Social Anxiety: How to Overcome Your Fears

Social anxiety, the fear of being in social situations, is difficult and frustrating to overcome. For the 15 million Americans who deal with social anxiety, there are apps and online help available. Below are step-by-step descriptions of some ways to conquer your fears to improve your social life and relationships.

Before you face social situations, it helps to learn ways calm and soothe yourself. Mindful meditation is particularly useful with anxiety. The point of mindfulness meditation is to train your brain to stay in the present moment. When someone is living in the moment, worries about the past and present disappear. There are several apps that can help you practice mindful breathing and meditation. While there are free apps available, some of the most highly rated ones aren’t too expensive (under $5).

Another useful tip is to reach out for social support online. People coping with social phobias can use technology to connect with others and conquer their fears. Facebook has groups organized by and for people with social anxiety, social phobia, panic disorder, and other anxiety disorders. Most of these groups are closed to protect the privacy of their members. Other social networks, such as anxiety groups on Reddit, are anonymous.

As you use meditation and online support, try to cultivate a small circle of people or even one person to help you conquer your fears. Social anxiety is felt in isolation, but working with others provides a feasible solution. People with social fears and phobias may have few friends to rely on, but an online supporter can also be an ally. Also, therapists and other mental health professionals can help by listening, setting goals, and giving practical advice. Reaching out to a trusted person is a good step to becoming more social.

Unfortunately, when you reach out for help, you don’t always get the reaction you want. Sometimes people don’t understand social anxiety and may make you feel worse. Social fears and phobias are a real thing that lots of people have. You may be surprised to find out that many people you know have some sort of fear or nervousness around social situations. Remember that social fears and phobias grow through avoidance. You make the fear stronger when you avoid people. Try to take baby steps to face those fears. Small steps work if practiced regularly; don’t let setbacks minimize your personal growth. Celebrate every small success, and then set another reachable goal.

Be sure to tell your supporters in real life and online about your progress, and they will cheer each win. Additionally, you can help others by being a role model. By sharing your story and struggle, you can help other people break through the fear and isolation of social anxiety.