How to Overcome Social Anxiety Fast
Are you wondering how to calm social anxiety in the moment? Nothing is worse than getting into a social or performance situation and feeling as though you can’t control your anxiety.
Whether that means a racing heart, shortness of breath, or sweating, the physical signs of social anxiety can actually be a self-fulfilling prophecy. As you have more anxiety, you show more symptoms, which makes you even more socially anxious.
The best way to calm social anxiety in the moment is to slow the fight or flight reaction through relaxation and mindfulness techniques. This includes doing a body scan and relaxing tense muscles, breathing deeply from your abdomen, and being an observer of your thoughts without reacting to them.
If you’ve ever had that sinking feeling in a social or performance situation, know that you are not alone! I’ve been there and know what it feels like for your anxiety reaction to feel like a runaway train. I promise if you take the time to actually put some of these strategies into practice, eventually you’ll be in a better position to get those feelings under control.
How to Calm Social Anxiety in the Moment
There is a vicious circle that anyone who lives with social anxiety has most likely experienced. You enter a situation that causes you anxiety, and your anxiety soars. But, instead of using coping strategies to calm yourself down, your anxiety starts to spiral.
At this point, your anxiety about how you feel is causing more anxiety! It’s this cycle of panic that is within your control. Learn how to react to those first anxiety symptoms and you will have mastered the art of staying calm.
While social anxiety may always be a part of your life, you can get to the point where it is manageable. Being able to calm social anxiety in the moment will also depend a lot on the habits that you build the other 24 hours of the day.
When you think of how much of your life is wasted feeling tense and anxious, you will realize that spending 15 minutes each day working on staying calm isn’t that much of a commitment.
Make a plan to work on this at a certain time each day. If you set small goals like this, it will be easier to follow through when you just don’t feel like it.
A simple relaxation routine that you implement at a regular time each day will get you started at inducing calm.
Choose a time of day that you will practice relaxing. Plan a relaxation routine, such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, or any combination. Do what feels right to you for about 15 minutes.
The hard part is making it a consistent habit. Practice it at the same time each day for a month. Eventually, you should start to do it automatically without thinking.
First thing in the morning when you wake up or the last thing at night before you fall asleep are good times. This will help to put some peace back into your day, even if you are still dealing with social and performance anxiety.
If your thoughts are, “But I CAN’T relax!” turn that into “I will just give it a try.”
If the method you chose isn’t working, try something different.
Free Training: "Conversation Advice for Overthinkers"
Check out this free training offered by the experts at Social Pro Now!
- How to use "Conversational Threading" to avoid awkward silence
- The proven way to get past boring small talk
- Instantly beat self-consciousness with the "OFC-method"
- Busting the myth that you have to get a "more interesting life" to be more interesting"
I find sometimes it helps me to visualize the pleasant scene first, then start the deep breaths, and finally focus on relaxing each part of my body. Even if you only do 5 minutes each day, that’s better than not doing it at all.
If you can devote some time in your day to learning to relax, it will become easier to relax when you find yourself in those anxiety-inducing situations. Just like anything else in life, practice makes perfect.
When you do find yourself with mounting anxiety in a social or performance situation, do a quick body scan to look for any tension and focus on relaxing those parts of your body.
For example, I hold a lot of tension in my shoulders and face, and find it helps a lot to relax those areas as much as I can.
Then, focus on breathing deeply down into your abdomen rather than shallowly from your chest. I know this can feel hard when anxiety is mounting, but I promise you that breathing this way is what will make it easier to breathe (I know that sounds like a paradox).
For example, if you have to read aloud or speak aloud and find that you can’t catch your breath, take a deep breath into your stomach before you start to speak, then slowly exhale as you are speaking.
Most people make the mistake instead of holding their breath while they read or talk. Don’t do this! That’s what is making it feel like you can’t catch your breath.
Finally, imagine your thoughts coming and going without becoming attached to them. This is the practice of mindfulness, that I detail more in my Mindfulness Workbook. When you detach yourself from your thoughts, you are less likely to end up in that cycle of panic and anxiety where your initial anxiety is made worse through your thoughts.
How to Deal with Social Anxiety in Public
Dealing with social anxiety in the moment is hard enough, but when it’s in public it’s 1000 times worse. Am I right?
You feel like all of the eyes are on you. How can you possibly get it under control?
Another thing I’ve found helpful is to have a “toolbox” that you can rely on if things get really bad.
This could be as simple as a little pouch you carry around with some items in it. Some of them can even be worn on your body. Below are some suggestions.
- Crystals. These can help to remind you of calming affirmations or your intentions as you enter a situation.
- Aromatherapy jewelry. For example, a spinner ring, or a Komusu necklace (to slow your breathing).
- Headphones. Use these to listen to calming music, a mindfulness meditation, or another sound you find calms you down. This can also be used as a way to distract yourself to collect your thoughts and break the anxiety cycle.
- A pocket-sized coloring book. Coloring mandalas or other patterns can be one way to stay calm.
In addition to a toolbox that you can use to manage your social anxiety in the moment, there are a couple of other tricks that you can try.
Focus outward. When you become anxious, your tendency is to focus inward on your symptoms. Instead, try to focus outward and be really present in the situation. I know this is easier said than done.
Be an active listener. This goes along with focusing outward. If you are in a conversation with someone, practice being an active listener to keep your social anxiety in check. This means listening to understand rather than listening to reply. It makes it harder to get caught up in your own thoughts and anxiety when you are trying hard to be a good listener.
Take time out. If you are in a situation that allows it, take a time out and go for a walk or go to the restroom for a break. It could be that you just need to clear your head and start fresh.
Can Social Anxiety Be Cured?
If you deal with social anxiety in the moment, you may wonder if there is a cure so that you never have to feel this way again.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone could wave a magic wand and all the anxiety would just melt away permanently?
The truth is that social anxiety can be overcome, but it can’t be “cured” per se.
It’s likely that you’ll have to keep managing it for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t feel relaxed in social or performance situations.
I went from panicked at giving presentations to presenting in front of a group of 100 at work without feeling any anxiety at all!
You can certainly feel better than you do right now, and there isn’t any reason why you can’t learn to calm social anxiety in the moment when it happens.
Why Do I Have Social Anxiety?
If you have a lot of social anxiety in the moment, you might also be wondering why you have social anxiety in the first place.
The truth is that it’s probably a combination of a few different things.
We know that some people are genetically predisposed to having anxiety disorders like social anxiety disorder. This is because these types of illnesses do tend to run in the family.
But at the same time, your life experiences can also contribute to whether you develop social or performance anxiety.
Just like a bad experience with a dog as a child might make you afraid of dogs (but not other animals), a bad social or performance experience could sensitize you to having anxiety in those situations.
If you want to understand better the causes of your social anxiety, I go over all of this in my Social Anxiety Masterclass. I also talk about a variety of coping strategies that you can use to feel better.
Social Anxiety Coping Skills Worksheets
Okay, so you are out of the situation that was causing you bad anxiety. But now what?
What I think you should be doing is using the skills you learn in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to prepare yourself for the next time this happens.
If you’d like more information, sign up for my email list and you’ll get access to my free resource library where I keep worksheets to help!
At the same time, if you find that you can’t stay calm in social and performance situations no matter what you do, it may be worth a visit to your doctor or a mental health professional for assessment and to discuss treatment options.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a severe type of social anxiety that is treatable using medication. You might also benefit from talking to a therapist if you feel as though you have trouble managing your worried thoughts or have flashback memories of times in the past when things went badly in social or performance situations.
Remember that there is no shame in reaching out for help! Lots of people manage mental health conditions every day; you might be surprised to learn who in your circle of friends or family is already taking prescription medication for a mental health condition.
In the case of social anxiety, you can even be prescribed a fast-acting short-term medication for specific performance situations. These medications shut down the fight or flight response so that it never happens in the first place. This can be helpful if you don’t have a lot of anxiety outside of public speaking or performing, and only have to do these things occasionally. When you don’t face a feared situation often enough, it can be hard to expose yourself to it and get over the association that you have with anxiety (not impossible, but a lot harder!).
That being said, there are lots of strategies in this article to give you some ideas to start with if you don’t want to take medication or talk to a therapist just yet.
What sort of strategies have you used to calm social anxiety in the moment in your daily life? Feel free to share your best tricks to calm social anxiety in the moment in the comments so that others can benefit from your experiences.
I’d love to also hear about your experiences of social anxiety in the moment. When does it tend to happen the most?
Related Articles about Calming Social Anxiety
- How to Use Lavender Oil to Calm Anxiety
- 23 Anxiety Jewelry Options to Calm Down Fast
- 6 Easy Ways to Stop Shaking Before a Presentation
WANT TO REMEMBER THIS? SAVE HOW TO CALM SOCIAL ANXIETY IN THE MOMENT TO YOUR FAVORITE PINTEREST BOARD!
How to Calm Social Anxiety in the Moment
Here are some of my favorite social anxiety tools
Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope you’ll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, I’ll earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.
Online Therapy: For online therapy, I have personally used and like the service offered by Betterhelp. It's easy to get started from the comfort of your home. You'll even get a discount on your first month of therapy when you use my link.
Doctor Visits: For doctor visits, Web Doctors offers convenient online appointments.
Audible Subscription: I recommend a lot of self-help books on this site, but I actually prefer an audiobook subscription over print books! My favorite subscription service is Audible because it has all the best-sellers and they stay in your digital library forever (even if you end your subscription). You can sign up for a free trial and listen to your first two books for free.
Social Anxiety Masterclass: The Social Anxiety Masterclass is my signature course where I walk you through everything I know about how to manage social anxiety. If you're not ready to enroll in the course, be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter to hear about special deals!