When you have to speak in front of a group of people, do you feel the shakes and cold sweats? That's an extremely vivid example of social anxiety – a fear of being negatively judged. People with severe social anxiety tend to have few friends and wish to interact with as few people as possible. There are milder forms (which are far more common) and that usually takes form in missed opportunities. Honestly, I'm pretty sure "public speaking" lands on everyone's list of top 10 fears. If you're dealing with it, there are so many things that you can do!
1. Acknowledge It
First things first, acknowledge the fact that anxiety is totally natural. It's the normal response to perceived danger – your mind and body ready themselves for 'fight or flight' by producing adrenaline. Without it, we wouldn't be able to perform at our best. It's also natural to be concerned with what others think of you – you just have to work on not letting these thoughts consume you.
2. Know Your Reality
Anxiety tends to exaggerate dangers. Bad thoughts will easily lead to a racing heart! So, tune into your thoughts and change the way you're thinking about things. Instead of, "I'm getting anxious," think "I'm getting excited!" It'll help you feel more prepared and capable.
It might sound super cliché but trust me, it works. One of the worst things about anxiety is the feeling that once it starts, it just continues to build. So, take a minute to clear your head and just breathe. Take in your surroundings and know that you control what happens next.
4. Shift Your Focus
Anxiety always turns your attention inward. You start to notice your heart racing, you start to worry that your hands are shaking, etc. Try shifting your attention and focus on something else. If you're in the middle of a conversation with someone, focus on what it is they're really saying instead of focusing on what it is you're going to say next.
5. Step out of Your Comfort Zone
To really deal with social anxiety, you have to be willing to experience discomfort. Some things are worth doing even if you're anxious about them! Think of all the amazing opportunities you could have if you stood up to your anxiety!
How do you cope with social anxiety?