When Social Anxiety Strikes, Here Are Some Coping Tips That Might Help

Social anxiety is the excessive fear of being judged by others in a negative way

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahPublished at: Apr 19, 2022Updated at: Apr 19, 2022
When Social Anxiety Strikes, Here Are Some Coping Tips That Might Help

You prepare well for your presentation, practice it a thousand times, there is no scope for any error. But, as soon as you start with it with your colleagues and boss staring right at you, you start getting extremely self-conscious. Suddenly your face starts heating up, your palms all sweaty, and you find it difficult to go through with it. Many of us have either witnessed or faced such a scenario. It’s quite common to get nervous while speaking in front of people. However, social anxiety is much more severe and distressing than that. Often confused with shyness and introversion, social anxiety is the excessive fear of being judged negatively by others, as per a leading psychology website. The result: the person might get extremely self-conscious and scared. Since we live in a culture where it’s crucial to communicate your thoughts well, one can only imagine the impact this condition can have on the chances of a person advancing in his/her academic or professional pursuits.

If you too face such a situation, it’s better to first consult a mental health expert. Depending on the diagnosis, your treatment will be initiated. Although the treatment is irreplaceable, some coping tips might help you when your social anxiety kicks in. Even if you are on medication, or are up for therapy, these tips might help you to diffuse the anxiety triggered by the social situations.

How To Cope When Social Anxiety Kicks In

There are ways to deal with social anxiety

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

Here are some of the ways you can deal with social anxiety:

1# Just Breathe

Now this one sounds extremely simple. Breathing. Doesn’t every living being on this planet breathes? But, when you think deeply, breathing can reflect your mental state. When you are anxious, your breath gets rapid and shallow. On the other hand, when you are at peace, you breathe at a normal pace and deeply. Since breath can tell that you are anxious, why not use it to slow yourself down? Next time, when you are faced with social anxiety and you can’t think clearly:

  • Sit or stand straight with your spine erect and your shoulders relaxed.
  • Breathe in for 4 seconds.
  • Then, hold that breath for two seconds.
  • Gently, breathe out for 6 seconds.
  • Repeat this as many times as you want till you start feeling better.

2# Shift Your Focus Elsewhere

The moment social anxiety strikes, thoughts run wild in your head. You get restless, your heart pounding, your palms getting sweaty. But since you are in a social situation, you cannot just run away to your safe space, and relax. And no matter how difficult it is, you have to talk to people around you and act alright. Although this one might be a bit difficult, whenever you face such a situation, try to shift the focus from what is going inside you to what is going on around you. Start focusing on the conversation, the people around you, and the situation you are in. Refocusing your attention will shift your focus from your anxiety to other things, a distraction in simpler words, which might help you to deal with the situation better.

3# Use Your Senses As Your Anxiety-Fighting Tools

Social anxiety is a mental health issue

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

Saints, yoga instructors, and life coaches swear by mindfulness. And why not? It’s a wonderful tool to manage stress, anxiety, to get calm and relaxed. You can also cope with social anxiety by being mindful. And for that, you can use your senses as your tools. So next time you feel anxious:

  • Look at a picture that calms you down
  • Listen to your favourite song
  • Chew gum of the flavour you like

Or, something similar, whatever does the trick.

Also read: Types Of Anxiety Disorders And Ways To Manage Them

4# Prepare

Now, this is not for when anxiety kicks in but is done much before that to prevent or reduce the severity of anxiety in the first place. If you have figured out that certain social situations make you anxious, then it’s a better deal to prepare beforehand. When going to a class, try to arrive a few minutes early and select the seat you find the most comfortable. Also, the time will give you some space to get acquainted with the surroundings and the people around you, which might reduce the severity of anxiety. 

5# Don’t Jump Into Big Social Situation

It’s good to set goals, but healthy and realistic ones are generally those that pay off in the long run. This rings true for social anxiety as it does for life. Hence, just jumping without a parachute in a big social situation might not be the ideal thing to do. You have a greater chance of crashing to the ground than flying high.

Hence, when dealing and coping with social anxiety, start small, and build upon your accomplishments. If eating out is tedious for you, start by going out with people you are comfortable with, your friends and family members. Once you are comfortable with that, you can do the same with other people. And, who knows, you might even start liking hanging out with people in such settings, and next time you might call others to share a hearty meal and an enjoyable time.

Also read: Signs That You Are Struggling With High Functioning Anxiety

So, these are some of the coping tricks you can try the next time social anxiety starts getting the best of you. However, remember it’s not a personality trait but a mental health condition that might need medical help. Hence, the first step should be to get yourself checked and follow the treatment your doctor advises. And about these techniques -- who told you, you can’t inculcate these while undergoing treatment?

Photo Credit: Freepik