THINGS YOU CAN DO EVERYDAY TO CONQUER YOUR SOCIAL ANXIETY
People with social anxiety may avoid social situations due to the intense fear of being judged. Even though social anxiety disorder can cause you to avoid social situations altogether, you most likely experience anxiety while in solitude as well. In order to start every day off strong, here are 3 activities you can do on a daily basis to conquer social anxiety and improve on your symptoms over time.
1.) Take Care Of Your Appearance
“If you look good, you feel good, If you feel good, you play good, If you play good, they pay good.”– Deion Sanders, Sports Analyst, Hall of Fame NFL Player
The way you look affects how you feel. Why is this such a common mantra? Similar quotes have been repeated by many prominent figures from several professions— “if you look good you feel good”. This ranges from fortune 500 CEOs, musicians, to lawyers and everything in between. Doesn’t it seem counter intuitive that the most powerful and successful people in the world pay close attention to their outward appearance? Even going to the extremes of dishing out thousands of fashion designers. Yes, some of it is because of marketing, but what about the high performers that do not necessarily need to ‘look the part’?
One of Psychology Today’s four strategies to conquering social anxiety is to place your focus and attention outwards “If we turn our attention outward, focus on what’s happening around us, magically a lot of that bandwidth gets freed up and fills up with natural curiosity — what interests us, what questions we want to ask — and our own authenticity.”
Having a presentable clean look, helps you focus less on what other people think of your appearance. Thus, it allows you to focus more on your conversation.
Taking care of your appearance doesn’t necessarily mean attempting to cover every facial flaw by baking your face with makeup. It also doesn’t mean purchasing flashy designer clothing, but simply making yourself presentable. This could mean wearing a clean pair of jeans, combing your hair in the morning and brushing your teeth after every meal.
Taking care of your appearance is part of self-respect, in the same way cleaning your bedroom is. Self-esteem is heavily influenced by your actions and how a person perceives themselves. Treating yourself like you would a friend that you respect, makes it easier to view yourself in the same light, a positive one.
“The only way to get what you really want is to let go of what you don’t want”– Iyanla Vanzant
Meditation is the science of controlling your thoughts, and recognizing negative thinking patterns as they come. The intensity of your social anxiety ebbs and flows like the waves in the ocean. Sometimes you may even forget that you have social anxiety. However, when the intensity of your anxiety flares up, it’s easy to get lost in your thoughts, and not even realize you need to get grounded while you’re in the moment. Meditation can help you stabilize your mood, help you recognize when you are indeed panicking, and also regulate your emotions. There are alternative ways to meditate like fishing, or yoga.
A study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry in Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, did 8 weekly group classes, to find the effects of mindfulness meditation on generalized anxiety. They measured their stress reactivity using what they call a Trier Social Stress Tests(TSST). This test was done pre- and post treatment. A TSST consists of a 10 minute anticipation period before the test, then a 10 minute test period where a member delivers a speech, and then does mental-math(in your head) in front of an audience.
The results showed that mindfulness meditation practices lead to a significant increase in resilience to stressful psychological challenges. Resilience is defined as the ability to spring back from and overcome difficulties. Meaning that meditation can help you recover from social ‘errors’ and mishaps that stem from your social anxiety.
How to meditate for social anxiety
- Find a quiet room that is safe and free of disturbances
- Sit down cross legged, lay down, or any other preferred meditation pose.
- Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in a calm soothing place, (e.g. desert, mountains, forest etc.)
- Inhale through your nose, then exhale through your mouth
- Try to focus on your breathing
- When you have negative or positive thoughts, acknowledge them like clouds passing by in the sky, after that draw attention back to your breathing
When it comes to meditation there are a variety of techniques. For instance, people like to meditate and practice gratitude, others like to sit down and simply reflect on their day.
There is no specific way to meditate for social anxiety aside from practicing patience. Several studies show that changes in the brain resulting from meditation can take from 8-10 weeks. A small price to pay for mindfulness.
3.) Find A Creative Outlet
“Find three hobbies you love: One to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.”– Anonymous
There are a myriad of reasons many people lack a creative outlet In the modern era — home to the 40-hour work weeks. It’s easy to neglect your creative outlet. You might have grown up in a household where pursuing a creative hobby was considered a waste of time, especially if it didn’t directly equate to money, like some sort of math formula. Many people grow up, not sharing their talents with the world because of this.
Having a creative outlet puts you on a journey that allows you to express yourself, and cope with traumas that could be contributing to your social anxiety. Creative outlets are important for four reasons.
1.) Decision Making
Being in creative control forces you to act on your opinions and ambitions in your creative process. Making your own decisions is a skill that requires practice. Creative outlets force you to make multiple decisions. Multiple decisions in quick succession will cause you to fail rapidly. Then you’ll realize failures aren’t that big of a deal, whether in art, at your job, during social situations etc. Embracing failures is simply a part of the creative process.
2.) Exposure Therapy
A cool thing about creative outlets is that they give you an opportunity to share something with the world and be vulnerable, a type of exposure therapy. Whether you’re sharing a blog post, or a video, you’ll learn how to connect to others and realize that people relate to you more than you think. As you progress having people critique your work is inevitable. This may feel daunting at first, until you realize that no matter how many people enjoy your art, there will always be people that dislike/disagree with it, and that’s okay.
3.) Chance To Meet New People
Whether your creative outlet is writing, photography, or and everything in between, there are probably classes or workshops you can attend to meet new people that share your same interests. Many people with social anxiety find it easier to converse when social events are focused on a sole activity that they have an interest in.
4.) Further Your Career(bonus reason)
Viewing a hobby as hindering your career is completely wrong. A hobby and a side hustle are essentially the same thing. In this day and age, meeting the technical qualifications for a job just won’t cut it most of the time. Anytime a manager makes an online job posting they will receive dozens to hundreds of qualified applicants for the job. A hobby that is related to your job goes a long way. For instance, having a blog on stocks, while applying for a businesses analyst position demonstrates to a manager that you are truly interested in your field. Moreover, it simply makes you a more interesting person in general.