In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to speak a little on social anxiety and some tips to overcome social anxiety. Before the term social anxiety was as widely used and understood as it is now, I suffered social anxiety during my teenage years. Often times told to ‘breathe into a brown paper bag and get over it.‘ Seriously. Over the years I’ve learned how to improve and on some occasions overcome my social anxiety.
As described by the National Institute of Mental Health, social anxiety is an intense fear of being watched and judged by others. More than 15 million American adults suffer from social anxiety. Know you’re not alone in this. Over the years with my personal struggles, I’ve learned some tips on how to overcome my social anxiety and I have to share them with you. Along with this post, there’s a PDF guide that includes an additional six more tips (10 total) to overcome social anxiety!
Tips On How To Overcome Social Anxiety + PDF Guide
My social anxiety became prominent during my teenage years, but it started in my childhood years. Many individuals who suffer from social anxiety are oftentimes labeled shy and anti-social, but it’s so much more and so much deeper than the social labels.
When one suffers from social anxiety it can be crippling depending on the severity. Taking a toll on our mental health. And as we continue to go through the ebbs and flows of the pandemic and we start to plan get together’s with friends and family there certainly has been an increase in social anxiety.
Social Anxiety Symptoms
Symptoms of social anxiety can range from emotional to physical or both. My experience included hands trembling and having heavy palpitations and my breathing would become shallow. This would happen to me every time I got off the school bus and anytime the teacher required any group projects. As an adult, my symptoms are usually overthinking and – you guessed it! Fear of judgment from others. Other symptoms of social anxiety include excessive sweating, nausea, trembling/shaking, dizziness and lightheadedness, mind going blank, trouble breathing, etc. A full list of symptoms can be found here.
4 Ways on How To Overcome And Improve Social Anxiety
Be Self-Aware + Practice Breath Awareness
If you’re wondering what is the meaning of self-awareness it’s being aware of our behaviors, feelings, our strengths, weaknesses, etc. And the ability to focus on our thoughts, actions, and emotions. Having self-awareness is beneficial to those of us who suffer from social anxiety because it helps you understand what emotions are arising during a difficult time – which can help you navigate and manage your anxiety.
Be Aware of Your Breath
In this post, I briefly wrote about the importance of breath awareness. Practicing breathing exercises, such as the box-breathing method can help to re-center you. You can of course inhale/hold/exhale for longer if needed. Start by relaxing your shoulders and opening your chest inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
The box-breathing method is as follows:
- Breathe in for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Exhale for 4 seconds
Keep A Thought Journal
Keeping a journal to track your thoughts and emotions is a great way to also challenge your thoughts and become aware of what are some of your triggers. Knowing your triggers and what increases your social anxiety keeps you alert for the next time to better manage the situation.
Focus On Others
The thing with social anxiety is that we’re afraid of judgment from others. However, if you put your focus and attention on those around you it takes off the pressure of trying to live up to others’ expectations and judgments of you. And while this is easier said than done, their opinion of you shouldn’t matter at all. One of my favorite quotes from Clint Eastwood is: “Before you judge me, make sure you’re perfect”.
Value Your Self-Worth
Lastly and most importantly, value who you are! Doing things like meditating and practicing breath awareness increases our self-awareness and builds inner strength. One way of valuing your self-worth is by practicing self-kindness.
Does Social Anxiety Ever Go Away?
Struggling with a disorder such as social anxiety can feel isolating. Social anxiety, for those who struggle, is a fear that may seem to never go away. To be honest, it doesn’t. But it becomes manageable. It’s something we can control.
Rephrasing the question “will social anxiety go away?” to something such as “what can I do to build confidence?” is a lighter way of improving your anxieties.
PDF Guide To Improve Social Anxiety
If you’ve found this helpful and want to download 10 ways to overcome social anxiety you may do so here.