Do you dread many social situations? Is this fear holding you back from having fun and pursuing life goals? While social anxiety can affect people differently, it typically stems from a fear that you cannot communicate properly and a fear of criticism if you say the wrong thing. Conquering social anxiety isn’t easy, but it can be done. Below are just a few steps to try to overcome this frustrating form of anxiety.
Plan some talking points
Sadly, you cannot plan a script for social interactions as you never know how someone is going to reply. However, you can reduce the fear of not knowing what to day by planning out some talking points before taking part in a social interaction that you may dread. This could include planning out some questions for a date, or planning ways to introduce yourself at a party. If you’re conducting a phone call, you may even be able to write down your opening lines to help prompt you. You could feel that this helps you to feel prepared.
Arrive early to social events
Arriving at a social event when everyone is there and already engrossed in conversation can be scary – especially if you don’t know many of the people there. Arriving early can make things less intimidating and it can make it easier to settle in. It’s easier to approach one or two people than a crowd of people.
Make kind gestures
Kind gestures can help to warm strangers to you and you could find that you don’t have to do as much small talk to get the conversation going. This could include anything from offering to pay for a drink to offering to carry a bag.
Take baby steps
It can be important to not throw yourself into a situation that is too scary straight away. For many people with social anxiety, public speaking is the biggest fear. Get yourself used to talking in front of small groups of people first to conquer this fear, and then build yourself up to bigger public speaking events. There could be other ways of taking social situations in small steps such as visiting coffee shops during quiet times if you have a fear of ordering coffee and then gradually working your way up to busier times.
Try herbal remedies
There are many herbal remedies that can make people feel more relaxed. This includes herbal teas and supplements. Try taking these before a social event to see if it calms your nerves. This is better than relying on alcohol to socialise (which does work, but isn’t healthy in the long run).
Talk to a professional
There are many other coping strategies for beating social anxiety which may be suited to certain types of social anxiety. A professional therapist can help you find the right coping strategies. They may also be able to help you get to the root cause of your anxiety if there are other factors at play.
Be kind to yourself
Quite often, social anxiety is the result of low self esteem. You may fear social situations because you are worried about ways in which people will criticise you – but in reality it is you who comes up with most of these criticisms. Instead of being so self-critical, start giving yourself regular pep talks and build up your self-confidence. Start reminding yourself of what you have achieved and tell yourself that you can do things. Learn to accept and laugh off your weaknesses, and focus more on your strengths. This could help you to go into social interactions feeling more confident.