How To Overcome Social Anxiety
Published on April 26th, 2021
Updated on September 30th, 2023
Social anxiety can be a challenging condition to cope with. When a person struggles with social anxiety, they struggle to feel comfortable in social situations. This discomfort around others causes affected people to withdraw, and disengage from the conversation and social interactions.
Feeling like you are socially anxious can really hold you back. Often affected people feel that they are presenting themselves as awkward or unappealing to be around. This is the result of feeling anxious or nervous when interacting with others and believing as though they are the only ones who are feeling nervous in the group or social interaction.
Overcoming social anxiety can be challenging. Social anxiety can cause great struggle with being comfortable with even the most simple of social situations. Fortunately, there are methods to overcome social anxiety. Some small habitual changes can be enough to help affected people feel more comfortable with socializing. They can also help others not see these people as awkward or uncomfortable to be around.
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If you are struggling with social anxiety, consider utilizing the following ways to overcome social anxiety.
1. Communicate Through Body Language
A great way to prevent yourself from seeming socially anxious is to use your own body language to communicate that you are relaxed and comfortable. Typically, a person with social anxiety will communicate with their body language that they are uncomfortable.
This can be through folding arms, shutting down, slouching, or avoiding eye contact. This can be challenging for people with social anxiety because the people around them pick up on this body language, even if the affected person does not realize what they are doing with their body.
People tend to be uncomfortable when they are around uncomfortable people. This is why communicating through body language is so important. If you can use your body language to communicate that you are comfortable and relaxed (even if it is not entirely true), others will feel the same around you. This will prevent them from feeling like you are socially anxious or uncomfortable to be around.
Changing your body language can be easy. Some examples of how to seem less socially anxious through body language include:
- Keeping your arms relaxed at your sides
- Keeping your shoulders rolled back so you have a wide chest
- Keeping your chin up
- Preventing yourself from fidgeting
- Nodding along with conversation (even if you do not have anything to contribute to the conversation)
2. Learn How To Be Comfortable With Eye Contact
When learning how to overcome your social anxiety, it is really helpful to maintain eye contact. Maintaining eye contact communicates to a person that you are engaged with them. It also communicates that you are not intimidated by them or that you feel as though you belong and should be interacting with them.
If maintaining eye contact is too challenging at first, you have other options. You can use the alternative of focusing your gaze on the space between a person’s eyebrows. This can be less pressure on a person with social anxiety, as it is not as intimate as eye to eye contact, but is not easily detectable by others in a social situation. To them, it seems as though you are looking at them in the eye.
3. Remember To Smile
Sometimes speaking up can be too challenging for a person with social anxiety. Fortunately, there are other options besides talking to communicate that you are engaged with others in a group. Whether in conversation or participating in an activity, a smile can make a huge difference in how you feel and how others perceive you.
A smile is a powerful gesture. It communicates friendliness and openness. It can also communicate that you are comfortable, even if you are not actively participating in the activity or conversation. Smiling can also help you feel relaxed. The gesture can communicate to the brain that you are relaxed, which can help you feel more comfortable.
4. Breathe Through The Anxiety
When we are nervous, we tend to breathe shallowly. This shallow breathing can cause the muscles to tense and the brain to stay in an anxious state. On the other hand, if you can breathe deeply and regularly, you will be able to minimize the anxiety you are feeling.
Breathing can be powerful. Practicing breathing exercises can help you relieve stress in the moment. There are different ways to practice deep breathing. Different types of breaths can help you feel more comfortable, so consider learning more about breathing exercises before the next social interaction.
5. When In Doubt, Ask Questions
Conversations can be tough to maintain, especially when you have social anxiety. A great way to manage your anxiety while in conversation is to ask the people around you some questions. This can be a great skill to use because it keeps the spotlight off of you, which can help you feel more comfortable in the moment.
Asking questions can also help you find common interests and similarities with others. When you get to know others and find that you can relate to them, you may find that your social anxiety subsides, and engaging with them becomes easier with time.
6. Get Professional Help And Guidance
Social anxiety is a treatable condition. Many affected people respond well to therapy from a mental health professional, and so can you. If you find yourself struggling to feel comfortable in social situations, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. They can help you learn skills for coping with stress in the moment, along with communication exercises to use with others.