Katy Morin

What to Do When You Are Paralyzed by Social Anxiety

If you feel like your whole body is shaking when you go to talk to somebody, or if the mere thought of being social makes you want to hide under a rock and never come out, you may have social anxiety. 

Here's a scenario that happens a lot. You're at a party and you're having trouble talking to other people because there are so many of them around you and besides, you don't know what to talk about. What can we do in this situation? What are some things that might help us be less anxious or more relaxed in these situations? The first thing that comes to mind is performing some kind of breathing exercise before you leave your house. You could sit down, look up at the ceiling, put your hands on your stomach and take a deep breath in, hold it for about 5 seconds and slowly let it out through your mouth. Then you do it again.

This is a simple mindfulness exercise. You're just taking your mind off the fact that there are more people around you and just focusing on something that is very simple, like counting 10 seconds. Just try to relax and let your mind go blank for a little bit until you feel yourself starting to go back to the situation you were in before you started to fill your mind with this kind of stuff.

Another thing you could do is try to force a smile on your face. This will help you to talk more easily as well and it might just be enough to stop you from shaking and feeling nervous all the time.

Another thing you could do is try to take deep breaths, but this time instead of just holding your breath in your nose like before, take them as if you're breathing through your stomach. Try to focus on the feeling of that air going into your body and leave it there for 5 seconds before letting it out again for a second. Repeat this about 10 times until you feel that you can start talking without having to look around at everyone all the time because of how nervous that makes you feel.

Don't force it
But what are some things that you should never do? The first thing you should never do is just be super pushy about trying to talk with someone. Don't force yourself on them and don't annoy them either. If they don't want to talk, they probably won't and most likely, they will just ignore you or tell you that they don't have time.

Don't leave
The second thing you should never do is maybe get up and leave the situation. You shouldn't just leave because not only is this going to make you feel really bad about yourself, but also it's not the best way to start a conversation. Instead, ask those around you what they think they might like to talk about. But if none of them seem interesting enough, then why not just try asking them how they're doing and what their favorite movie was recently. Once again, don't be afraid to ask questions, people usually like that.

Look around you
A cool way of dealing with these situations is to look out into things around you and focus solely on them. Look at the people talking around you, the colors of the clothes they are wearing, maybe something in their hands or just their hair. When you do this, it takes your mind off what's going on in your own body and it helps you to relax a bit more. Keep thinking about this thing for a few moments and if it doesn't work out too well, try switching it up once in a while by looking at something else.

Use a Mantra
Another thing that might work better for some people is to talk to yourself in your head. Just repeating the same sentence over and over like it's a mantra might help you feel calmer and more comfortable.

These are some of the simple things that you can do to help you feel less nervous in these situations. You could try them all out and see which one is the best for you, but remember, please don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
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