Oftentimes, we feel like we won’t know what to say or how to act when we are around a big group of people. Being in social situations causes anxiety for most people, so if you experience social anxiety, you aren’t alone.
It is important to mention that some people experience more than just "normal" anxiety. Some people who have a lot of trouble with social situations may be suffering from what is called “Social Anxiety Disorder,” which is an intense fear of social situations. They often experience sweating, racing heart, stomach discomfort, dizziness, and the uncontrollable urge to cry. Their discomfort can lead them to isolate and avoid being involved in any social situations, and may warrant a visit to a doctor for additional help.
If you occasionally experience some anxiety when faced with social gatherings, here are six steps you can try to help you tackle the problem:
- Consider what your thoughts are prior to feeling this anxiety. Oftentimes anxiety is brought on by negative and irrational thoughts we have about ourselves or situations. For example, you might think "I have nothing interesting to say", "People will make fun of me", "I am not good enough", or "People are going to judge me", just to name a few.
- The next step is to then use positive self-talk (visit 101 Positive Things To Say To Myself) during these situations when you begin to feel the anxiety coming on. This may include telling yourself "It is ok to be anxious. I am ok", or "Feeling hot and like I cannot breathe is uncomfortable, but there is no danger". You can also tell yourself "It is ok to relax now because this will pass."
- Pay attention to your breathing. Be careful not to hold your breath.
- Turn your focus from yourself to other people. Focus on listening rather than thinking about what you’re going to say next.
- Be comfortable with the pause. A pause in conversation is not a bad thing. Take a bite of your pizza or a drink of your soda.
- Do not expect perfection from yourself or the event you are attending, instead just stay in the moment and enjoy it. Have fun.
Know that this is not easy to overcome, and it will take time, but hopefully with practice you will find these tips helpful in reducing the anxiety you feel during social gatherings.