1) Always have an escape route.
As dramatic as it may seem, many of my clients benefit from knowing they can leave a social commitment when and if they need to at any time. So what this may mean is choosing to drive instead of carpooling with a friend who may want to stay later than you, having Uber or Lyft loaded on your phone, having your own hotel room at the conference if you need to get away. Whatever it looks like, building a proverbial “escape route” into your plans can paradoxically decrease social anxiety that may be more heightened if you feel trapped at the event.
2) Burn off adrenaline in advance.
Before a social situation that causes you stress, try and release as much stress and adrenaline from your body as possible. Squeeze in a good sweaty workout, make love to your partner, go on a marathon housecleaning session and tire yourself out. However you choose to do this, by metabolizing stress in advance of an anxiety-producing social situation, you can help your nervous system remain more regulated when you get there if you burn off an excess of adrenaline that may be in your body.
3) Stay present and challenge your thoughts.
Notice when and if you start to scare yourself with your thinking and then use cognitive tricks like finding five reasons why your scary thought isn’t true, or listing three alternative perspectives to the thought that is causing you anxiety. By staying present with your thoughts, with your body, by noticing what’s happening for your physiologically and psychologically, and then challenging and untwisting any scary thoughts that arise, you can greatly help calm your nervous system.
4) Ask questions of others to distract from your own anxiety and pre-occupying thoughts.
Similar to using thought-challenging exercises to reduce your scary, anxious thoughts, an excellent coping tool in social situations is to distract yourself from your own anxiety by asking questions of others and really becoming genuinely interested in them and their stories. When you can put your attention outside of yourself and be deeply curious about another person, you can support yourself in staying present and reducing the amount of energy you give to your anxious thoughts.
5) Remind yourself of all the times you have been successful in social situations.
Finally, in advance of social situations that are causing you anxiety, remember and recall all the other times you felt afraid of going to a social situation and yet had an okay if not good time. Count and tally up the evidence of how you’ve been able to cope and manage with your social anxiety before and remind yourself that you’re capable of doing it again. Did you find these tips helpful? Do you have a tip or trick that’s helped you manage your social anxiety in the past? Leave a message in the comments below so our readers can benefit from your wisdom.
Did you find any of these tips useful? Do you have a tip that’s been effective for you in the past? Leave a message in the comments below so our blog readers can benefit from your wisdom.