Social anxiety consists of a pool of fear that is ignited by the spark of each mistaken assumption: You assume that others are better than you, or you assume that you will fail at a social situation, or you assume that you have to perform perfectly in a social situation.
But it does not have to be this way. Have a look at ten top tips to help you manage your social anxiety -
1. Automatic thoughts? Anxiety is fuelled by our thoughts and assumptions. We can only gain control of social anxiety if we are aware of the assumptions we make about socialising. Write them down
2. Reality test. Challenge these assumptions. are they realistic? Do you know for sure that things will work out that way? If they do, on a scale of 0-100, how bad would it really be?
3. Cost-benefit analysis. If you fear the discomfort of a social interaction, weigh up the discomfort that avoiding social interactions is costing you. If the cost of isolation outweighs the discomfort of interacting, it is worth the extra effort
4. Stay with it. When you experience the pulsating heart, the sweaty palms, and the racing thoughts, the first instinct is to run away. But try to just stay with it. You might find that the anxious feelings subside
5. Holding patterns. If you are concerned about not knowing what to say, rehearse holding patterns such as ‘I need to think about that’, or ‘I will come back to you’. And have a list of topics you can reel off in any social situation (the weather, the latest films, popular music)
6. Your opinion counts. Too often people have social anxiety because they believe they have nothing to offer. Everyone has an opinion, and yours is just as valid
7. Find a model. Do you know someone who is good in a social situation? If so, what do they do to make things work? Can you imagine modelling any of that behaviour?
8. Relaxation exercises. Have a range of relaxation exercises at your fingertips. These don’t require a yoga mat or a scented candle. You can simply draw your attention to your breathin, noticing the temperature of each breath as you breath in for a few seconds, and then breath out for a few seconds. As you breath more steadily, it is difficult for your thoughts to keep racing with the same amount of energy
9. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t assume that you are going to walk into every social interaction with an instantly transformed approach. It takes time to develop confidence, but each time you stay just a little bit longer, you develop that social muscle
10. Safety behaviour is not keeping you safe. Some people avoid social situations altogether, or they say nothing, or they hide behind their hands or hair. This is not keeping you safe. It is simply putting off the inevitable situation when you will have to interact with people. Why not try and let go of this behaviour, and allow yourself to develop that social muscle
Chris Warren-Dickins LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Ridgewood New Jersey NJ 07450.
To book an appointment, please telephone +1 (201) 862-7776 or email firstname.lastname@example.org