Do you get nervous when styling a client's hair? Does your heart race, and do you feel you can’t breathe? If so, you’re not alone.
Social anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders globally, and it affects millions of people. But there are things you can do to cope with social anxiety, like a pro.
Here are seven tips that will help make social situations less daunting and more manageable:
1. Educate yourself about social anxiety and what it means for you. One of the best things you can do is educate yourself about social anxiety and its effects. It will help you understand your condition and know that you’re not alone.
● Read books or articles about social anxiety. Valuable anxiety books include “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook“ by Edmund J. Bourne and “The Worry Cure“ by Robert L. Leahy. These books will provide you with detailed insight into social anxiety and ways to manage it.
● Attend a support group. It is a great way to meet other people dealing with the same condition as you. It's helpful to share your experiences and learn from others.
● Speak to a therapist. A therapist can help you understand social anxiety and provide you with practical coping tools to reduce the symptoms associated with social fears.
● Watch videos about social anxiety on websites like YouTube or TED Talks. There are plenty of videos available on these platforms to provide information.
2. Identify your triggers and avoid them as much as possible. These are the things that make your symptoms worse. Identifying your triggers can help you avoid them in the future. Some common triggers include:
● Meeting new people. Meeting new people is something you can’t avoid. Try to ease into meeting people by starting with one person at a time.
● Being in large groups. If being in large groups triggers your social anxiety, try attending smaller gatherings or events. This way, you can ease into more extensive group settings.
● Public speaking. To reduce anxiety, practice your speech ahead of time, visualize yourself giving the speech with no anxiety, and use breathing exercises to help relax your body and mind.
● You might not need to avoid triggers, but you can prepare in advance for them if you are aware of them.
3. Prepare for social situations by rehearsing what you’ll say ahead of time. If you have an idea of what you’re going to say, this will help ease your anxiety and make the situation less stressful.
4. Take deep breaths and relax your muscles when you feel anxious. This will help ease some of the physical symptoms associated with social anxiety. Here are some helpful breathing exercises:
● Belly breathing. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Breathe in through your nose, letting your stomach expand. Breathe out through your mouth, allowing your stomach to fall.
● Pursed lip breathing. Breathe slowly through your nose, counting to four. Breathe out slowly through pursed lips, counting to eight.
● Equal breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, then breathe out for a count of four. Doing these exercises will help you focus on breathing and relax your body.
5. Avoid alcohol and caffeine before social events, as they can worsen symptoms. Alcohol and caffeine are stimulants that can increase anxiety. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
6. Make time for yourself after social gatherings to reflect on how they went. This will help you process your thoughts and feelings about the event. Some ideas for self-care after a social event include:
● Take a hot bath, and you will feel relaxed. Use warm water and add calming essential oils such as lavender or chamomile oil to reduce anxiety symptoms. Play some soothing music.
● Write in a journal about your experience. This will help you process your thoughts and feelings. In addition, writing helps to release emotions you may be feeling.
● Take a walk in nature. Being in nature has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety.
7. See a therapist. If you find that your social anxiety affects your quality of life, you may want to seek help from a therapist. A therapist can help you understand and manage your stress.
● The benefits of therapy include learning about your anxiety and how to manage it, plus identifying and changing negative thinking patterns.
● Practicing exposure therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to the situations that trigger your anxiety. Exposure therapy is a proven treatment for social anxiety.
● You learn relaxation and coping techniques, such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation. Deep breathing is one of the most effective anxiety-reducing techniques.
● If you think you might benefit from seeing a therapist, consider an appointment with one specializing in treating anxiety disorders.
Social anxiety can be challenging to cope with, but there are ways to make it easier. Educating yourself about your condition and preparing for social situations can help you feel more confident and in control.
Avoiding triggers and practicing relaxation techniques can also help reduce symptoms. Finally, taking some time for yourself after social events to reflect on how they went can help you process your thoughts and feelings. You can cope with social anxiety like a pro by following these tips!