Social Anxiety

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

The thought of going to a social gathering can feel overwhelming. The thought alone may get your heart beating faster. What’s meant to be fun can be a “terrifying” experience. Here are some tools to help you with the social event. These events can include personal or work gatherings, birthdays, weddings and so on. While it can be easier to skip, I want you to go!

Look Your Best

Looking your best can help you feel more comfortable and confident. Spending more time on your appearance can give you that boost of confidence. Let me explain my two work looks. *The first look: I like my outfit; my hair is brushed and I manage to put on a bit of makeup. I look professional and polished. *The second look: the “I needed more sleep” look. I look like I just rolled out of bed and honestly… I did! I put on a comfortable outfit and did the very basics of brushing my teeth and washing my face.

If you feel more confident you will perform better at the event. Don’t buy a new outfit or get your hair done. It’s not about anything superficial. It is about YOU feeling your best and boosting your confidence. Spend the time and put the effort into your appearance. As Scott Barnes stated recently, “If you look your best, you feel your best. If you look at yourself and feel better, that’s power.”

Prep Your Conversation

I’ve been in situations where I’m in the middle of a conversation and start fumbling my words. I start talking fast and my face feels flushed. My brain is desperately trying to formulate a sentence. All I can think is “I want to get away.” This can be an overwhelming experience and instill a level of fear of social situations. My advice is to wait until you feel calm and collective to start talking about yourself or tell a story. Allow yourself to focus completely on the other guests. It’s often been said that people love to talk about themselves so take advantage of that! Go in with the priority of learning about other guests.

Ask questions. “How are you” is a good ice breaker. Or you can give a compliment. From there you can ask more specific questions: -What city do you live in? Did you travel far to get here? -Do you like living in ___________? -How do you know the host? Where did you two meet? -Do you have any travel plans for Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall? -Do you have any children? Do you have any pets? -What do you do for work? How has your experience been? As you start calming down, share about yourself. Think of some interesting facts ahead of time. Recent vacations, concerts or movies. Or even your favorite restaurants.

Hype Yourself Up…

in your car. Visualize yourself going into the event and getting to meet one or two new people. It is just an event. Keep in mind that people are attending to connect to others, network and have a good time. Their goal is not to determine whether or not they like you. Try not to personalize the event. Everyone there wants to have a great time and at the end of the night they will not fill out a form to criticize or judge you. Use positive affirmations, which are comments that compliment you. Some of my favorites are “I can do this”, “I got this” and “It will get easier and easier.” Remember, no one can build you up or tear you down like yourself. Don’t be too tough on yourself. The worst thing that can happen is that people don’t want to chat. And in that case, it’s no big deal!

Don’t be Late

Walking in to a room with less people is always easier.

You can Walk Away

You are never forced to stay at an event. If you feel overwhelmed or over stimulated allow yourself to take a break. Walk to the restroom, grab a drink or get some food. It is ok to take a moment to recollect yourself, build yourself back up with a pep talk and do some deep breathing. Five seconds in and five seconds out. I’ve walked to the restroom on numerous occasions to get a moment alone to reboot. I collect my thoughts in my mind and then I head back.

Don’t ever feel stuck or trapped. You can leave at any time. If you are asked you can simply say, “I have to get up early” or “It was so nice meeting you but I have to get going.”

Talk to a Therapist

Social anxiety is a form of anxiety. If you feel that it is affecting your ability to function or becoming worse seek out a therapist. A therapist will be able to personalize treatment specifically for you.

Final Thoughts

Social anxiety can be very challenging and contribute to isolation. It can prevent us from going to important social events. It can make us feel that others are going to judge us harshly and in an unkind manner. Remember that others do not have the agenda to make a determination about you. If social anxiety is severely affecting you remember that it is treatable in therapy.

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