Humans are social creatures. We have a strong desire to be admired, appreciated, and approved of by others. As a result, we create complex social structures that determine the individual’s value. Feeling left out from a social group can negatively impact a person and contribute to a variety of mental health-related issues, including one’s self-confidence and sense of belonging. Being excluded from social relationships is perceived as a punishment. Due to the importance of social relations, humans naturally fear rejection and negative evaluation by their peers. Social isolation can lead to emotional and mental distress that impairs our ability to self-regulate.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, social anxiety affects 15 million adults. Social anxiety, defined by the Social Anxiety Institute, “is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people.” Such fears include public speaking and meeting new people as well as feeling insecure about their social environment.
How do you manage social anxiety?
Many people may use a mixture of therapy and prescriptions to manage their symptoms. For the others who don’t have access to mental health care, or who are not interested in prescribed medications, it’s essential to have coping tools and alternative treatments available. Coping skills are pretty vital in daily life. Here are 3 confidence-boosting strategies on how to overcome anxiety:
1. Dive into your awareness:
Focus on what is happening around you, not inside you. When entering an unfamiliar environment where we interact with a total stranger, we tend to be in our heads listening to critical thoughts. STOP IT and be you! Shut down your inner critic and speak affirmations out loud to yourself.
2. Ditch the need to “have it all together”:
Get out of perfectionism mode and let your hair down in social situations. It’s not a performance. Remember to breathe and be present to develop new social connections.
3. Establish reasonable and objective goals:
It’s beneficial to make lists with distinct tasks and deadlines. Having a journal to reflect on your feelings and approaches can help you determine what actually works and what doesn’t. Goals are whatever feels right to you, whether it’s meeting new people at a social event or establishing a comfort level of smiling at least 5 strangers each day.
Many cope with and overcome social anxiety through self-help techniques, books, or meditation. However, those who are critically impacted in their daily life due to high levels of anxiety should always seek professional help.