After a long week, the last thing many of us want to do is get dressed up and go out. Finding comfy pants, a favorite chair, and a movie sounds like the perfect plan. But for millions of adults, every social invitation brings on that same feeling and very real anxiety about social situations takes over.
If you find yourself avoiding leaving your home because of any level of anxiety, you’re missing out on building great relationships and great memories. Shared below are a few baby steps you can take to reduce social anxiety, feel comfortable in social settings, and start living a full life.
Here Are 6 Ways You Can Reduce Social Anxiety
Find A Friend
Social settings are often loud and overwhelming. Add in the logistics of going somewhere new – where do you park? How do you order off of a new menu? What do you wear? And it’s too much to handle. Find one or two close friends to go with you. Often having a small group of people to help navigate the “new” turns a large social gathering into a small intimate group event. Suddenly it’s less overwhelming and a lot more fun.
Be Accountable to Someone
Plan a weekly outing with someone, so you have an accountability partner. Adding a second person’s schedule and feelings to the equation often means that you’ll be more likely to stick with a commitment. Consider joining a book club or finding a class at the gym. Even committing to 30 minutes after work on Thursdays to grab a plate of appetizers at the local pub is the perfect way to build up confidence for other social situations.
Say Hello to Strangers
Do you find yourself running for your door or acting busy when your neighbors walk by? Do you avoid making eye contact at the grocery store or library? It might be time to step out of your comfort zone and initiate some kindness.
People appreciate the simple gesture of a smile or a quick hello. A wave will often be met with a return wave. You don’t need to commit to a full conversation if you don’t want to, but these small gestures help build confidence all around.
Take A Class
Put yourself in a situation where you can stay busy doing something you enjoy. When you feel comfortable, try talking to some of your classmates – you know you have a common interest because you’re in the same class. Build your confidence, learn a new skill, and meet new people at the same time. It’s a win, win, win!
If you know you get overwhelmed or anxious in social situations, have conversation starters planned to help you work through awkward moments or uncomfortable silence. It can be as simple as asking, “Did you grow up around here?” Or, “do you have any pets?” Asking questions that lead to more questions is a great way to get a conversation started and ease some of the tension.
Keep A Positive Attitude
Many people who find they have social anxiety had a negative emotional experience earlier in life. Maybe they were bullied as kids, embarrassed by parents or teachers, or ridiculed unfairly for a failure years ago. After an emotionally traumatizing experience, it’s natural to be hurt and bitter. Give yourself time to heal and focus on being as positive as possible. Surround yourself with positive people. Compliment people every day. When you wake up in the morning, list five things you are grateful for. Eventually, the positive emotions will outweigh the negative, and your confidence will soar.
While millions of adults suffer from social anxiety, it’s often something that can be worked through with some determination.
You deserve to live a happy, full life, and finding positive people who want to see you be truly happy is a big part of that.
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*Original post published on May 22, 2019.
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