Your hands are damp with sweat. Your heart is racing. You’re pacing back and forth. No, you aren’t getting ready to jump out of a plane—you’re getting ready to give a presentation. Or, to talk to your boss. Or maybe, just to simply meet up with some co-workers for lunch. For people with social anxiety, even relatively mundane interactions can be terrifying. In this post, we’ll share our suggestions for what can help with debilitating social anxiety.
1. Deep Breathing Exercises for Managing Social Anxiety
Believe it or not, deep breathing is more complicated than you might think. But, with practice, you can learn how to use this technique—not just before a stressful social encounter—throughout your whole day. As deep breathing becomes second nature, it actually may promote an overall sense of well-being and help you feel more relaxed.
Here’s what you need to know: There are two kinds of breathing, “chest breathing” and “abdominal breathing.” Abdominal breathing is the one you want to practice because it forces more air into the lower lobes of your lungs, where blood flow is greatest. Put your hand on your stomach and experiment with your breathing until you feel your hand move. That’s abdominal breathing.
2. Give Yourself Objective Goals
Objective: that’s the key word. People who suffer from social anxiety tend to be overly critical of their performance in social situations—even when they perform well! So, here’s what you can do to get around this. Think about the things you want to accomplish in any social situation. For example, let’s say you’re sitting in a meeting or a class. A reasonable objective would be to contribute one comment or ask one question in front of the group. That’s it. Write it down beforehand so you don’t forget and to lessen your chances of backing out at the last minute.
After the social interaction, whatever it was, ask yourself a question. Did you achieve the objective you set for yourself? Forget about the outcome. Did you do it? That’s all that matters. Now, gradually add more goals until you can participate in social settings without worrying quite so much about your perceived performance. And that brings us to our next suggestion…
3. Don’t Let Your Inner Critic Push You Around
No one is harder on yourself than you are. When you think back on your daily interactions with friends, family members, coworkers or classmates, there is a very good chance that no one remembers whatever thing you said or did that is now dominating your thoughts. It’s ok to feel embarrassed in the moment, but afterward, you owe it to yourself to move on. We know this is much easier said than done, but try to remind yourself that your value as a person isn’t defined by your most recent social faux pas—real or perceived.
Growth Extended Can Help with Social Anxiety
At Growth Extended, we believe in your ability to overcome social anxiety. If these tips aren’t enough, or if you’re also struggling with other psychological conditions, including addiction, depression or eating disorders, we can help. We offer three levels of care to fit your lifestyle, and we are able to work with most major insurance companies. Gives us a call, or fill out our form today.