially if you repeat a few of the tasks together for weeks or months, you will likely find it easier to tackle these situations on your own.
8. Ground Yourself Before Social Interactions
‘Grounding’ describes a set of techniques that help bring your attention to the present moment and create a sense of stability and connection between yourself and your surroundings. There are lots of ways you can ground yourself25https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques, including:
- Holding a cold drink
- Taking a deep breath
- Standing barefoot on grass
One of the most popular and widely used grounding techniques is the “5-4-3-2-1” method.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Method: Pull your attention to this grounding task by finding somewhere with minimal distractions. Take a deep breath to focus yourself and start to identify and mentally note:
- 5 things you can see around you (e.g., objects, colors, shapes)
- 4 things you can touch or feel (e.g., the texture of an object, the ground beneath your feet)
- 3 things you can hear (e.g., sounds in the environment, your own breathing)
- 2 things you can smell (e.g., scents in the air, aromas nearby)
- 1 thing you can taste (e.g., the lingering taste in your mouth)
Once you try the 5-4-3-2-1 method a few times, it will become second nature to you. This technique helps redirect your focus away from anxious thoughts and into your immediate sensory experience, grounding you in the present moment.
9. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Get some trusted friends or family members and practice your small talk! This might sound ridiculous initially, but you will be surprised how quickly you will develop some go-to subjects when you are put on the spot in social interaction.
Here are some scenarios you could role-play with your most trusted friends and family to help you prepare for them in real life:
- Public Speaking: For someone with social anxiety, public speaking in front of an audience can be highly anxiety-provoking. The fear of being judged or scrutinized by others can make it difficult to express oneself confidently and effectively.
- Networking Events or Social Gatherings: Socializing with unfamiliar people or navigating crowded events can overwhelm individuals with social anxiety. The pressure to make conversation, meet new people, and engage in small talk can trigger feelings of self-consciousness and anxiety.
- Job Interviews: The formal setting of a job interview, where one is under scrutiny and evaluation, can intensify social anxiety. The fear of making a negative impression, answering questions ideally, and presenting oneself confidently can hinder performance and increase anxiety.
- Group Discussions or Meetings: Participating in group discussions or meetings can be challenging for individuals with social anxiety. The fear of speaking up, expressing opinions, or being the center of attention can inhibit their ability to contribute effectively and comfortably.
- Dating or Romantic Interactions: Social anxiety can pose difficulties in dating and romantic relationships. The fear of rejection, initiating or maintaining conversations, and being vulnerable with a potential partner can create significant anxiety and hinder the development of meaningful connections.
10. Live in the moment
Instead of worrying about the future or dwelling on past experiences, try to stay present. When we feel anxious in a social setting, our mind tells us that we are in danger—even though we are not! There is no tiger about to eat us. We are not dangling over the edge of a cliff. We are not stuck in the middle of a tornado with no shelter in sight. We are just nervous about the potential of being embarrassed or being rejected by our social group.
To remind your body you are not in any real danger, here are some ways you can stay in the moment:
- Engage your senses: Pay close attention to the details of your surroundings. Notice the colors, textures, smells, and sounds around you. Engaging your senses can help anchor you in the present moment and heighten your awareness.
- Take mindful breaks: Set aside specific times during the day to pause and fully engage with whatever you’re doing. Whether it’s savoring a cup of tea, going for a walk, or having a conversation, commit to being fully present and attentive in those moments.
- Practice gratitude: Cultivate an attitude26https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2021/01/03/gratitude-is-good-why-its-important-and-how-to-cultivate-it/ of gratitude by regularly acknowledging and appreciating the things you’re grateful for. Take a moment each day to reflect on the positive aspects of your life. This practice can shift your focus to the present moment and foster a sense of contentment.
- Limit distractions: Minimize distractions that pull you away from the present moment, such as excessive phone use, multitasking, or worrying about the future. Create dedicated time blocks for focused work or leisure activities, and consciously engage without external interruptions fully.
- Engage in activities mindfully: Whether you’re eating, exercising, or engaging in a hobby, try to do it with full awareness. Pay attention to the sensations, movements, and emotions that arise during the activity. By immersing yourself fully, you can derive greater enjoyment and stay present.
Remember, staying present is a practice that may require patience and persistence. By incorporating these ideas into your daily life, you can cultivate a greater sense of presence and fully experience each moment as it unfolds.
11. Develop Your Social Skills
Often, social anxiety comes from lacking other social skills.
This is an easy barrier to overcome as all you need to do is work a little bit daily to enhance your other social skills like practicing assertiveness, active listening, starting conversations, communicating effectively, or introducing yourself to new people.
The more confident you feel in your social abilities, the less anxious you’ll be.
Science of People website is a great place to develop your social skills, so check out:
- How to be Funny: 7 Easy Steps to Improve Your Humour
- The Nice Person’s Guide to Being Assertive
- 10 Interpersonal Intelligence Skills You Need to Master
- Be More Likeable Using These 5 Science-Backed Strategies
- How to Remember Names with a Trick That Always Works
Once you have made your way through these articles, start using the knowledge you have learned in your everyday life. You will be amazed at how quickly you start to feel the difference in how you interact with others.
If you want help from coaches and advanced strategies, consider joining our science-based, online communication course, People School.
12. Challenge avoidance behaviors
I get it. I understand—sticking your head in the sand is the easiest way to confront your social anxiety.
Big deadline coming up? Let’s go tidy the bathroom instead. Worried about how you are going to tackle that next presentation at work? Let’s start Googling something entirely unrelated.
Avoiding social situations perpetuates anxiety but provides us with an easy fix.
This perpetuates a cycle where we take the short-term relief of avoidance over the more sustainable and healthier method of actually tackling what the issue at hand really is. To overcome this cycle, you need to gradually confront and challenge avoidance behaviors by slowly increasing your exposure to anxiety-inducing situations.
Source: Country Universities Centre
At its core, this means learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings. It means learning to be able to stay with your feeling of anxiety and for it not to drive you to avoid it.
This is easier said than done, but if you use the other tips mentioned in this article—especially those on mindfulness—then you should be on the right track to being able to do this.
13. Celebrate Small Victories
You deserve this!
Tackling social anxiety is a huge task for anyone, so while you have so much of your energy focused on this part of your journey and growth, remember to schedule a lot of time for celebrating your victories. Not only do you deserve this time, but celebrating the small victories will also increase your motivation27https://extension.umn.edu/two-you-video-series/celebrate-small-stuff!
So take some time for self-care, treat yourself to a night in with your friends, read your favorite book, order takeout—however you celebrate, embrace how many positive steps you are taking.
Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small it may seem. Each step forward is a significant achievement in managing social anxiety.
Be patient and kind to yourself: overcoming social anxiety takes time and effort. It can take weeks, months, or even years28https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17092191/ in the most extreme cases, so remember to be patient with yourself and practice self-compassion along the way.
Be proud of your efforts and reward yourself for your bravery.
14. Work on your confidence
As part of a holistic approach to working on your personal growth, consider working on your confidence. Confident people are less likely29https://www.verywellmind.com/self-esteem-and-social-anxiety-4158220 to have problems with social anxiety.
Here are some ways to work on your confidence:
- Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone: Join a public speaking club or take a course focusing on improving your communication skills. Speaking in front of others, whether in a small group or a larger audience, can help you overcome the fear of being judged and boost your confidence in expressing yourself effectively.
- Physical exercise or sports: Engaging in physical activities improves your physical well-being and boosts your confidence. Find an exercise routine or sport you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine. As you improve your fitness and witness your progress, you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment and increased self-assurance.
- Volunteer or help others: Engaging in volunteer work30https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/volunteer-work or helping others can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Contributing your time and skills to a cause you care about can boost your self-esteem and confidence. It also offers opportunities to interact with different people and develop social skills. You might also find it gives you an extra push out of your comfort zone when doing something for somebody else rather than yourself.
- Learn a new skill or hobby: Take up or learn a new skill that interests you. It could be playing a musical instrument, painting, cooking, coding, or anything that captures your attention. By challenging yourself to learn and master something new, you’ll experience personal growth, expand your capabilities, and gain confidence to take on new challenges.
Remember, confidence is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your achievements, and embrace the process of personal growth.
15. Follow Others On Their Journey to Healing Social Anxiety
And finally, find other people to look up to.
All over social media, many other people are working on healing their social anxiety.
Following some of these accounts can make you feel less on your own while you overcome these hurdles and can provide emotional and practical support while you take on your journey.
- How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety by Ellen Hendrikson
- Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle
- Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, & Worry by Catherine Pittman and Elizabeth Karle
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have some questions about social anxiety, check out these frequently asked questions.
A: Social anxiety can be recognized as a disability if it impacts someone’s life enough to be considered disabling to their professional or social life. Some countries have laws that mean severe social anxiety qualifies for housing protection and/or financial assistance from the state.
A: Shyness can look a lot like shyness, and they both share some similarities, but social anxiety is more intense and persistent. If you experience extreme anxiety, avoid social situations, and feel distressed about your interactions, you might be dealing with social anxiety rather than shyness. If you find you need a few minutes to feel comfortable speaking to new people, or if you only feel yourself when you are around your oldest friends, then you might be experiencing shyness.
A: Sometimes, social anxiety may be mistaken for personality traits such as shyness or introversion. Other times, it may be mistaken for other mental health conditions such as depression or adjustment disorder. It is best to talk to your own health provider to help you figure out if your symptoms are social anxiety or something else.
A: The two main types of social anxiety can be categorized as social anxiety disorder ( the fear and avoidance of various social situations) and specific social anxiety disorder (fear and avoidance of specific situations, such as public speaking or using public restrooms). Both have the same set of symptoms but are triggered by different circumstances. People may have one or both of these disorders.
A: Social anxiety can significantly impact work performance and career advancement. It may lead to avoidance of social interactions with colleagues or clients, difficulty speaking up in meetings, increased stress levels, and limited opportunities for networking or public speaking engagements.
Social Anxiety Takeaway
Overcoming social anxiety is a journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and a commitment to personal growth. Understanding that social anxiety can stem from various factors, such as past experiences, genetics, or learned behaviors, is essential. However, healing is possible.
By using the tips in this article, including seeking therapy, practicing self-care, and gradually exposing yourself to social situations, individuals can make significant strides in managing and eventually overcoming their social anxiety. It’s important to remember that progress may come in small steps, but each step forward is a victory worth celebrating. With time and effort, social anxiety can be conquered, and a brighter, more confident future awaits.
Embrace the journey, believe in your potential, and take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your pursuit of a more fulfilling social life.
If you’re ready to start building your confidence, why not start with our article on Self Worth: 20 Ideas to Build Self Esteem?
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