How to beat social anxiety

  • You learn your way around it. Spend more time in places and with people who give you significantly LESS anxiety. If that isn’t applicable, you can learn how to become more functional with your disorder.

    1.) Making schedules for yourself and daily activities help wonders. Sometimes when I have anxiety it’s hard to get a grip on reality and keep myself grounded- I lose focus and I end up shirking all my responsibilities because the anxious feelings overwhelm me and I shut myself up somewhere. If I let my anxiety run away with my head it turns into self doubt and a loss of confidence which in the end turns into self isolation and/or a slump in activity

    2.) Calming exercises. For those who have anxiety in certain situations..(For instance: Crowds, Presentations, or anxiety due to a trauma you are trying to forget/alleviate.) Use these I got from the compiled efforts of myself and my therapist!—-

    A.) Counting

    Counting steps, Counting colors, Counting tiles, or counting backwards. Focus your mind on something other than whats causing you anxiety.

    B.) Stimulation

    What comforts you? I used to carry around a small plushy in my bag that I got from a boyfriend— when I felt anxiety because of grades or something else I would rub my fingers through the fur material.

    Other examples include: Making patterns on paper, Writing cursive, rubbing your pointer finger across your thumbnail, squeezing your hand into a fist. Playing with a necklace or ring,

    C.) Breathing

    Deep breath- In your nose then out your mouth. COUNTING breaths also helps with keeping calm. Keep the rate of breaths at a slow ten, It’ll help to avoid anxiety attacks.

    D.) Envisioning/Future thinking

    If you have anxiety due to a goal you have to have met at a certain amount of time, or due to other issues- envisioning your future may help calm you. What do you want to do? Imagine how your house will look or where you will travel.. get what you need to do done and be one more step closer to that target future <3

    E.) Talking to a counselor/peer

    Whatever the reason is: You have anxiety, but you don’t have to face it alone. Anxiety is a common occurrence..Humans become anxious!! some with varying intensity and different needs to be met. TALK TO A COUNSELOR! TALK TO A FRIEND! TALK TO SOMEONE YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH!

    Trust me, not being alone helps more than anything- at least in my experience!

    Ok, I’m very sorry because I won’t answer your question at all, but, I will tell you what, at least according to me , you shouldn’t do :

    If, and only if, your only problem is social anxiety (i.e. you’re not depressed, etc …) DON’T go to a psychiatrist. Seriously, I, my self been strugling with depression and GAD (General anxiety disorder which includes social anxietety. While mine might be lighter or worse than yours, I don’t know). Anyway, when I first passed out due to anxiety ( I was 26 years old already), my mother advised me to see a psychiatrist she knew. I saw him, he gave me some drugs, and frankly, the 2 first month were wonderful. I felt really confident, I talked a lot more than usual, so I could have a conversation with someone (don’t laugh but before that, it was impossible to have a conversation with someone I didn’t know, and even sometimes, with people I knew well !!).

    I thought : “Ok everything is fine. I’m fixed, I will finally lead a good and pleasant life” .

    Long story short : apparently, your brain adapts itselfs to ANY drung (legal or illegal). In the end, the drug has no effect, except, preventing the “craving” (yes it happens with anti-depressants, try Effexor and tell me what happens if you skip one or two days, You’ll live like in hell) . Anyway, my suggestion, based on my own experience, so it could be different for you, your choice 🙂 , is not to take Anti-depressants, because they don’t fix you, they just make you feel better for 3–4 weeks, then turn you into an addict, and don’t work anymore. Also try not to take benzodiazépines, or if you do, it MUST be for a really short period. No more than 6 weeks. Never. I’ve been addicted to those pills because I have extreme anxiety in general and, it’s like drugs (legal or illegal). At the beginning, it’s like heaven, then it does nothing except prevent the craving. Do you want an example ? I’ve got a friend who is anxious like me (strangely, that made us bond, but that’s another story …) but unlike me, he was ok to take drugs.

    So he went to a psychiatrist and was prescriped 1 seroplex a day and 2 xanax. That was like 8 years ago. Now he takes 5 valium + 2 seresta 50 every day and some AD I don’t know the name. And you know what ? He is still anxious. Very much. Well that’s what it tells me, but I believe him, because his behavior and the things he says, are really … well they seem to come from someone very paranoid actually. It scares me sometimes.

    Shit I wanted to post a short thing…anyway let’s

    Get to the point

    No drug, legal or illegal will make you feel better than for a couple of hours. You need to find other solutions. Fortunately for you, a lot of people have been down that road, and the general consensus about what helps is :

    • Sports . Allows you to vent out a lot of stress and creates endorphins (after, for example 1 hour running) which will make you feel better and WAY more confident around other people (tried and tested by myself)
    • Mindfulness meditation. This one fixed almost all my problems !! It’s hard at the beginning but unlike drugs, that one goes stronger over time !!! . The technique is quite simple : Just sit and focus on your breathing . You will have a lot of thoughts. Just let them go, don’t “catch” them . Breathing, always. Of course, there will be a moment where you will catch a thought and stop focusing on your breathing. A lot of people consider that as a faillure. But it’s not. Not at all. Even old Buddhist monks are sometimes distracted from their medidation. This is no big deal at all. When it happens, and you notice it, just stay relaxed, no stress, you didn’t fail, just try gently and slowly to re-focus on your breath. Rince and repeat ! :). You can start with very short sessions like 1 minute or 5 minutes, then after a few days, increase just a little bit. When you reach half an hour, it means it’s time for you to buy a more advanced book, than anything I could say !!

    By the way, at the beginning, you won’t feel the benefits of meditation, simply because your meditation time will be too short. You will feel it after a few weeks, if you do it daily. But trust me (and the million of persons who did it), that’s the best solution. It will really improve your life and that’s the best way to fix your social anxiety problem.

    All that I said is based on personal experience. Everything is just a suggestion, I’m not a doctor or a monk so I’m not qualified to give you “100% working” advice (but can doctors and monks ??). It worked on me, and some people I know, so it‘s very probable that it will work on you. The most important thing is to stay consistent, not to give up, and increase slightly over time !

    By the way….all the best !!

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    Many users have already given great answers to this question, so instead of giving you my life story and the steps I took to (mostly) beat social anxiety, I will offer you one tip that I think is particularly useful and perhaps original. It won’t cure your social anxiety on its own, but you can integrate it into your routine.

    The Tip — Get logical. First, realize what it is that you want in life that your social anxiety is preventing you from attaining. For most of us social anxiety sufferers, that would be friends: friendship is the stuff that our socially anxious dreams are made of. What we desperately want in life is to have friends and to be able to talk to them—casually and without premeditation—but our social anxiety prevents us from doing so. Thus, we have no friends. Does this describe you? If it does, then read on.

    Okay, so you want friends but don’t have any. Consider this your starting point. Now, there are two paths that you can take from here, and only two. One path wraps back around to your starting point—that is, it goes nowhere. You do nothing, continue to avoid social interactions, and thus continue to not have any friends, despite the fact that you want them more than Geena Davis and her crew want to get “to the goddamned airport!” in Quick Change (1990). The other path does not necessarily wrap back around to your starting point—that is, it has the potential to go somewhere. You could do something about your friend deficit. You could embrace social interactions, talk to people, and acquire friends, however slowly. Or you could could embrace social interactions, talk to people, and not acquire friends. But the difference is that you would have tried. Plus, in the process, you gain experience at talking to people.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking: this is totally obvious. I mean, if you currently do not have friends, then you can either continue to not have friends or have at least one friend. Logically, those are the only two situations you can be in, right? Yes, of course. But while it’s very obvious that this is the case, I also think that it’s kind of non-obvious, in a way. Let’s recast this in the form of a syllogism:

    P) In order to befriend a person, you must “get to know” them.

    P) In order to “get to know” a person, you must socialize with them.

    C) Therefore, in order to befriend a person, you must socialize with them.

    This is a very simple chain of causation, but it is designed to show you that being social with a person does not guarantee that you will become friends with them. In other words, it is not a sufficient condition for friendship, but a necessary one. If you’re thinking, “Does this guy think he’s saying something profound…?”, then maybe I’m not making my point clearly enough. What I’m trying to say is that even if you socialize with a person, you can still end up not befriending them, i.e. you are still are your starting point, i.e. nothing has changed, i.e. you are no worse off than before. Of course, you could argue that you are worse off than before, because not only do you still have no friends, but now a person thinks that you’re a stilted, blabbering idiot, but my rebuttal would be that you probably already thought this before the conversation even happened.

    In essence, I think I’m saying something like the social anxiety-equivalent of the Tennyson line, “’Tis to better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” only I wasn’t quite as succinct as him. But hopefully you get the point.

    Sometimes.

    First, let me suggest that you don’t actually want to COMPLETELY cure social anxiety. Anxiety is a defense mechanism and I wouldn’t recommend getting rid of defense mechanisms. The job of the human mind is to protect you. If you get rid of the protective response, you’re likely to do foolish things and then get hit by a bus because you didn’t feel anxious enough to look both ways before crossing the street. Basically, anxiety protects you. I know… I know… you hate it. I did too. When I was younger, I was anxious all the time. I worked hard to power through it. But it wasn’t until I accepted it that I was able to begin to change how it affected my life.

    So, let’s say you want that constant anxiety to calm a bit… so it only shows up when you really need the protection… not rid of it but rather having it do its job in a better way.

    As a hypnotist and sociologist I’ve spent many years studying the underlying causes of social anxiety. In most situations I’ve found that there is a significant event that causes the anxiety to build. We get laughed at in school or we get ridiculed by an overbearing parent. After that singular traumatic event our brain goes into overdrive trying to keep us from feeling sad or embarrassed again. This is anxiety.

    The “problem” with the brain is that it learns. It’s really, really good at learning. Because your brain is learning, it’s getting better at anxiety. It basically improves at making you feel anxious because it’s learning how to “protect” you more effectively. By learning, it begins to anticipate. It starts to correlate certain scenarios, environments, or activities with the social anxiety and then begins to make you anxious whenever you enter those environments or scenarios. Basically: a classroom incident made you feel bad… thus classrooms are dangerous places… thus you must be made anxious in the classroom… schools have classrooms… you should be anxious about going to school… schools are outside of the house and have lots of people… you should be anxious about leaving the house and going places with lots of people. All of a sudden, you’re anxious about going to the store, the mall, or a concert. Your brain thinks it’s helping you.

    What can be done? Here’s the short version (because nobody wants to read the long version)… use your brain differently. Acknowledge its protection. Appreciate the fact that it is trying to keep you alive. Now defer to your intelligence. TRUST YOUR INTELLIGENCE OVER YOUR ANXIOUSNESS. When you feel anxious, take that as a warning and look around. Are you really in danger? Yes? Run. No? Thank the anxiety for trying to protect you and let it know that you have made an intelligent assessment of the situation and determined that the danger is not as significant as your anxiety believes.

    Anxiety is like having a three year old child. Ever try to ignore a three year old child? How does that work out? Three wants your attention… you ignore… three starts climbing the freakin’ drapes and screaming at the top of their little lungs so that you will pay attention. Anxiety does the same thing. You try to power through it… it screams louder. Thank it. Pay attentions to it. Just don’t let it overpower your intelligence. Thank the anxiety. Assess the situation. Make a decision. If you are safe, let the anxiety know that it can leave now. You appreciate it but it can go. Welcome it to come back if it gets the feeling that you’re in danger. You want that. Protection is good.

    The first time you send anxiety away, it will leave for 1.3 seconds or five minutes or whatever. Repeat the above process. Each time you use your intelligence, you’ll increase the time that anxiety lets you operate more independently.

    Anxiety SUCKS. A lot. I hope you find something that works for you.

    Good luck. And take care of the most amazing YOU!

    Before we beat social anxiety let’s first understand what is social anxiety.

    • Social anxiety is the point at which you feel anxious, tense or awkward in social circumstances since you’re concerned others are making a decision about you.
    • Nearly everybody has encountered social nervousness at some point.
    • Life is overflowing with snapshots of hesitance – from prospective employee meet-ups to first dates, we as a whole once in a while feel anxious around others.
    • In any case, social tension turns into an issue when it’s so visit or serious that it impedes significant things throughout your life.
    • You probably won’t go after a fantasy position since it requires a meeting, or you may think that its difficult to be around even loved ones since you’re so stressed over what they consider you.

    Here are the some tips which will help you to beat social anxiety:

    1.Maintain Confident Body Language:

    Body language signs to individuals around you same what you are feeling. As a rule, individuals unwittingly move in way that reflect their psychological state. In any case, you can likewise deliberately utilize sure non-verbal communication to feel more confident.

    2. Socialize More:

    Try to locate some get-togethers in your general vicinity and, on the off chance that you can, pass without anyone else. It’s normal for bashful individuals to adhere to a companion each time they go out, yet this is just ruining your advancement and fortifying your dread of associating without anyone else.

    During your efforts to gather social experience, you can likewise rehearse your certain body language. Keep in touch, stand upright, don’t talk excessively quick, talk at a discernible volume, and make sure to take a couple of moderate, profound inhales on the off chance that you at any point feel somewhat worried.

    At the point when you mingle, do whatever it takes not to have an objective as a main priority, for example, making another companion, getting a date, or discovering individuals who will give you benevolent responses. Try not to rely upon outer outcomes to like yourself.

    3. Spend Time With Confident Friends:

    It is very important for all of us. However it is important to spend time with the confident people. If you spend time with confident people, or at least people working on improving their confidence, then they will influence and encourage you to develop your social skills.

    4. Make Plans and Invite People:

    When you begin confronting your feelings of fear, conversing with everybody, and investing energy with sure new companions, you are prepared to design a few occasions. Socially sure individuals don’t simply make your around sitting effectively welcome individuals out.

    Thank you.

    Keep learning and reading too!!!

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    I’m going to explain how to overcome social anxiety only as it relates to self-consciousness/insecurity. If you’re socially anxious because you have experienced trauma this may not be your answer.

    Ready for the secret?

    The key to beating social anxiety is knowing that everybody in the room is more concerned with your opinion of them than their opinion of you.

    Think about it. If you’re still reading this, it’s because while socializing, you are concerned with someone’s opinion of you. But now you know that people are actually more concerned with your opinion of them.

    Now that youre aware of this key fact, im sending you out on a mission. With people.

    Have at least 3 conversations daily with total strangers. The guy in line with you at the store, the crossing guard, whoever. If you dont know what to say you can talk about the weather, or read a magazine or the news so that you have a recent event to talk about.

    It is crucial also to make eye contact. No creepy death stares though. Just glance around every several seconds, but maintain eye contact. If you say some words and they give you nothing more than a grunt, you have done your job. If you do this daily, your social anxiety will disappear.

    As for the part where you say “permanently” overcome social anxiety, there is no such thing. Sometimes people just have awkward moments. However, just like anything else practice makes perfect. The more you put into this social practice the more you’ll get out of it. If you really want this, you have to go out there and get it.

    Now go break some ice, my socialite.

    Social anxiety is a consequence of a psychological phenomenon called Spotlight effect in which an individual believes everyone’s attention is centered on them. A concept in social psychology, the individual they are being noticed more than they actually are.

    Now, some people actually live in their own universes and therefore, relish the Spotlight while for others, this experience is their worst nightmare come alive. The former bunch are those with an exaggerated sense of self and the latter with deflated self-esteem. In effect, some thrive on attention while others are absolutely terrified of it. None of these categories are healthy. But since the terrified bunch end up forgoing their social responsibilities in order to avoid attention, social anxiety then turns into an illness.

    So how should one overcome this nightmare?

    As someone with social anxiety, I have found few tricks to work brilliantly with me. One to be especially (perhaps uniquely) useful for me.

    • Boost my self-esteem: Instead of looking for external validation, I make it a point to appreciate myself (both physically and mentally). You must have seen it in the movies when the lead actor is about to make a career-defining presentation or a sale pitch or a personal proposal. Things like, “I’m the best at this!”, “I’m everything I want to be”, “I am the only one stopping me from doing so-and-so” can do wonders to uplift your confidence.
    • Focus outside of myself: Instead of being wrangled around my own self-loathing thoughts, I let go and look outside. I focus on my sensory experience. The scent of soil, the whistling of dry leaves, sun burning against my skin, the broom’s dance against the chafed ground, couples holding hands, smoke filling up my nostrils with aerosols, indie rock blooming into my eardrum. I mean I could go on but you get the drift, no?
    • Pump up the music: So my therapist and I found that a certain kind of music plugs into me a misanthropic disdain that although unwelcoming, empowers me into a carefree woman about town. It’s freakishly unreal but is an aspect of my personality that I am learning to tap into from time to time to be kickass. (Don’t ask me what sort of music it is).
    • Incremental exposure: Even after all the amazing advise, eventually it takes time. You can’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself. If you genuinely struggle to be in social situations, don’t expect to wake up one day and just be out there kicking ass. Expose yourself gradually to more and more important social events.
    • Practice: Remember you can only be the best version of you. The great thing is you get to decide what version is the best for you. Let’s say you want to be a great orator, practice reading loudly in front of the mirror. You want to be great communicator, write clearly. You want to sell your homemade cookies, learn to do small-talk. Whoever you are, whatever you do, selling is an art we all must learn to do. And there’s no selling without people. Start with a close friend, family and grow from there.
    • No regrets: Let go of regrets! Seriously, it is the most toxic habit for emotional health. As people with social anxiety, we have a tendency to evaluate every conversation, text and chat, just stop. Whatever happens, happens. You don’t have to always “appear” smart. You are not in a game show to win some lottery. Life is simple. Let’s not over-analyze and kill spontaneity.

    All the best. You and I, we can kick ass!

    A2A

    Beating any kind of anxiety is super easy. We need to start with basics here, obviously a right level of awareness is most crucial to beat any kind of anxiety including social anxiety. Any kind of anxiety or panic they all have one important emotion and feeling behind them, which is fear. Plus there is always a trigger, this trigger can be anything from seeing someone to watching tv or things happening around you.

    There could be multiple reasons for these triggers to become a trigger. A trigger is something which has enough power to instigate that chain reaction of emotion which could be a mix of fear, dissatisfaction or inability towards something. So in this case the trigger is fear of leaving the house, meeting new people, making friends. Whenever you got put in such situation, your fear just engulfs you and things comes to standstill.

    There are multiple ways of dealing with this, but let’s first deal with this fear and then we can work on the how part more deeply.

    Most important thing to understand is, it always starts with a thought. Whatever you been through in the past which has resulted in this anxiety where you are at, right now, has now become your past. That incident has no power to affect you. What is affecting you is your memory of that event, plus your imagination on the top of it.

    Memory and Imagination are such two powerful tools, if not understood well can result in lots of sufferings. Our past and future can’t affect us, as past is gone and future is not here yet. It is our memory and imagination is what troubling us.

    Next important thing to understand is these memories and imaginations they always happens via thoughts, means they are processed in our mind through thoughts. So it all comes down to our thoughts. This is how things happens.

    Input(Memory/Trigger/Event)>Thought(Mind)>Emotions/Feelings(Body)> Anxiety/Panic>Experience>Memory>Chain reaction

    A good thought will always yield good feelings on the body and bad thought bad feelings. It will never be the case, where good feelings comes with bad thoughts. So our mind and body are extremely cross linked. Why these memories and thoughts they affect us so deep and bad? Because we start personalizing them. Whatever comes to our mind and body we feel its us.

    For e.g Say a memory got triggered, now a thought which will arise in the mind will say I can’t do this or I m going crazy or I m going helpless or I m getting scared or panicked. What we have done here is we have personalized this thought way too much by using this “I” here, we start thinking what’s happening on our body is happening to us and what thought is going in mind, that is me. So feeling is, I m my thoughts plus the resultant feelings arriving on the body. Once body is under the control of these feelings, it becomes hard to get out of that chain reaction.

    How to break the chain?

    With right understanding this chain can be easily broken.

    1. ME and Mine: There are two things one is mine and one is me. Something coming out of your body can be yours but not you isn’t that true. You cannot be the sweat coming out of your body, same way you cannot be the hair falling from your body. They can be yours but not you. It’s like a chair in your house can be yours but not you.
    2. Thoughts: You are not your thoughts period! If I ask you to stop your thoughts and then I again ask you to start thinking? Can you do that, of course you can. Its like eating food, you eat and then it becomes your body and then it leaves your body. But you are not that food, right. Same way your mind works through thoughts, you are not your thoughts, when you can switch them on and switch off. You are producing them, you are not them. To much identification is happening here.
    3. Meditation, Letting Go, Mindfulness, Awareness, observation and Interrogate your fears: I have already written plenty about them on my quora page on my website, you can read them there.

    So next time when you go out to socialize and a thought comes to your mind which says you cannot, then like a master tell the monkey mind to stop jumping and only use it when you need it. It’s very simple, something which you can stop and start that thing in no way possible is you. What you are is your consciousness, the awareness inside you which is just pure joy and no fear.

    That is you and that should controls everything. It’s just you are playing this game of lawn tennis with your mind and not putting the racket down. Can you play a tennis non stop your whole life? Put the racket down, just stop this game you playing with your mind and go out. It is so simple, as simple as just opening your mouth and saying hi how are you. Things will happen automatically from there.

    You need to make new bright memories, train your mind with this new mindset. It will take time and patience, but it will change definitely.

    Thanks

    Calm Mind Power

    You need to build coping mechanisms for your anxiety / panic attacks. You need to identify triggers and Ted flags. YOU need to identify the language you use in your head leading up to these episodes. What are you telling yourself? You need some cognitive therapy to change your thought patterns.

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    You can get a handle on anxiety. It takes work. You cannot do it all your own. It’s great to ask for help. This means you must listen and be ready to change. You must see that the world isn’t causing your anxiety.

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    Anxiety is your reaction to stimuli in your environment. This means you Can limit your exposure to the environment and choose not to visit other environments. You can assure you have a friend with you for support.

    Examples:

    I have found exposure to noisy and crowded areas are overstimulating. Certain scents trigger panic attacks and asthma attacks. Loud or aggressive voices trigger my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    *

    You need to be able to identify to triggers and red flag. This requires talking to a psychologist. Then you can identify coping mechanisms.

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    You can mainly change the way you react to your environment. Once you gain these skills, you will see your true talents come to the surface and discover more of who you are and you can be more confident and feel more independent. It’s quite empowering.

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    I believe people with anxiety often think on a faster wavelength. You may be able to analyze and handle more situations at once. You may be able to gain multi-tasking skills. I want you to know there are positives to this situation. Be hopeful!

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    During an anxiety or panic attack, use the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique. Inhale 4 counts. Hold your breath 7 counts. Exhale 8 counts.

    *

    This will help slow down your heart rate and can also help regulate hyperventilating, lightheadedness, and. dizziness.

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    You will want to have a positive and affirming mantra (poem / Bible verse / inspirational phrase) to change your thought pattern.

    *

    Then visualize a place or feeling that is comforting, safe, relaxing. You can listen to uplifting or comforting music or perhaps nature sounds. You can write down your mantras, pull photos from internet, print them off, perhaps put Post-It notes with those mantras/pictures on your bathroom mirror, visor in your car, wall in your bedroom, on your cubicle at work.

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    I transform my living space and workspaces into places that are comforting and help me focus. My pictures of the ocean. Hearing waves wash up on the shore is super relaxing me. I grew up in the Midwest. Moving to San Diego for me is amazing. I’ve meditated on the ocean for so long. It’s awesome to be close to the beach, within an hour drive.

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    I have visited family counselors, psychologists, case workers. They all have a different take. I learn more about myself from each person. I visit one person for a while. At some point I feel stagnant. Then in I find a new doctor or counselor. I think we grow into new situations and we need professionals that can advise to those situations.

    I have a few techniques that I use, but everyone has different triggers, so these may or may not help you:

    1. Carry mints or candies with you, pop one when you feel the anxiety rising. The point is to distract you. I find mint tictacs work well: the sharp flavor and odd oval shape give me mind something else to focus on.

    2. Wear something you love. You are entering an uncomfortable situation, the last thing you need is spanx cutting off your circulation or the mid-event realization that your t-shirt is just a little too snug. When you are comfortable, it will show, so let those clothes be a security blanket. There’s no need to take on more than one stressful thing at a time – that’s just begging for trouble.

    3. Find your nearest safe zone. When I am invited out to a place I don’t know, I use Google Maps to investigate the area – I am looking for “safe spaces”; for me that is supermarkets, coffee shops and some convenience stores, anywhere I can go that will feel familiar to get my bearings if I have a panic attack. Even finding comfortable nooks at the venue can work (I do love a poorly lit corner near a plant!). Whenever you feel overwhelmed, just step out for a few minutes to reset yourself. If the anxiety doesn’t improve, you can always leave, but often a quick removal from the situation will reset your mind enough to get back in there.

    4. Know your escape route. I always prepare for the worst case – the night is a disaster, panic is rising, oh crap, what do I do now!? Having preplanned your escape route turns a worst case scenario into an autopilot situation. By removing the stress of a potentially panicky situation, you’ll find your less likely to feel anxious overall.

    5. Set a reasonable schedule for yourself. I like to plan my approximate arrival (never first, or last) and set an acceptable, respectable duration for myself (drinks with colleagues? 2hrs; lunch with friends? 1.5 hrs; house party? 3 hrs) – having a goal makes it easier for me to parcel out my energy. If I’m having a great night, I can stay longer, but by giving myself permission to leave after a certain time removes a lot of guilt, which removes pressure, which removes anxiety triggers.

    6. Have a few topics or stories ready to interject. As long as you don’t re-use them on the same people (awkward!) having some pre-set anecdotes will give you a chance to pop in on some conversations or start new ones. They don’t have to be flashy or fake – use something you know; I have a hilarious rant about the 2 Darrin’s on Bewitched. It’s kooky and eccentric (seriously, how many 34-year-olds watch Bewitched?) and something I know very well. If you can find a way to relate your knowledge of anything to an existing conversation you can contribute without worrying about how you sound to others. People will always listen when the speaker is enthusiastic about the topic.

    Bonus: long term goal –

    Make some safety friends. Safety friends are the best, they are the ones who are up for anything and don’t care if you have to bail on them in the middle of something. Think these people don’t exist? Wrong! They are everywhere, they are the friends you already have, all you need to do is explain your anxiety, what your triggers are and that sometimes you need to escape. People appreciate honesty, wonderful relationships are built on it. Plus bringing a friend automatically lowers chances of feeling anxiety, and knowing they won’t mind if you need to leave (and will either leave too, or stay and be the life of the party) is positively freeing. Everyone gets anxious about something, let them know you will be there to help them with something that is your strong suit.

    Most importantly – be proud of every gathering or event that you successfully attend! Guilt is such an ingrained part of anxiety, but you should be high-fiving yourself all the way home, even if you only last 20 minutes – You went out! You tried something challenging and you survived! You made one person smile!

    Focus on every little win and you’ll start to see that you are actually pretty good at certain situations.

    I’ve had social anxiety disorder my whole life (now 34), and now live with confidence most of the time.

    It’s not easy.

    First, you’re not alone. Lady Gaga was painfully shy, and still is to some degree. Other famous people like Barbara Streisand, Donny Osmond, Jennifer Lawrence, and Mel Gibson have been shy during their careers too.

    To get better, you only need willingness to take action and get out of your comfort zone. One of the biggest barriers to progress is people too afraid to act.

    You don’t have to be perfectly willing. Just a sliver of willingness will do. Some people want something to fix or cure their social anxiety. But nothing does that.

    Medication reduces symptoms. But it doesn’t eliminate your core issue of low self-esteem and fear. You won’t become a different person overnight. However, it makes the process of getting out of your comfort zone easier.

    And if you’re in an emergency situation where you need to get better fast (to keep your job or not fail out of school, for example), medication makes good sense.

    If you don’t like the idea of medication, you may try a natural supplement. Ashwaganda is safe in the short-term, although its long-term safety isn’t known. L-theanine and Korean Red Ginseng/Panax Ginseng may work too.

    Everyone’s different. So you have to try different stuff. See what works for you.

    I take 20 mg of Lexapro, the highest dose. It seems to help. But it’s not life-changing.

    You don’t have to take anything if you don’t want. But most people are curious, so that’s what I can share about medication/supplements.

    After you’ve made that decision, CBT is the most common treatment approach. Stanford research proves it’s effective at reducing social anxiety.

    Many kinds of professionals offer it. That includes:

    • Counselors
    • Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs)
    • Licensed clinical psychologists
    • Marriage and family therapists
    • Nurse psychotherapists

    With CBT, your therapist works on understanding your negative thinking and behavior in certain situations. You then get assigned homework, where you have to confront these situations.

    Over time, you gain the skills necessary to function in social situations without anxiety.

    The other approach with documented proof of effectiveness is mindfulness. By the way, this isn’t an either/or. You can use CBT and mindfulness together.

    Stanford research again found mindfulness works to reduce social anxiety (and basically any other mental illness). With mindfulness, you simply focus your mind on something around you so you stay in the present moment. You live one moment at a time, right now.

    It works, because if you think about it, social anxiety wants you to live waaaaaaay in the future or past. Basically, anywhere but now.

    In my own life, I’ve found serving others works amazingly well to dispel social anxiety.

    Why?

    It gets you out of yourself. I realized social anxiety focuses all on me. What others think of me. What I think others think of me. What I might do wrong. And so on.

    When I come to a situation ready to serve, I get my mind off me. And it focuses on someone else.

    This works both in the moment and over the long-term.

    In addition, having a supportive network helps a ton too. I have 10–15 people I can talk to about various anxiety-provoking situations, what I’m feeling about them, and how to deal with them.

    I can share my innermost thoughts and feelings, without fear of judgment. And that dispels the power of social anxiety, which wants me to keep everything to myself.

    Highly recommended.

    Last, I avoid caffeine and alcohol and focus on eating proteins, fruits, and vegetables. I also exercise vigorously 2–3 times per week to keep the anxiety away.

    Social anxiety can come back. It happens because people slowly stop working on it and drift back to their old ways over time.

    CBT is generally a short-term treatment (2–4 months or so). Having a support system in place afterwards helps you to maintain your progress and keep growing.


    Dan Stelter helps social anxiety disorder sufferers find freedom from social anxiety and live with happiness, serenity, and confidence. Find out how at http://www.anxietysupportnetwork.com

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