This post was written by a guest author.
Social anxiety can be a real struggle for those who suffer from it. While it is now more widely understood and no longer dismissed as simply ‘shyness’, it can be hard to know how to deal with social situations and mingle with those who seem to effortlessly glide around the room, making small talk with everyone. The good news is that even though being a social butterfly may not come naturally to you, you can still learn to manage your anxiety and enjoy all types of social gatherings, from after-work drinks to weddings. Here are 3 great ways to manage social anxiety.
3 Great Ways to Manage Social Anxiety
Have an escape plan
This one is nowhere near as dramatic as it sounds. There’s no need to formulate a detailed plan about how to climb out of the bathroom window or anything like that. However, knowing that you can leave if you feel uncomfortable can make it much easier to commit to a social event. An easy way to do this is to have a believable excuse ready, such as needing to go to bed early because you have a gym class in the morning. You might well end up having a great time and staying right until the end, but having an escape plan takes away a lot of the pressure of committing to a social engagement.
Be honest about how you’re feeling
One of the biggest issues for people with social anxiety is that they can often come across as stuck-up or snobby because they don’t speak up in social situations. Instead of letting people misjudge you, you can always try being honest about your anxiety, letting them know that you are feeling nervous and awkward. People are often surprisingly understanding once they realize what the real issue is and you might just discover that they too are struggling with anxiety and completely empathize with you.
Focus on other people rather than yourself
Social anxiety can mean that you are hyper-focused on yourself in social situations, worrying that you just said something stupid or stressing out about what you’re going to say next. This can actually lead to embarrassing moments where you miss what someone asked you and are unable to answer their question because you were so busy worrying that you stopped listening. If you force yourself to get out of your own head and really concentrate on what other people are talking about, you’ll probably find that you feel a lot less anxious.
Social anxiety can be debilitating and it is a difficult thing to live with, but in many cases, it can be managed so that you can get through social situations and even start to enjoy them. While there is no magic cure, trying the steps above could make it easier for you to start accepting invitations and getting yourself out there!