Tough Stuff

How to stop social anxiety from ruining your social life

Whether it’s skipping your best friends party, avoiding conversation with people or staring at a text for 30 minutes because you don't know how to respond, having social anxiety disorder (defined as fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness and feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated) can stop you from socializing or taking part in activities you enjoy where you know that other people will be. Dealing with your anxiety is not an easy task and is something that most need to constantly work on, but these tips may help.

Practice deep breathing

If you know you're going out to a social gathering or an event that may trigger your anxiety try deep breathing. Doing so increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which conserves energy as it slows your heart rate, putting you in state of calmness. 

Push the “what if’s” out of your head—or at least try

What if I trip at the party? What if no one speaks to me? What if I stutter? What if I'm overdressed? What if I'm underdressed? Your anxiety may cause you to overthink possible outcomes of situations, no matter if it's speaking in public or just chatting with friends. If the time comes and a problem arises, deal with it. But until then, just try to live in the moment.

Realize that you're not alone

Having an anxiety disorder can make you feel singled out—but you're not alone. Anxiety is the most common form of mental illness in the U.S., with approximately 10 percent of teenagers and 40 percent of adults suffering from an anxiety disorder of some kind. It’s also an invisible disorder making it hard to spot. So just because you can't see a physical manifestation of the disorder in your peers when you're at a party or in class, that doesn't mean they're not feeling the same way you do.

Create a list

Make a list of social situations that give you anxiety and rank them from least anxiety provoking to most anxiety provoking. Behaviors may include: ordering a pizza, giving a presentation, making eye contact, having a one-on-one conversation, etc.

Tackle your list

Once you have created your hierarchy list, begin to exposure yourself to those specific situations gradually but consistently, until you don't feel as anxious completing them. Repeat this as many time as you need to.

How do you manage your social anxiety? Lets know in the comments below.

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by Khadean Coombs | 7/26/2017