Social anxiety is a psychological medical condition that takes the form of a phobia of or discomfort in certain social situations. Social anxiety is a spectrum; some individuals who suffer from it have such severe fear of social situations that they rarely leave their house, while others simply experience minor nervousness or embarrassment when interacting with strangers or peers.
However, all forms of social anxiety can be debilitating to social relationships, school or work performance, and other important elements of a healthy and balanced daily life. Fortunately, there are many ways to get rid of social anxiety quickly and effectively in order to progress with your life with increased confidence and happiness.
1. Accept the Fear
One of the most effective steps toward eliminating social anxiety quickly is accepting your social fear for what it is. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of social anxiety, whether your anxiety is extremely severe or somewhat less impactful on your day-to-day life, it’s important to accept it rather than try to ignore it in the hopes that it will go away. Social anxiety is a valid psychological condition, and helping yourself work through it is a courageous and positive step in the direction toward health and happiness.
2. Try Mirror Talk
This might seem strange, but talking to yourself and making faces in the mirror can do wonders to help you overcome your social anxiety. Every day when you wake up in the morning, make it a point to stand in front of your bathroom mirror, look at yourself head-on, and just talk. Ask yourself questions, answer them, tell yourself about your plans or your day, and make sure to smile. Mirror talk will help you practice social situations and feel more natural and at ease when they come about in your real life.
3. Focus on the Present
When you’re feeling anxious in a social situation, force yourself to focus on the present moment. Focus on what the person you’re interacting with is saying rather than how they might be judging you. Listen to the conversation around you and contribute without worrying about what their responses might be like. Focusing on what is happening around you in the current moment rather than what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future can help you feel more calm in any social situation.
4. Pay Attention to your Surroundings
A great way to calm yourself down if you are feeling anxious or panicky in a social situation is to pay attention to your current surroundings. Pick out three things you can sense in the environment around you; things you hear, things you see, things you smell, etc. This exercise can help you draw yourself out of the worries and anxiety in your head and focus on the external situation around you, which can help you feel less panicked and more at ease when interacting with others.
5. Take a Genuine Interest in Others
Have you ever wished that the person you’re talking to would ask more questions about you, make additional comments on what you’re saying, smile more, etc.? The next time you’re in a social situation, remember these wishes and try to incorporate them into your own communication skills. By asking questions and making an effort to engage yourself in the conversation and appear interested, you can generate genuine interest in the other person and what they’re saying, which can help you feel calmer and less socially anxious.
6. Prepare your Words
In order to help eliminate your worries about what you’re going to say when you’re in a social situation, prepare what you might say when you’re alone. Keep a journal and practice making lists of questions to ask, comments to make, and conversation topics to introduce the next time you’re feeling anxious and speechless when you’re interacting with someone. This doesn’t mean you need to act like your’e speaking from a script when you’re talking to someone. Making these lists of possible things to say is just an exercise to help you feel more prepared and comfortable when you’re in a social situation.
7. Work toward a Positive Outcome
When you enter into a social situation you feel anxious about, think about what you want to get out of the situation. If you’re making a presentation at work, perhaps you are hoping for a promotion. If you’re making conversation with a colleague or barista at the coffee shop, maybe you’re hoping for a new friendship or a romantic interest. If you consider the goal of the social interaction you’re participating in, you will feel more purposeful and like you’re accomplishing something during the interaction, which can help you feel less anxious.
8. Smile at Anyone and Everyone
Smiling is an extremely simple thing to do that can help you eliminate your social anxiety and help you feel more natural and confident when interacting with other people. When you’re at work, school, the grocery store, or just out on the street, make it a point to smile at as many people as possible, no matter if you know them or not. Some people won’t smile back, and that’s okay, but other people will. You can feel happier knowing that you’re accomplishing positive social interactions with strangers, even if they just consist of an exchange of smiles, and this can help increase your confidence in other social situations in the future as well.
9. Play out your Worries
Sometimes, it can be helpful to consider the worst that could happen in a specific social situation. If you’re nervous or frightened about a certain social interaction, allow yourself to play out the worst thing that could happen if the situation goes badly. By considering the possible negative outcomes, you can help yourself put your worries into a more rational perspective and feel less anxious about the social situation.
10. Practice on Family
Practice your social and communication skills around those you feel comfortable around, such as your close family members or friends. When you talk to them, imagine that they are a stranger or acquaintance you don’t feel natural with or around whom you would feel anxiety. By doing this, you can help reduce your social anxiety and feel more at ease in less comfortable situations.
Other Useful Tips
The most important thing to remember when trying to overcome social anxiety is that you should never try to be someone you’re not. If you’re introverted, introspective, quiet, or shy, that’s okay. Although you can use the tips in this article to help you get rid of social anxiety quickly, you should not be fake in social interactions. Let your true self shine through, even if that means being quieter or going out less.