Social Anxiety, does it even exist? Let me tell you what happens to me. My heart begins to race whenever I need to speak to a stranger or an audience! It is even worse if I am meeting an important person for the first time. Secondly, is cold chills and I find myself avoiding eye contact? Finally the blushing, trembling, sweating, and that horrible feeling you get when your mind has gone blank! All of these are common symptoms of social anxiety. So if you are like me and feel uncomfortable in social situations, you are definitely not alone.
Public Speaking Fears
Concerns about public speaking, visiting new places or meeting new people are common fears. A study of social phobia reported that 80% of people feared speaking in public so much they would prefer to go to the dentist.
Luckily, there are positive ways to cope with the anxiety you feel in social situations.
5 steps to build your courage and defeat your social fears
Practice positive visualization.
Most, if not all, of the fears that we face in social situations, involve imagining the worst thing that might happen. Practice imagining the best thing that could happen the next time you feel nervous in a social situation.
Using your imagination to visualise safe, happy, and exciting scenes reduces fear, and your subconscious mind works for you not against you.
Caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants can raise the level of anxiety you feel in social situations. Limiting your intake and eating easily digested food will increase your sense of well-being.
- Choose to go to bed early. The more prepared you are, the more confidence in your ability you will have.
- Avoid the temptation to drink alcohol at social events. Alcohol will contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress, plus raise your blood pressure and body temperature.
Learn to relax.
- Focus on your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths and consciously relax your muscles. Breathe to a rhythm In to count of 4, Out to count of 6
- Yoga, Tai-Chi, and meditation are all excellent disciplines that can help teach you how to relax and naturally slow your breathing and lower your anxiety levels.
Practice interacting with others.
You can feel more confident by practicing what to say and do in various social situations.
- Get started by asking a close friend or loved one to help you practice saying hello, shaking hands, smiling, and making eye contact with others. As you gain confidence from these short interactions, slowly increase the number and duration of your social encounters.
- Focus on other people in social situations helps reduce stress.
- If you are not sure about what to talk about, ask questions. Questions about family, work, sport, travel, entertainment, etc… Get the other person talking and you can relax and enjoy the conversation. Everyone loves to talk about their life, their family, their passions.
Repeat positive I Choose statements.
- What we think about, we tend to bring about. Focus only on your positive qualities and traits. Focus on the outcome you want. You choose your Outcome!
- There is incredible power in the spoken word! Create your own ‘I choose’ affirmations by making lists of your positive traits and repeating them out loud to yourself each day.
Start each affirmation with…. “I CHOOSE to know “
I CHOOSE to Know I can relax and enjoy myself in every social situation!
I CHOOSE to Know it is safe for me to be seen and heard
I CHOOSE to know it is safe for me to enjoy social functions.
I CHOOSE to know I enjoy meeting new people and interacting socially with others
You will know the right ones for you!!
By adding ‘I Choose to know’, you are ‘telling’ your subconscious mind, not asking. Suddenly you have ‘agreement’ – if this is what you know, this is what I will deliver’ and suddenly there are no more ‘doubtful words’ echoing in your mind.
Although social anxiety can be scary it is not impossible to overcome, the more you practice mixing socially the easier it will become.