Tips for dealing with social anxiety

Social Anxiety At A Restaurant

Big crowds make you nervous? How about an one on one conversation? Don’t sweat it, its more common than you think.

Situation: In class, the teacher asks you a question. The spotlight is on you. You start to panic because…

  • You don’t want to be laughed at for the wrong answer.
  • You start thinking about previous panic attacks.
  • You are feeling weird body sensations.
  • You want to impress someone you like.

These are just a few reasons why you could suffer from social anxiety. Here are a few things to keep in mind for your next social engagement.

Be prepared

Having a game plan is key. Knowing how to deal with whatever is thrown at you will help build your confidence.

Situation: Going to a party?

Bring someone you know with you. If they are not aware of your social phobias, explain it to them. Let them know you would like for them to stick by you until you feel comfortable. Use this person as a crutch (Read my advice on functioning with anxiety). This will help reassure you and build confidence.

Practice Visualization

Situation: Going to a restaurant with friends?

Well before the engagement, run through the entire event in your mind. Close your eyes and watch it like a movie. See yourself getting seated, looking at the menu and smiling. Enjoying yourself. Understand that doing this should be a pleasant process. So try not to bring any negative thoughts or experiences into your visualization exercise. If you find yourself drifting and thinking about previous experiences – Stop, take a break and begin again. If you are not familiar with doing this type of exercise it may be difficult at first, but it will get easier every time you do it. You may be able to focus for only a few seconds, but over time it will increase.

Stop trying to control the outcome

When anxiety sets in its usually because things are not going the way you want them to. Two prime examples is rush hour traffic and supermarket lines. I don’t know anyone who likes traffic or waiting in line. As a person who suffers from panic attacks, you tend to want to do things in hyper speed. In and out, no waiting, everything in a rush. THIS is why you have the attack. You see a line and then you get worked up. Try thinking about something else instead. Understand that when you are in line at the grocery store, you do not have to be social. You don’t have to talk to people in front and behind you. You can use this time to drift off and think about something you like or need to do later. Taking your mind off of what can potential affect your mood is key to reducing the likelihood of an attack. Think about the basketball game thats going to be on later tonight. The players, the playoffs, the awesome slam dunk your favorite player did. Think about the last time you were at the beach, how sunny it was, how many good looking people were there. If you are good at math, how about adding up your grocery total while putting things on the conveyor belt. You get the gist. Instead of rushing and worrying about getting out, just focus on something else. Couple this with some visualization and you’ll be out of the store before you know it.

Take care of yourself

Most people that have panic attacks are worrying about passing out, having a heart attack or even dying. This is something that you can eliminate from your thoughts if you take care of yourself, health wise.

  • Get proper sleep
  • Eat healthier foods
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine and excess sugars
  • Get a checkup

Something as simple as regular checkups with your doctor will give you peace of mind. Knowing that your heart is healthy will eliminate thoughts of an heart attack. Knowing you just walked 1 mile at the park or on the treadmill will validate your ability to stand in line without passing out. Little things like this will help your subconscious mind feel at ease.