How to stop having social anxiety sounds like the name of an infomercial. I can picture it now… a man is trembling and shaking… cut to the “stop social anxiety now” cure.
This revolutionary cure will only cost you $14.99. But wait, if you order now, you can get two social anxiety gizmos for the price of one. If only such a gizmo existed, social anxiety would be a thing of the past–and someone would be very rich.
No, when we talk about how to stop having social anxiety, we usually talk about the known treatments. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or medication are the usual go-to’s, though these are not cures, they are treatments.
And if you are at home reading this I certainly suggest talking to your doctor or having a trusted person go with you. Particularly if your anxiety is severe, there is no substitute for the help of a trained professional.
However, if your social anxiety is mild or moderate, or if you are looking to deal with some symptoms on your own, then trying to help yourself is not a bad idea. To help you with this endeavor, let’s consider the “Coles Notes” version of what I would suggest you do.
Evaluate Your Health Habits
First, if you are living with social anxiety, the first thing I suggest is to do an inventory of your physical health habits.
Make sure you are eating healthy food, getting regular exercise, practicing sleep hygiene (watch screen time and caffeine before bed), and taking vitamins and supplements as needed. This is the most basic foundation that you can lay to reduce your social anxiety.
Learn How to Relax
Next, I suggest you learn how to relax. By this I don’t mean lounging on the coach; nope, I mean actually practicing a relaxation technique such as progressive muscle relaxation.
Once you’ve learned how to get your body to enter a relaxed state, it will be much easier for you to call upon this ability when you find yourself in stressful situations.
Evaluate Your Thoughts
After that, my next suggestion is to take some time evaluating your thought patterns. Do you have negative self-talk? If so, you’ve got some work to do. Often these thoughts are so automatic you might not even notice or recognize when you are having them.
I recommend that you start keeping a though log (really just a journal where you write down your thoughts). If you find yourself in a situation that causes you a lot of anxiety, write down what you were thinking at the time. Then, take a moment and evaluate how realistic that thought was. Is it the absolute truth or just a story you are telling yourself? Then, find a better thought.
Finally, I suggest that you start to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. Doing so will help you to live more in the present and less in the past and future. Social anxiety traps you in a neverending cycle of “What if’s” and mindfulness helps to shut this down.
You can try things like yoga, meditation, or just going for a walk in the woods while paying attention to what is around you. The important thing is to slow down your mind to the point that you are aware and observing but not judging. A nonjudgemental attitude is at the center of mindfulness.
Develop Social Skills
Not everyone with social anxiety will struggle with social skills. However, my view is that it can never hurt to learn more about the best ways to make friends, have conversations, network for business, read body language, etc.
This is one area where you can actually build a skill that will help to bolster your success in overcoming social anxiety—so I totally recommend you do it even if you think you don’t need to.
There really is no magic bullet or cure for social anxiety. It does take perseverance and hard work. But if you’re willing to put in the hard work—focus on your health, practice relaxation, watch your thoughts, be mindful, and develop your social skills—you will set yourself up for a much more successful outcome.