At least once, have you ever experienced feeling a nervousness while having to present in front of a large group of people? You might not think much of it because after completing your presentation in the front of class, you breathe a sigh of relief and sink down into the nearest chair. But there are countless ordinary experiences like this that can act as a trigger for someone who has social anxiety. If you feel like you suffer from this disorder, here’s some ideas on how to get rid of social anxiety.
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that might require interaction with other people. The Social Anxiety Association (SAA) defines it as the fear and anxiety of being judged negatively and evaluated by other people. It might seem like something that’s pretty common, but if it continues, might affect a person’s emotional capacity and their lives on a more serious scale. Examples of situations that might contribute negatively to someone with social anxiety include being observed while doing something, meeting other peoples’ eyes during conversation and being teased or criticised.
If you or someone you know wants to know how to get rid of social anxiety, here are some ways in which you can cope with it.
1. Sharing with a support system
You might not feel comfortable going to a specialist to open up. However, to help figure out how to get rid of social anxiety you need to talk to someone. A group of close friends or family members can suffice for this. As much as you feel like you are being a burden to them having to express how you feel constantly, everyone needs an outlet. Anxiety isn’t something to be ashamed off. By closing off from the rest of the world, it’ll make you feel even more alone. The first step is to be able to accept that you can trust someone with your feelings.
Occasionally, being in a room full of people can be overwhelming. Sometimes it gets too overwhelming you feel like you’re choking up, your body tenses up, you can’t breathe very well and the negativity attacks your mind. Practice breathing exercises to regulate your breath and steady it. A steady breath impacts your heart rate directly and calms you down. Slowly, your mind will calm down as well.
3. Counteract your negative thoughts
It is unrealistic to completely turn it around and pretend that you’re an optimistic person if your mind is filled with negative thoughts. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to try and convince yourself that certain things aren’t all that bad. Often times, our mind takes over when you’re nervous, and you prepare yourself for all the negative things that will occur. The next time you have to socialize with someone who you’ve never met before, try and bring up conversations that you and your closest friends have had that they’ve found interesting or funny. A little bit of a positive affirmation would help push away any negative thoughts.
4. Face your fears, fake it till you make it
Although avoiding social interaction and having some alone time is necessary sometimes, if you do it too much it’ll add to your already uncomfortable and awkward nature. Keeping to yourself might not allow you to express your opinion in school if an idea or topic sparks your interest, or if there’s a solution that you know to a problem and it could help someone but your fear is holding you back. It’s okay to “fake it till you make it” and pretend that you are the next confident person in class and put out your suggestion. There’s a chance that everyone might like your ideas. If it helps, start in a space where there isn’t such a large number of people so you feel less inclined to run out the door.
5. Take part in a self-help group
There are self-help groups for people experiencing the same fears as you, so participating in a self-help group will allow you to reconnect with people who understand you on a similar level; something that your friends and family might not be able to understand. Also, the people running said workshops and groups are trained to help you in the best possible way. Together, you’ll be able to share your experiences and find a community that will be able to support you (and you them) in the long run. Most importantly, you’ll realize you’re not alone.
In addition, these self-help groups (like this one ) assists participants by providing them with outlets that they can write their emotions down and express them in a more comfortable way.
6. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Maybe you’re socially anxious around people, but what about animals? You’ll be able to show them unconditional love and talk to them like you would a person. Being around animals has also been proven to help with mental health and anxiety. It will also give you another outlet to focus on instead of getting into your thoughts.
7. Get enough sleep
It might seem like the simplest of situations, but when wondering how to get rid of social anxiety, we take sleep for granted. Especially now when everyone is more work-driven and rest is a second option. When wondering how to get rid of social anxiety, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day! This helps set your internal clock. In addition, avoid having exposure to light when you sleep as your brain is programmed to be more alert when there is the presence of light, avoid big meals and cut back on refined sugar and carbohydrates.
This works in tandem with getting enough sleep. Go for a run, go to the gym or maybe even take a long walk in your neighbourhood to tire you out. Exercise allows for a clearer mind and it also means you get a good night’s sleep after having an active day.
9. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks and alcohol are all stimulants that add to your anxiety symptoms and cause your heart rate to increase. If you have to drink coffee, limit it to the morning and keep your intake low.
If all of the above options don’t work, consult a doctor if you feel that your anxiety is worsening. They might prescribe you an antidepressant if the anxiety is severe, a beta blocker (doesn’t affect emotional anxiety, but performance anxiety like shaking hands or voice) and benzodiazepines if other medications have not worked. Do not try to buy these medications online. Go to a doctor who can evaluate your symptoms and provide you with the best help.
Did these tips on how to get rid of social anxiety help you? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Food, travel and lifestyle writer with an addiction to tacos. I cry watching Marvel film trailers and I refer to fluffy animals as 'floof'. My favourite stress reliever is to dive head first into a mosh pit.