Almost 13% of the world’s population suffer from social anxiety, a crippling debilitating affliction that can impact daily life in massive ways.

Fear of social situations can mean some people don’t want to leave their house or communicate with others, as when they do they may experience panic attacks, emotional instability and other unpleasant symptoms.

However, although these anxiety attacks make it seem as though there is no way out, there are ways to overcome social anxiety, which will greatly improve your life.

1. Be Alone

Spend some time alone and get to know yourself, what calms you down and what makes you happy. A lot of people with social anxiety are also introverts and like their own company.

If you’re feeling anxious, embrace this and spend some time on your own to calm you down and make yourself feel comforted. However, be careful you don’t make a habit of isolating yourself, which won’t help your social anxiety. Use your alone time as a way to refuel and prepare you to head back out into the world.

2. Say Yes

Perhaps one of the hardest tips to actually put into practice, but it is definitely the most rewarding and actually quite simple in theory. Say yes to more things. That’s it. If somebody invites you to a party that you’d usually decline and shy away from, say yes without thinking about it first.

Of course, only say yes to what you’re comfortable with and don’t go outside of your moral compass – but stepping outside your comfort zone every now and then and saying yes to things that scare you (in a good way) will help alleviate some of the social anxiety that you feel.

3. Exaggerate Your Fears

This is something I picked up a while ago and was surprised it actually works. If you’re scared of something, tell a story about what the worst possible outcome could be.

Exaggerate it to the point of silliness and after a few times of doing this, you’ll realise how ridiculous your fear is and eventually, it won’t seem as scary.

4. Distract Yourself

If you’re feeling anxious about a particular event or situation, distract yourself. There are plenty of apps out there built to help calm you down and meditate – or if you’re not feeling meditation, download a gripping game and play it when you start to feel those anxious feelings coming.

Find something that works for you. I went through a phase of completing Sudoku puzzles when I felt anxious as it helped calm me down and distracted me from whatever I was worrying about. That doesn’t mean it will go altogether, but it can sometimes provide a much-needed temporary fix.

Anxiety doesn’t have to be life-altering and debilitating. As you learn more about yourself and the things that bring on your social anxiety, you will understand the ways in which you can best cope with it.

What do you do to handle your social anxiety? Know another person who could do with these tips? Send this article their way too.

Christina Lawson, B.A.

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