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5 Tools to Overcome Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can affect people in different ways and to varying degrees. It can range from feeling self-conscious or nervous occasionally, especially in unfamiliar situations or when you think you’ll be evaluated by others—to feelings of intense and debilitating fear.

Some situations may be so frightening that you get anxious just thinking about them and go to great lengths to avoid them.

There are tools and techniques you can try to lessen social anxiety and even help you overcome it.

Try these five and see what works best for you.

1. Monitor Your Thoughts

Your thoughts have power. They influence your emotions and your actions. That’s why it’s vital to monitor your thoughts and challenge your negative and anxious thought patterns. At times you may feel like there’s nothing you can do about the way you feel and how you think. Although, in reality, monitoring your thoughts is a step toward control.

What direction do your thoughts tend to lead? Identifying and challenging your negative thoughts can be an effective way to reduce symptoms of social anxiety.

You may notice anxious thoughts automatically popping into your head when you think of specific social situations. Analyze these thoughts and challenge them. Do you tend to assume the worst in these situations?

Through this logical evaluation of your thoughts, you can gradually replace negative thinking with more realistic and positive ways of looking at social situations that trigger your anxiety. Changing the way you think takes time, patience and practice, but it’s a powerful tool in overcoming social anxiety.

2. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Meditation, yoga and focused breathing are techniques that can help relax you and ease social anxiety.

There are many forms of meditation, included progressive relaxation, mindfulness, visualization, mantra and more. It’s not the type of meditation you choose that’s important; it’s the consistency in which you practice. For example, daily meditation (even for 5 minutes at a time) is more beneficial than weekly meditation for an hour.

Yoga is a practice that can also lead to increased relaxation. Like, meditation, yoga is most effective when practiced regularly. If you’re comfortable, taking an in-person group yoga class can have the added benefit of experiencing relaxation in a social setting.

The easiest and quickest relaxation technique of the three is focused breathing. There are numerous techniques, such as belly breathing, box breathing and alternate nostril breathing, to name a few popular methods. Focused breathing can be done virtually anywhere, any time and can have immediate effects.