Anxiety is a normal mental response to many unfamiliar social situations, such as attending a party by yourself, your first day at a new job, or being called on stage at a concert. You feel it, it’s awkward, but it eventually goes away because you naturally adjust to the situation.
Those struggling with an actual anxiety disorder, though, chronically experience mild-to-severe stress and anxiety in everyday situations, such as going to the grocery store, attending class or work meetings, eating in public or engaging with coworkers. Depending on the severity of the condition, social anxiety can range from making it difficult to interact with others, all the way to prevent an individual from functioning in their day-to-day life.
There are many causes that lead a person to develop an anxiety disorder, and learning how to overcome social anxiety can be overwhelming (for some, terrifying), but it’s always possible.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the four best practices that people with anxiety can use to be more confident in social situations, and in their lives overall.
Tips to handle social situations
It’s important to remember that just engaging in these practices just once, a few times or even a dozen times is not enough to foster a truly sustainable sense of confidence and self-esteem. Changing our thinking and emotional patterns is often more difficult than we realize, and it often means addressing, unlearning and releasing years of unhealthy habits and behaviors.
Here are the four best practices for not only managing social anxiety but relieving it and replacing it with unshakeable confidence (even in uncomfortable social situations).
1. Don’t avoid social situations
The last thing you might want to do when you’re struggling with anxiety is intentionally placed yourself in a situation that’s going to heighten your symptoms, but it’s one of the most important steps. Confidence, like a muscle, requires time and effort to build and needs to be “worked out” regularly to be maintained.
You can’t become confident if you never give yourself opportunities to exercise confidence, so accept invitations to go places, meet new people and do things that make you uncomfortable.
2. Take care of your body
There’s a lot of emphases placed on self-care and self-love when it comes to anxiety (both of which are important), but taking care of your body is equally as vital. The foods we consume directly impact the health of our brain which, in turn, influences the state of our mental health.
Foods that are linked to the development and exacerbation of anxiety disorders include processed sugar (e.g., white sugar, not natural sugars like honey), nutrient-devoid carbs (e.g., white pasta and white bread), artificial ingredients and seed oils (e.g., canola, vegetable, corn).
In addition to prioritizing a healthy, balanced diet — whole grains, natural carbs, vegetables, clean protein, fruits — you can also implement things like chamomile tea and essential oils like lavender, that naturally relieve symptoms of anxiety.
3. Mean your “yes” and your “no”
Symptoms of anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, including overthinking, insecurities and people-pleasing tendencies, all of which inhibit an individual from authentically saying yes or no. This disorder often leads people to lack assertiveness which causes them to compulsively say “yes” (even when they want to say no), as well as get them into a rut where “no” is their default response (even when they want to say yes).
While this practice is simple in theory, learning how to clearly and kindly communicate your wants, needs and feelings to loved ones can be difficult. With practice, it becomes much easier, so be patient with yourself, say what you mean and mean what you say.
4. Seek professional support
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is seek the support of not only your friends and family but of a licensed professional (like a therapist) who can provide insights and guidance on a level your loved ones simply aren’t equipped to.
If you’re ready to overcome your social anxiety once and for all and would like to be surrounded and supported by a team of professionals along the way, send us a message.
Take the first step today
Tapestry is a premier behavioral health treatment center that specializes in offering mental health treatment to adolescents and adults, with an emphasis on full-spectrum healing. We understand that both mental and physical health issues are rarely isolated conditions and require a multifaceted approach to care that addresses the person’s mind, body and spirit.
Our passion is your recovery, and we’ll continue to believe in you on the days you struggle to believe in yourself. Take your healing one day at a time, and be compassionate towards yourself as you change; it’s going to take time and it’s rarely easy, but recovery is entirely possible.