4 Powerful Tips to Overcome Social Anxiety

Everyone experiences some degree of social anxiety from time to time, and it is normal to feel shy in social gatherings. However, if you experience intense self-consciousness around other people or if fear about an upcoming social gathering consumes your thoughts to the point where it feels impossible to focus on anything else, you likely are experiencing severe Social Anxiety.

Social Anxiety is a very common mental health condition that can feel paralyzing and nerve-wracking. People who struggle with Social Anxiety might feel nauseated and experience intense physical and emotional distress, especially before a social event. All of the side effects of Social Anxiety can interrupt life and make even the most mundane activities extremely challenging. Because Social Anxiety symptoms can be so cumbersome to cope with, those who struggle with Social Anxiety might cancel plans or avoid social gatherings altogether.


Fortunately, all Social Anxiety disorders are completely treatable. With proper support, you can overcome your Social Anxiety so that your fears no longer control you.

 Here are 4 ways to beat Social Anxiety:

1.   Take small steps.
Happy hours, birthday parties, and work functions can seem like massive ordeals when you struggle with Social Anxiety. Try starting small and facilitate less-intimidating interactions to build your inner confidence. Instead of using the self-checkout at the grocery store, wait in line and try talking with the cashier instead. Or try complimenting a classmate or co-workers’ suggestion or idea. These forms of small communication can naturally progress over time into meaningful conversations and connections that can boost your social confidence.


2.   Practice breathing exercises.

There are many tried and true breathing exercises specifically for anxiety, but perhaps none so effective as the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique. Simply breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then slowly breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds.

3.   Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
Anxiety causes muscles to contract particularly around the lungs which can make it physically impossible to breathe normally let alone deeply. When this happens, Progressive Muscle Relaxation can be a wonderful solution. To begin, try tensing a group of muscles such as your hands and arms. Make a fist and contract your biceps then hold the contraction for about five seconds. Then exhale in a sigh as you release the tension. Next, scrunch up your face and shoulders. Hold for around five seconds, and then exhale sharply and let your muscles go limp. Keep repeating this until you have relaxed your entire body.


Tip: Those with anxiety often experience chronic pain, so if you are struggling to overcome chronic pain associated with anxiety, check out our course spotlight on Chronic Pain & the Mind-Body Connection.


4.   Create a pre-socializing grounding ritual.
Come up with a relaxing ritual that you can enjoy and look forward to practicing before a social event. For instance, you could start the sequence of relaxation techniques with a guided meditation like this one, followed by a breathing exercise and a round of muscle relaxation. Then you could listen to your favorite calming music while drinking herbal tea. Note that certain substances such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and even fiber can exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety, so it is best to avoid these substances before any event that could trigger anxiety.

In addition to the above ideas, one of the best methods to overcome Social Anxiety is to develop a support system. A support system can include a combination of professional support, self-help, and when appropriate, medicine. If you struggle with social anxiety, we understand that reaching out and requesting professional counseling can seem daunting. We do not want fear to get in the way of you getting the help and support you deserve. While we are huge advocates of talk therapy, we are an online mental health support platform that provides online short courses on mental health topics for as little as $4.99 a month.

Whether you are just starting your mental health journey or if you have been trying to overcome your social anxiety for a long time, you might benefit from one of our online well-being courses like this one: Mood Disorders - How You Can Overcome Depression & Anxiety


Don’t let anxiety control the memories you do or don’t create. Learn more about how to beat your anxiety without having to talk to anyone and in the comfort of your own home. Sign up for a free 7-day trial and gain access to our collection of online mental health support courses today.

Disclaimer: Head Habitat is transforming mental health education to make it convenient, contactless, affordable, and accessible to all. The platform is not intended to diagnose or treat mental health or other medical conditions. If you feel at any time you need mental health support, please contact your local crisis center.