Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety

Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety

Do you go to a party where you don’t know many people and end up clutching your drink in the most out-of-the-way place you can find? Maybe you see someone you know chatting with others and want to join in. However, as you approach, your heart starts to beat faster, your breathing becomes shallow, and you have difficulty forming thoughts on what you want to share and say. 

Maybe your inner dialogue launches a stream of concerns. You may worry about saying the wrong thing. Perhaps you think you’ll be uninteresting and people will find you boring. Or, they won’t understand what you’re talking about. Once you’ve steadied your thoughts and are ready to join in the conversation, they’ve moved on to a new topic, and your internal dialogue loop starts all over again.

If this sounds like you, you may have social anxiety. Indeed, Social Anxiety Disorder is a common mental health problem. People who suffer from this disorder almost always have fear and anxiety in social situations. When you consider that life is a social place and that we need to be part of it for our very survival, social anxiety can substantially interfere with your life. A therapist is a trusted and compassionate clinical psychologist who understands your problem and wants to help you overcome it. Here are some ways to cope.

► Practice deep breathing

Focus your mind on your breath. Try to breathe in for a count of three, hold for a count of three, then exhale for a count of three. Practicing deep breathing techniques before social situations will help your brain associate feeling safe and calm with the deep breathing process, helping your mind to recreate these feelings when you’re feeling anxious. 

Engage in positive self-talk

Calling up positive thoughts about yourself when you are anxious can be quite beneficial. Social anxiety often causes you to worry that others will judge you negatively. If you can recall positive thoughts about yourself in the moment, you may prevent your mind from spiraling into the negative, alleviating some of your fear and anxiety.

► Develop an exit strategy

Establish a reason to leave in your mind ahead of time. Setting up this mental plan before attending a social situation may help alleviate your social anxiety symptoms. If you know you have a way out to fall back on in advance, there is a safety net and less stress at the moment to come up with an exit strategy if your symptoms get too overwhelming. You may not even end up using it, but having a “Plan B” exit strategy can allow you to feel comfortable enough to stick around and enjoy yourself. 

These are just a few of the many options you could use to deal with the social stressors that you encounter. A therapist in Palatine, IL hopes you will find these options helpful and is available to provide professional targeted therapy in your time of need. Contact an office to schedule an appointment today.

Thanks to Lotus Wellness Center for their insight into counseling and social anxiety.