5 Tips for Reducing Social Anxiety
With school starting up for the fall, the world seems to be opening again. Groups will start meeting, trivia nights will be re-scheduled, and co-workers will grab dinners together. In the past few months of distancing you may have found not being around people as much has you both excited but also anxious to re-engage. The thought of talking to new people can be daunting. If this is the case for you, do not worry. Below are a few easy to implement suggestions to quell social anxiety and get you ready for your next get together!
1. First Things First
Take a few minutes at the beginning of each day (especially on days when you have plans) to reset and speak some affirmation into yourself. This helps get your mind settled and automatically feel more confident. Some of my favorite affirmations are, “I enjoy socializing. I am a good communicator. I have something important for someone to hear, and I will share it today.” I find that saying these out loud and making eye contact with yourself in a mirror is a powerful way for the words to sink in.
2. Think About the Times You Feel Most Anxious
On a day when you do not have anything planned, sit down, and think through the times when you usually experience social anxiety. Is it attending a house party with lots of new people where you need to make small talk? Visiting a bible study? Going out with co-workers? Grabbing dinner with certain individuals? If you feel incredibly anxious under certain settings but not under others, this could be a sign that you do not feel you are allowed to be your authentic self in those settings. The best idea I can recommend is thinking thoroughly if the purpose of the group outweighs the feeling that you cannot speak from your heart.
3. Consider Finding an Alternate Way to Socialize
If you feel that you could go to a different sort of gathering and feel less anxiety, it is worth trying and comparing the two experiences. I used to feel incredibly anxious when I would meet with a specific group. When I stopped going to that group and joined another, I found my anxiety significantly reduced. If you are experiencing social anxiety it is far easier to build relationships by attending smaller gatherings, especially when there are a few trusted friends present as well. Remember, this is all about assessing why you feel anxious in certain settings. Be honest with yourself and make adjustments where necessary.
4. Go in Prepared
Once you have identified the areas you feel anxious, it is now time to figure out a game plan for the event. It is easier to socialize during an event if you prepare beforehand. If you find that making small talk with new people at house parties is what triggers your anxiety, then prepare a list of questions you could ask. People LOVE to talk about themselves and also love complements. I find an easy way to approach someone is to simply compliment something about them and then ease into a conversation from there.
5. Remember that You Have Something to Share
Many times, social anxiety can feel like a stone on your chest that weighs you down and keeps you quiet. However, this is not the way it was meant to be!! You are meant to speak truth and share what is in your heart for others to hear, not to be silenced by anxiety and fear. You have something vitally important to share. Remind yourself of this whenever you feel nervous. Take the focus off yourself and your own insecurities and put attention instead on the other people and see what you can bring to a conversation that will enhance their life.
At the end of the day, socializing should not be something to feel anxious over. You are simply sharing your life experiences and insights with another human being. With some people you may find a shared bond and continue to pursue the friendship. With others you may part ways after conversing once. This is totally fine! Enjoy yourself in the process and just remember that every other person at the party will feel awkward at some point, too. The easiest way to get out of your own head is to think about someone else. Be there for the person who is standing alone at a party and step out of your comfort zone to start a conversation with them. It will help you feel better, guaranteed.