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Is social anxiety holding you back?

Updated: May 14

If so, stop giving yourself a hard time! Pretty much everyone gets some form of social anxiety, because of the way our brains are wired. You see, as social animals we are drawn to seek the approval of others without even realising it, so your social anxiety is perfectly human.

The good news is, you're not stuck with social anxiety. It can be managed, improved and even overcome by practicing some simple techniques.

Heres 5 quick tips to help ease social anxiety:

  1.  Redirect your attention. When you start feeling anxious in social situations, redirect your focus away from yourself and onto others around you. Ask questions, listen actively, show genuine interest in them. This works on two levels - it reduces self-consciousness which helps with anxiety but it also helps others to feel at ease.

  2. Use breathing techniques. Conscious breathing is an effective way to trigger your brain to release calming chemicals. Try the 4-7-8 technique: inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds. Deep breathing helps distract from anxious thoughts and induces relaxation.

  3. Challenge negative thoughts. Social anxiety often involves negative thought patterns and catastrophising, quickly leading to overwhelm. Question irrational thoughts like "I'll embarrass myself" or "Everyone is judging me." Replace them with more positive, intentional words like "i'm doing my best" and "I'm listening to new perspectives".

  4. Practice your intro. Prepare and memorise a 20 - 30 second speech about yourself, so that if you feel nervous you have a rehearsed introduction to use. It will help you feel more confident, knowing that you can introduce yourself with your memorised speech. End it with a question about the other person to encourage conversation.

  5. Be compassionate with yourself! Don't be overly critical of your social anxiety. Show yourself the same kindness and understanding you would a friend struggling with it. Maintain a positive attitude and find humour in awkward moments if you can.

Finally, as with anything, theres no substitute for practice. Try these skills with friends, family, mentors, tutors, partners, the staff at the coffee place - whoever! The more you practice these skills the more familiar it will be come and the easier it will feel.

Happy practicing!


Therapeutic Coach

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