Tips for People with Social Anxiety

Finding out I have social anxiety was really revolutionary for me. While I knew I had other forms of anxiety, I thought I handled people pretty well since I talk to people, and generally people like me. When I learned what social anxiety is, I could identify with it, and I realized that there were things I could improve on so that I didn’t feel totally exhausted during and after any conversation and so that I wouldn’t take any means to avoid talking to someone new. Here are a few things that have REALLY helped me in this realm.

 

Download Youper

Youper is an app that uses AI technology to act as your emotional assistant. The app has many helpful components, including Youper conversation, in which Youper asks you check-up questions to make you aware of your emotional state. If you’re experiencing negative emotions, it uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to help you analyze your negative thought patterns and reconfigure them to positive thought patterns. CBT is what I have learned to use in my daily life to cope and thrive with my multiple forms of anxiety and PTSD, so I know it is extremely effective. The app has plenty of other functions, too, including a personality test (based off the Myers-Briggs model) to help you adjust your emotions based on your predispositions. Also, “check-ins” are a feature I’ve really benefited from. You can track your monthly progress and learn from the months in which you struggled.  Though the app doesn’t aim to properly diagnose, it has helped me learn about my social anxiety (which has gone thus far under the radar because of other conditions) so that I can educate myself on how to live with it.

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Take a Deep Breath

The simplest and best technique I’ve used when in a conversation with somebody is to simply pause and take a breath before continuing the dialogue. When in a conversation with someone (could be a friend or a coworker or a stranger), my mind flutters with thoughts of what I should respond with and what they’re thinking of me, and I’m not actually engaged in the conversation. More often than not, I can’t even remember what we talked about, and I’m left with debilitating feelings of shame and embarrassment from not having properly engaged and not speaking authentically like myself. Instead of acting like a robot and speeding through the conversation, I consciously breathe and make eye contact, remind myself they’re only human like myself, and respond. It takes practice, and sometimes I must do that several times in a conversation, but it has done wonders to help me feel like I’m actually speaking like myself.

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Take Extra Time for Yourself Before Large Events

These “large” events are totally subjective. A first date is a big event for me. So is going to a new prof’s office hours for the first time. Knowing that I will be totally vulnerable and nervous during the event, I take however long I need (often hours) before the occasion to prep myself and do proper self-care. This is personal and depends on your needs. Sometimes that means eating a nice meal and nourishing your body. Other times it’s working on a project so you feel productive and, in turn, you feel more self-confident. Whenever I have to rush to an event that I’m not emotionally prepared for, I know I’m not acting like my best self. Taking the time for yourself is affirming that you deserve to feel comfortable and it helps you feel more in control of the situation - especially if you can convince yourself that you actually want to go.

 

These tips are a step in the right direction for those with social anxiety. It’s personal, so different things work for different people, but I hope someone can benefit from these steps that work for me.