Beating Social Anxiety: 5 Life Hacks That Will Help You
It’s not uncommon for us to experience an uncomfortable mindset because of a social situation we strap ourselves to.
Common triggers for social anxieties could be asking someone on a date, being called on in class, public speaking, answering the phone, or meeting new people. (And in some cases forced to disarmed a bomb in front of a watching crowd.) It’s what holds us back from many opportunities and prevents us from acquiring new friendships.
When we become aware of the small things that makes us weird such as our voice, body, or personality. we become uncomfortable with ourselves and question how others see us.
We know the key to beating social anxiety is accepting ourselves and being comfortable with the way we are. But thinking that way and applying it are two different books. There’s many reasons we develop a case of social anxiety disorder.
The main two are dealing with the fear of other people stares, and their negative feedback.
Before listing the 5 life hacks, let me give you a reason why we shouldn’t take the judgment of others so seriously.
Suppose I decided to dance in public with no music and let’s say I even sung in the process. What I’m doing is breaking out of a social norm, where strangers would not only watch me, but judge me as well. The first thoughts that’ll cross their mind will either be:
“Who is that strange man dancing and singing?”
“Looks like that person is having a good time.”
“I wonder if that person is on drugs…or maybe his friends dared him to do this.”
“That looks fun. I want to be able to do that. He has so much confidence.”
These are the random thoughts that crosses a person’s mind after watching me dance in public. Some might even give words of encouragement or laugh depending on how I danced.
Some might even try to join me, wishing to be part of the energy I’m releasing. But do you know what happens next after the average person who saw me dance continued walking away?
Within 3 – 5 minutes, their minds transgress to other matters that come across their life, eventually forgetting about me. People prime focus isn’t to pay attention to you or me. People will only pay attention to us for a few seconds before passing their thoughts and judgments to other forces. They forget about us and go their way.
A problem many of us have is sometimes believing the world revolves around us. When we spend so much time with ourselves, it’s only natural to think that way. And in the process, we assume everything someone does is in direct relation to us.
So don’t stress about other people opinions because those will quickly fade. If you’re struggling with breaking that mindset, here are 5 life hacks to help you beat social anxiety:
1. Learn to control your breathing pattern
Breathing isn’t a difficult thing to do. Everyone alive can do that. But the goal is learning how to breathe correctly. Before approaching a situation that raises your anxieties, use a technique known as abdominal breathing because it increases your energy and decreases your stress levels.
When we allow our hearts to beat rapidly and blood to flow uncontrollably, we become anxious and nervous. So learn to take deep inhales to bring more oxygen into your body and relax in any situation you place yourself in.
A common practice me and my friends used to apply before speaking to females was doing twenty pushups to relax our minds.
Breathing correctly mentally and physically focuses our attention in the moment. As for those who aren’t familiar with abdominal breathing, it’s placing one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
From there, you take a repetition of deep breaths until you feel calm and soothe. If you would like to see an example on performing it, here’s a video to demonstrate:
2. Imagine Strangers as your friends
A golden rule I was taught was to not be intimidated by strangers. Whether you’re approaching someone at a bar, library, or in public, it’s best to picture them as a friend already.
Friends are people we’re comfortable with and don’t have to place a mask on to prevent awkwardness. Rather than trying to be the person a stranger wants us to be, act natural and conversational topics will be much easier.
A fear I used to have before approaching others was how to behave when I spoke to them. However, by pretending I already knew someone quite well, I no longer felt like it was a job interview, but a real communication session.
Common sense will prevent me from saying anything too personal or weird that might scare a stranger away. All I’m doing is allowing myself to freely express my ideas about anything that’s topic related.
This technique lowers your stress and increases your comfort with another person. People may not be consciously aware, but the way we present ourselves, our voice, and our facial expressions immediately tell someone to either back away from us or not.
It isn’t hard to notice when someone isn’t comfortable with us. So get rid of that awkwardness by pretending that lucky stranger is your BFF.
3. Reflect on the situation and outcome
One of the main reasons for social anxiety is being unaware of the outcome. We think of the worst and run away, planning to seclude ourselves from society. But before taking that route, we have to really ask ourselves what’s the “worst thing that could possibly come from this.”
To give an example, if I wanted to ask someone on a date, the first thought that comes to mind is that she’s going to say, “No.” Those thoughts then heighten, and I’ll end up believing not only will she say, “NO.” but in a mean way as well.
The next thing she’ll do is laugh at me. This will cause a crowd of bystanders to join in, already aware of the situation and mock me, destroying my self-esteem for future dates.
It’s not difficult to exaggerate our imaginations when dealing with the worst. So logically ask yourself, “What is the worst possible outcome for my actions?”
Don’t place weird events in your head or a distress in your soul. Once you redefine the possible outcomes, simply go through with it and if it works out, great, but if it doesn’t, it’s still great because this reinforces your thoughts of the worst actually happening.
4. Conduct a “show and tell“
Another fear that causes someone to back away from another human is questioning what to talk about. They question the other person’s interest and calculate how long they could keep the conversation going before it reaches a dead end. We’re not going to have topics ranging in our head like Google does with our search results.
When we’re attempting to connect with someone, we’re searching for values that matter to them and ways to connect to their heart and soul. So if it helps, bring in a third party to help. It could be an app on your phone, pictures, a magazine, or a book that you’re reading.
Whatever it is, display what you have to offer and let them marvel at it. With material objects acting as the common ground, it takes a lot of pressure away from you. I’ve used this technique more times than I could keep up with, showing people memes I came across. They’re funny and open up more common grounds to talk about.
5. Volunteer or attend a Social Community
When we’re children, the odds of us dealing with social anxiety came very rarely. When we’re packed with over a dozen people our age, it’s easy to find common grounds with someone. It helps us when we’re part of a community of shared interests.
It’s only when we become adults and graduate from college when life becomes difficult at making friends outside of work. So find local volunteer events in your neighborhood and meet new people. I remember attending a park volunteer session and meeting several nice people who were happy to speak to me.
If you’re not into the idea of volunteering, find a church, country club, community college, or book club. Join something where other people share your interest and that way, you already have a common ground to jump on.
In final thoughts….
While it’s a dream to conquer social anxiety within a day, week, or month, this is an exercise won through baby steps. We learn through mini victories that we do have the ability to speak to other people, and it defeats our social fears.
By avoiding situations that places us outside our comfort zone, it prevents us from approaching ways to beating social anxiety. If you desire change, the important concepts to remember are holding patience, using the skills you learned from past experiences, and facing your biggest fears.