Do you get nervous around crowds of people? Do you become nervous before giving a public presentation? These are common examples of social anxiety. Social anxiety is defined as anxiety anticipating a social situation or anxiety during or after that situation. People who have social anxiety simply don't want to stand out. They want to be as inconspicuous as possible. Thankfully, there are some steps that you can take to become less socially anxious!
1) Create an Exposure Hierarchy.
Start by writing down situations that cause you anxiety in order of severity. Next, perform the easiest behavior, and keep moving up the list. This list could start with something as simple as starting a conversation with a neighbor and end with joining a public speaking class. By working through your fears, you can learn to overcome them.
2) Practice Breathing Exercises
Engaging in deep breathing before an anxiety-provoking social situation can be helpful. Practicing this exercise each day allows it to become second nature which is helpful if you need to implement it during a social engagement.
3) Read a Self Help Manual
Self help manuals are designed to supplement therapy. They can give you the tools you need to make progress on your own!
5) Create Objective Goals
When people feel anxious, they tend to ignore the positive of a situation. They might do well, but because of their feelings of anxiousness, they see their performance as terrible. Creating objective behavioral goals can boost confidence levels and ensure positive outcomes of any social event. Once example of this may be going into a gathering with a goal to introduce yourself to at least 2 new people.
6) Stay Rational
Understand that your negative self talk is not true. If you're telling yourself before giving a speech, "I'm going to bomb." But you've given speeches before and done well, then this is not a realistic thought. Instead, more positive self talk would be more appropriate, "I've done this before and am prepared, so I will do the best I can."