Social anxiety comes when we want it the least: social events. It acts as a barrier to meeting people and creating true meaningful friendships and relationships.
I didn’t know that I had social anxiety until recently. The symptoms were that I would get very tense and anxious when I talk to strangers or in social events. People feel that they are making me uncomfortable and try to stay away. That has been such a big barrier for me to meet people and make friends. I was suffering because I had this longing, deep desire to be close with people and have very deep and meaningful friendships. Social anxiety effected every area of my life: social, relationships, career – you need to be comfortable with people. I dedicated a few years to learn how to let go of the social anxiety and I am here to share how I was able to succeed. Now I still have a very light form of the anxiety at times but in most cases I learned to calm myself down and be absolutely happy with people in social interactions.
Here are my tips:
1) When you go to a social event, do not drink coffee or anything that makes you even more anxious. Have some relaxing herbal tea. This will make you a bit relaxed.
2) Practice meditation before you go out. If you are not an experienced meditator, find guided 15-20 minute meditation on Youtube to relax and breathe. This will help you get out of your head and really be with the world.
The core of anxiety is fear. Fear that people won’t like us or won’t accept us. Some people have fear that others might put them down or laugh at them. The reality is that fear is just in our heads. We think fearful (negative) thoughts, and the thoughts make us feel. The next tip is to change your thoughts and expectations.
3) Think positive thoughts of how people see you and how people interact with you. Close your eyes and imagine that people love you, feel it, experience it with your whole body. Feel the comfort of being around people. This exercise is very helpful. Do it a few times a day and it alone will transform the way you feel about yourself in social situations.
4) The other thing that works is shifting your focus from you to other people. Put all your focus on people you are talking to. Be interested in them. Feel positive feelings to them. By focusing on them, your fear and self-focus goes away and then there is no anxiety. You will enjoy the interactions more and make good friends.
5) Make sure the your body language is open, this helps you stay present. Take big breaths when you feel anxious, it will help you get grounded. Breathe in Love, breathe out anxiety. When you breathe, not only your body but also your brain relaxes. All the tension goes away.
6) Practice! The more you go out and face your anxiety and fear of social situations, the faster you will learn to control your anxiety and let it go. Practice makes perfect!
Those were my techniques of how I learned to feel open and let go of social anxiety. If I could do it, you can do it too!