The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented event in modern history. The loss of a sense of normalcy can induce anxiety in anyone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, social anxiety is defined as an intense fear of being observed or judged by others. Some young people became reclusive as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, but returning to the public could cause their social anxiety to flare up again. If you suffer from social anxiety, here are some suggestions for overcoming it.
It can be very tempting to stay in bed all day, especially if there’s something on Netflix you’ve been dying to watch, but doing so can prevent you from moving around and battling social anxiety. A light exercise routine or a stroll around the neighborhood can be effective ways to move around. Consider going to the gym and walking on the treadmill or taking a class if you have a gym membership. It will get you moving, and by the end of your workout, you may begin to feel better. The gym may be a place you wish to avoid, but exposing yourself to it could be beneficial. This could also be your chance to engage in activities outside of your normal routine. When you’re in a rut, you may feel like you’re living the same day over and over again, so it wouldn’t hurt to switch things up occasionally.
Some individuals who experience social anxiety tend to hold their breath. You can begin by searching for breathing exercises on YouTube or downloading a meditation app. You could also try listening to sleep sounds through music apps such as Pandora and Spotify. This music has the ability to calm your anxiety and make you feel in control of your emotions. Concentrate on your breathing by inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is an effective way to calm yourself. In addition, take the time to relax your shoulders and jaw. You are repressing your anxiety instead of releasing it, which is a habit that many people have without realizing it. If you feel as though your anxiety is about to flare up or that things are out of your control, simply inhale and exhale, and you should begin to feel better.
Do not emphasize the negative
When coping with social anxiety, negative thoughts are likely to circulate in your mind, causing you to feel inadequate or to believe that no one wants to be your friend. However, the mere fact that you believe something does not make it true. Find some uplifting affirmations, write them down, and repeat them as often as necessary. If you believe it would be beneficial, write the affirmations on sticky notes and post them where you will see them daily. If you dislike writing things down, find a YouTube video of positive affirmations and watch it every morning before you begin your day. Ask one of your closest friends what quality about you they appreciate the most. Try to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, and you will experience a significant improvement in your mental state. By doing so, you may begin to feel better about yourself and become more motivated to leave the house.
Leaving the house can initially feel like a daunting task, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. If you feel comfortable, you can begin by walking around your neighborhood or the local mall. Once you feel like you’ve mastered this, you can progress to lunch or dinner with a close, trusted friend. Once you feel ready, you could even try dining alone at a restaurant. Going to a movie by yourself could also be beneficial, as you won’t have to interact with many people and will spend most of the time in the dark. Try going to a real cashier as a practice exercise instead of using self-checkout as a means of overcoming your social anxiety. Utilize this time to hone your interpersonal skills. By taking these small steps, you are preparing yourself for larger goals, demonstrating your desire to change, and committing to that change.
Commemorate Your Achievements
After achieving one of your small objectives, you should not be afraid to celebrate. You once thought you wouldn’t be able to attend that dinner, but you did, so don’t be shy about giving yourself credit. Purchase ice cream, engage in a self-care routine, or get dressed up for no reason to celebrate yourself. If you feel confident, you can explore your city on your own. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, keep in mind that every little bit counts and that you can only improve day by day.
If These Methods Do Not Work
If you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing is working, it may not be a bad idea to consult a professional. Friends can be helpful for venting, but they do not have the same tools at their disposal as professional therapists. A therapist could provide you with exercises or, if necessary, prescribe medication. Participation in a support group for individuals with social anxiety may also be beneficial.