Anyone who has social anxiety reading this title, probably just got social anxiety from reading this title...
Social Anxiety was a very strong disadvantage for me for many years. Whether it had to do with work, or my personal life - I would always get anxious having to go into any sort of group setting. I was always in my own head and thinking everyone had their eyes on me, and not in a positive way.
A big trigger for me was getting invited to any sort of social gathering, even if it was a group of my closest friends and family - "What am I going to talk about?", "What if I say something stupid?", "What if they don't like my outfit?" ... the list goes on.
Do you ever avoid going out in public alone because just the idea of it gives you the heebie-jeebies? Well, I can tell you for certain that you are not alone.
Emotional symptoms of social anxiety involve fear of being judged, fear of making a mistake or embarrassing oneself, and fear of people looking at you.
Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, can be triggered in a variety of situations such as:
Using public restrooms
Entering a room filled with people
Eating in front of someone else
Going to work
Starting a new conversation
Going to a party
Making eye contact with someone
Speaking in public or giving a speech to a large group of people
Talking to strangers
Ways to work on your Social Anxiety
Make an Effort to Become More Social
Learn how to make small talk. A simple "hello, how was your weekend?" to a coworker can make a big impact on your social anxiety. The more often you participate in small talk with new relationships, the easier it will get each time. Once you find yourself getting comfortable, you can even join a small volunteer group or a class of some sort to keep pushing yourself to have talks with new people.
Challenge your Negative and Anxious Thoughts
When in a situation that is triggering your social anxiety, try to direct your anxious thoughts into positive ones. Don't focus on what is scaring you, but rather focus on what you are getting out of the situation. At a gathering with friends and family, think about how lucky you are to have that time spent with loved ones. Get excited to have conversations and check in with the people closest to you.
Keep Your Focus on Others Instead of Yourself
People with social anxiety tend to get caught up in their own discomfort and nerves. As a result, those with social anxiety often struggle to focus on people around them and can actually induce anxiety and stress on themselves.
When in a situation where you are having social anxiety, try to focus your attention on the people around you. Make conversation with someone and keep focusing on what they have to say, if you are too busy paying attention to the conversation, then your mind will have no time to think up negative and anxious thoughts. This comes easier with practice and before you know it, you will no longer be having your own thoughts while indulging in conversations!
I know that these things are easier said than done, trust me - I've been there. But I can tell you for certain, that it really does get easier with time.
So just remember, It’s OK to have social anxiety - it’s what you do with it that makes a difference
Let me know what practices you take for social anxiety, I’d love to hear from you!