How to Overcome Your Social Anxiety: 6 Tips You Can Use Now (2023)

Do you get stressed in social situations? I want to discuss:

  • The definition of social anxiety
  • Specific situations that trigger social anxiety
  • Common signs and symptoms of social anxiety

Let’s get to the truth about social anxiety and what you can do about it. I want to bust the myths and misinformation.

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety is when you feel nervous, tense or uncomfortable in social situations because you’re worried other people are judging you. Almost everyone has experienced social anxiety at one point or another. Life is rife with moments of self-consciousness – from job interviews to first dates, we all occasionally feel nervous around other people. But social anxiety becomes a problem when it’s so frequent or intense that it gets in the way of important things in your life. You might not apply for a dream job because it requires an interview, or you might find it hard to be around even family and friends because you’re so worried about what they think of you.

If social anxiety has prevented you from doing the things you want, such as making new friends or going on dates, you’re not alone. Social anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States, affecting 15 million adult Americans each year. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in eight Americans experience social anxiety during their lifetime (about 30 million).

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(Video) 6 Tips to Overcome Social Anxiety

Recognizing if you have social anxiety

While social anxiety always involves a fear of being judged negatively, the actual situations that cause it can vary greatly from person to person. Many people with social anxiety feel nervous in most situations that involve interacting with or performing in front of other people. But some people only experience social anxiety in particular situations, such as speaking in front of others or hosting an event. For example, a person who is typically very outgoing and comfortable talking to strangers at parties might only have social anxiety when giving presentations. In fact, public speaking is one of the most common specific causes of social anxiety.

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Common situations in which people experience social anxiety:

  • Speaking in front of a group
  • Talking to strangers
  • Being the center of attention (such as when you are hosting a dinner)
  • Speaking to authority figures (such as your boss)
  • Answering the phone
  • Eating or drinking in front of others
  • Talking to someone you find attractive

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Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety

People often think social anxiety is just a feeling, but it actually has four components: thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviors. Most people might begin recognizing their social anxiety when they notice nervousness also is accompanied by physical symptoms such as trembling and crying. When you’re anxious, the four components interact with and build upon each other, causing a cycle of anxiety. For example, here’s how your anxiety might manifest itself if you’re nervous about giving a presentation at work:

How to Overcome Your Social Anxiety: 6 Tips You Can Use Now (1)

Thoughts: Often, your anxiety will begin with a negative thought, such as “I’m going to screw up” or “People will think I’m stupid.”

(Video) 6 Tips To Overcome Social Anxiety (Affects Our Everyday Life)

Feelings: These thoughts cause you to feel negative emotions, such as stress or worry.

Physical Response: Your body reacts to your negative thoughts and feelings with a physical response, such as blushing, sweating or shaking.

Behaviors: You try reducing your anxiety with conscious or unconscious actions, such as averting your gaze or hiding behind the podium (to prevent people from seeing you shake). Acting this way may make you think everyone else notices you look stiff (an anxious thought), which then can cause you to feel even more stressed (an anxious feeling).

People with social anxiety often don’t realize when their behavior is being driven by anxiety. People with social anxiety tend to exhibit three types of behaviors:

  • Avoidance behaviors: When you stay away from situations that make you anxious. For example, you might turn down opportunities to give presentations at work.
  • Escape behaviors: When you leave situations that make you anxious, such as leaving a concert or party after just a few minutes because of your anxiety.
  • Safety behaviors: Actions you take to reduce your anxiety in social situations, such as drinking to feel more comfortable or playing a game on your phone at lunch. In the example above, averting your gaze or hiding behind the podium during the presentation are safety behaviors.

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What to do if you have social anxiety

If you think you have social anxiety, the most important question to ask yourself is whether it prevents you from achieving your goals. For example, we mentioned earlier that a large majority of people report a fear of public speaking. You might be one of them. But if your job or goals don’t require public speaking, then being afraid of it might not be a big deal. On the other hand, if your fear is keeping you from getting the promotion you want, or getting in the way of an important personal goal, such as giving a speech at your sister’s wedding, then you might consider looking for help.

(Video) Social anxiety? Try these 6 Tips #shorts

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) widely is recognized as the most effective treatment for social anxiety. It’s endorsed by leading mental health organizations, including the U.S. National Institute of Mental Healthand the U.K. National Health Service. CBT is a set of activities proven to reduce your anxiety through repeated practice. It consists of two main parts: cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.

The cognitive part of CBT is based on the idea that it’s not a social situation that makes you anxious, but your interpretation of that situation. For example, if you’re having dinner with a friend and she leaves early, you can interpret this several ways. You might think she found dinner with you boring (leading you to feel anxious), or you might think she had a long day and was tired (and feel neutral). People with social anxiety tend to interpret situations in a disproportionately negative way. CBT teaches you to recognize and embrace the existence of alternative interpretations, allowing you to identify if other possible explanations are less likely to trigger your anxiety.

The behavioral part of CBT involves gradually facing the situations that make you anxious to overcome your fear of them. (This exercise is called an “exposure.”) You probably imagine the worst-case scenario will happen if you confront these situations, so you tend to avoid them. However, when you actually place yourself in the situations you fear, you have two critical realizations: First, the bad outcome you fear happens less often than you think. Second, even if it does happen, you can handle it. It’s key that exposures are gradual: You start small, with a situation that causes some anxiety but is doable. Then work your way up to situations that make you really anxious.

For example, if giving a presentation makes you extremely anxious, to the point where you might even call in sick to avoid it, your first exposure would be a similar but less anxiety-inducing situation, such as telling a story to a group of friends. Once you learn to get comfortable in these practice situations, you’ll be able to take your newfound confidence to more difficult situations you greatly fear or have been avoiding.

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Overcome social anxiety with Joyable’s online CBT program

We’ve talked about how common social anxiety is, and how there’s a proven solution to treat it (CBT). However, the shocking truth is 85 percent of Americans who struggle with social anxiety each year don’t get help. Why? Sometimes it’s a lack of awareness that prevents people from seeking help. Sometimes, sadly, it’s stigma. But even for those who know they have social anxiety and want help, huge cost and access barriers prevent them from getting treatment. The average cost of a single 45-minute session with a U.S. therapist is $180. Even if you can afford that, you might not be able to find an available therapist nearby. There aren’t even close to enough therapists to treat the number of people struggling with social anxiety; about a third of the U.S. population (roughly 99 million people) lives in a mental health desert, with more than half of mental health sufferers not receiving treatment.

(Video) 3 Ways to Beat Social Anxiety!

That’s why we created Joyable. Joyable makes an effective, affordable solution for social anxiety accessible to all. We offer an online CBT program with the guidance of a personal coach to help you overcome your social anxiety. Because it’s an online program with check-ins by phone, text, or email, you can use Joyable from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Research shows that online CBT is just as effective as in-person therapy, and for many, it’s a lot more affordable. Because Joyable is self-paced, you can do activities when it’s convenient and when you’re motivated to work on your anxiety, rather than having to conform to someone else’s schedule.

Overcoming social anxiety is hard work. With Joyable, you don’t have to do it alone. When you start the program, you’re paired with a personal coach. Your coach is your advocate and accountability partner. They’re trained in CBT and help guide you if you have a hard time challenging your negative thoughts. They also give you an extra push when you need it to face situations you fear.

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Tips for People With Social Anxiety

Here are some CBT-based tips for dealing with social anxiety in the moment:

  1. Remember everyone is self-conscious. Social anxiety is common, and many people experience it. If you’re at a party and feel really anxious about introducing yourself to new people, remember that other people might feel the same way.
  2. Pause to examine the evidence. When you’re feeling anxious, take a moment and try identifying the anxious thoughts running through your head. Challenge them by asking questions such as: “What evidence do I have this is true?” and “Is there another explanation for what happened?” If someone responds curtly to you, you may have the anxious thought that “They think I’m boring.” What if you challenged that thought and instead considered another explanation: Maybe they were in a hurry, or maybe they were already on their way to talk to someone else when you approached them.
  3. Imagine the worst-case scenario. Often, people with social anxiety think making a mistake will cause far worse consequences than it actually would. If you’re worried about something, such as stumbling over your words, ask what really would happen if you stumbled over your words. Would people really laugh at you? They’d probably barely notice it or quickly forget about it and continue the conversation.
  4. Remind yourself anticipation is worse than reality. Often, our worries about an upcoming situation are worse than the situation itself. If you’re worried about striking up a conversation because you think you’ll have nothing to say, remind yourself that you only have to start with “Hello.” Once you begin the conversation, it gets a lot easier.
  5. Bring a cheat sheet. Before going into an anxiety-inducing situation, anticipate what anxious thoughts you’ll have and challenge them on a piece of paper. Bring this piece of paper with you to the event (or save it on your phone). Then if you start feeling nervous, you can look at it to remind yourself of your thought challenges and calm yourself down.
  6. Consider getting help. If you find social anxiety really is impacting your life (For instance, getting in the way of your career or relationships, or making it hard to go to social events you want to attend.), consider seeking help through an evidence-based solution such as CBT.

We get lots of questions about social anxiety. People want to know if everyone feels the way they do or if their social habits are ‘normal.’ I also know that some forms of social anxiety are beyond the advice on this blog. Since I am not an expert in social anxiety, I found someone to tackle this topic for us.

I had stumbled upon Joyable when it was recommended to me by a friend. Joyable is an online service to help tackle social anxiety. I was unsure of what to expect at first, but after completing the entire program, I was blown away. After I finished the program, I reached out to them to do a guest post for our blog on social anxiety and how Joyable helps.

(Video) 15 Tips to Cope with Social Anxiety | Live Chat with Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes

Just to be clear, they are not a sponsor, they are not paying for this coverage and I get no benefit if you use Joyable. I am posting this because I think their perspective is really interesting and I think it can help people—it helped me. They have been wonderful and put together this great post for us. I hope you enjoy it and please let me know if you end up using Joyable and what you think.

This guest post was by our friend Tiffany Chi at Joyable.

FAQs

How do you treat social anxiety with these 5 tips? ›

5 Tips to Manage Social Anxiety
  1. Learn the Facts About Social Anxiety Disorder.
  2. Practice Relaxation Techniques.
  3. Challenge Social Anxiety Gradually.
  4. Lifestyle Changes.
  5. Shift Your Way of Thinking.

How do you survive school with social anxiety? ›

5 Tips for Dealing with Social Anxiety in School
  1. Adopt Healthy Mental Health Habits and Routines. ...
  2. Talk About It: Don't Bottle Up Social Anxiety. ...
  3. Adopting A Positive Attitude Increases Mental Health. ...
  4. Help Your Child Develop Interpersonal Skills. ...
  5. Teach Your Child Relaxation Techniques.

Can I cure my own social anxiety? ›

Talk with a therapist

Social anxiety is a mental health condition, and it's not always possible to work through symptoms yourself. You can do a lot on your own to manage the anxiety and distress you experience, but getting professional support is always a good place to start.

How can I calm my anxiety? ›

There are a number of things you can try to help combat anxiety, including:
  1. Behavioral therapy.
  2. Deep breathing.
  3. Exercise.
  4. Journaling.
  5. Meditation.
  6. Reading.
  7. Socializing, following pandemic guidelines of social distancing, masking and hand hygiene)
  8. Speaking with your health care provider.
10 Feb 2021

What natural things help with social anxiety? ›

15 Natural Remedies for Anxiety
  • Exercise. Routine physical activity is one of the best ways to improve your overall mental health and naturally reduce symptoms of anxiety. ...
  • Reduce Caffeine. ...
  • Herbal Teas and Supplements. ...
  • Stop Smoking. ...
  • Avoid Alcohol. ...
  • Aromatherapy. ...
  • Journaling. ...
  • Meditation.
10 Aug 2022

What is the 5 5 5 method for anxiety? ›

First, you may want to start with a simple deep breathing exercise called the 5-5-5 method. To do this, you breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and then breathe out for 5 seconds. You can continue this process until your thoughts slow down or you notice some relief.

What is the fastest way to relieve social anxiety? ›

Things you can try to overcome social anxiety

try some relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises for stress. break down challenging situations into smaller parts and work on feeling more relaxed with each part. try to focus on what people are saying rather than just assuming the worst.

What is fear of teachers called? ›

This is true that the neophyte teachers worry that they may not be adequately prepared to meet the needs of students but experienced teachers may also seize up in fear. Indeed teachingophobia does not appear from poor teaching or disability but it has other reasons.

How do I tell my teacher I have social anxiety? ›

It is best to schedule a meeting to talk to your teachers. Explain that you would like to talk to them privately about some challenges you are experiencing, and ask when may be convenient for them. This might be during a free period, lunch time, or after school.

Is there hope for social anxiety? ›

The good news is that social anxiety is not only treatable, but the treatment is also successful. Social anxiety no longer needs to be a life-long, devastating condition. It is these automatic "feelings" and thoughts that occur in social situations that must be met and conquered in therapy.

What God says about anxiety? ›

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." "When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles." "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

What is the 3 by 3 by 3 rule? ›

The 333 rule for anxiety is an easy technique to remember and use in the moment if something is triggering your anxiety. It involves looking around your environment to identify three objects and three sounds, then moving three body parts.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

How can I reduce anxiety at home? ›

Home Remedies: Anxiety and stress
  1. Keep physically active. ...
  2. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. ...
  3. Quit smoking and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. ...
  4. Discuss your concerns. ...
  5. Use stress management and relaxation techniques. ...
  6. Learn to relax. ...
  7. Make sleep a priority. ...
  8. Eat healthy.
31 Jan 2018

What is the 54321 technique for anxiety? ›

The 5 senses grounding technique, often referred to as the 54321 method or 54321 anxiety trick is a tool that helps relieve anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. The 54321 method can be used as a practical way to calm anxiety by isolating each of your senses through observation.

How can I help my 12 year old with anxiety? ›

  1. The goal isn't to eliminate anxiety, but to help a child manage it.
  2. Don't avoid things just because they make a child anxious.
  3. Express positive — but realistic — expectations.
  4. Respect their feelings, but don't empower them.
  5. Don't ask leading questions.
  6. Don't reinforce the child's fears.

What is the #1 phobia? ›

1. Social phobias: Fear of Social Interactions. Also known as Social Anxiety Disorder, social phobias are by far the most common fear or phobia our Talkspace therapists see in their clients.

What is the longest phobia word? ›

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is one of the longest words in the dictionary — and, in an ironic twist, is the name for a fear of long words. Sesquipedalophobia is another term for the phobia.

Does social anxiety affect grades? ›

Social anxiety and learning

Studies have reported significant effects of social anxiety on failure to complete school (Van Ameringen et al., 2003), increased risk of exam failure (Stein & Kean, 2000), failure to graduate and reduced income (Wittchen, 1999).

How extreme can social anxiety get? ›

Extreme social anxiety: A person with extreme social anxiety may experience more intense symptoms of social anxiety, such as a panic attack, in social situations. Because of this, people with extreme social anxiety usually avoid social situations at all costs.

What do schools do for social anxiety? ›

Therapists treat social anxiety with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Therapists teach students skills to calm themselves. They also teach ways to adjust thoughts that lead to anxiety and ways to use more helpful thoughts in situations that trigger anxiety.

Where did I get my social anxiety? ›

Family history. You're more likely to develop social anxiety disorder if your biological parents or siblings have the condition. Negative experiences. Children who experience teasing, bullying, rejection, ridicule or humiliation may be more prone to social anxiety disorder.

Is social anxiety for life? ›

Social anxiety disorder is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other daily activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. The good news is social anxiety disorder is treatable.

Do people with anxiety have friends? ›

Making friends is often extremely difficult for people with social anxiety disorder and to make matters worse, people with this disorder tend to assume that the friendships they do have are not of the highest quality. The problem with this perception, suggests new research from Washington University in St.

Why am I just now getting social anxiety? ›

Social anxiety disorder symptoms can change over time. They may flare up if you're facing a lot of changes, stress or demands in your life. Although avoiding situations that produce anxiety may make you feel better in the short term, your anxiety is likely to continue over the long term if you don't get treatment.

Why do I have social anxiety now? ›

Environmental Influences and Stressful Life Experiences as a Cause of Social Anxiety. Stressful life events and trauma during childhood can influence the development of social anxiety problems. Some of the exposures known to have predictive value for severe social anxiety include: Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

Why am I socially anxious now? ›

It can be linked to a history of abuse, bullying, or teasing. Shy kids are also more likely to become socially anxious adults, as are children with overbearing or controlling parents. If you develop a health condition that draws attention to your appearance or voice, that could trigger social anxiety, too.

Does social anxiety ever go? ›

Social anxiety disorder is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other daily activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. The good news is social anxiety disorder is treatable.

Do I have social anxiety or am I just shy? ›

Someone with social anxiety may feel extremely nervous in social situations, but present as extroverted and confident. Other people might not even be able to detect their anxiety. Shyness tends to be more apparent, although it often presents as situational. In other words, shyness tends to flare at certain times.

What are 3 symptoms of social anxiety? ›

What are the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder?
  • Blushing, sweating, shaking or feeling your heart race in social situations.
  • Feeling very nervous to the point of feeling nauseated in social situations.
  • Not making much eye contact when interacting with others.
10 Apr 2022

Does social anxiety make you cry? ›

Some common personality and behavioral traits seen in children with social anxiety disorder are crying, tantrums, clinging to familiar people, extreme shyness, refusing to speak in front of their class, and fear or timidity in new settings and with new people.

Videos

1. 6 Tips To Overcome Social Anxiety Disorder | Social Phobia
(Virtual Mental Health Clinic)
2. How to overcome social anxiety disorder
(Doctor Ali)
3. 6 Tips To Overcome Social Anxiety (Affects Our Everyday Life)
(Anxiety - Topic)
4. 6 ways to beat your social anxiety: a clinical psychologist explains
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5. Social Anxiety - 6 Tips from a Navy SEAL
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6. 7 Tips to Overcome Social Anxiety or Social Phobia
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