Can You Overcome Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety can have a major impact on your life. Depending on the severity of your anxiety, it may prevent you from socializing with friends or pursuing new opportunities. Can you overcome social anxiety and stop these negative effects? In most cases you can, though it may take multiple attempts to find the approach that works for you.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is no one-size-fits-all way to tackle social anxiety. If one attempt doesn’t provide results, some other method of overcoming social anxiety may work better. As difficult as social anxiety is, with perseverance, you can still come out on top.

Therapy Options

One of the primary methods used to overcome social anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. This therapy looks at not only the actions you take but also the thoughts associated with those actions. It’s effective against social anxiety because it helps you isolate your fears and avoidances, letting you approach them from a more logical angle and find ways to deal with each issue individually. The therapy may help you challenge your negative reactions to social situations and over time, should help you to overcome the hurdles in your life caused by social anxiety.

A Self-Help Approach

Therapy and routines can go a long way toward overcoming social anxiety. In some cases, medication is also an option. Don’t overlook the benefits of self-help books, apps, and videos, however. While these should be seen as more of a supplement to other methods than a primary form of dealing with social anxiety, even a little help is better than nothing. You may learn valuable techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety from self-help resources and they have the benefit of giving you a source you can go back to again and again when it’s most convenient for you.

Exposure Hierarchies

You may hear this referred to as an “exposure ladder” or a “fear hierarchy.” Regardless of the name, however, this tool may help you overcome some of the worst stresses brought on by social anxiety. Look at your day and pick out the 5 to 10 biggest potential triggers that you’ll face. Write each down, then rate each with a score between 0 (indicating that it is unlikely to cause any anxiety) to 100 (indicating that it is almost certain to cause severe anxiety.) Reorder the list from lowest score to greatest, giving you an order in which you can gradually build up to the bigger causes of stress and anxiety while still getting things done. As you check some items off of your list you’ll likely find more confidence to tackle the bigger triggers, as well.

Break Down Your Day

Another way to overcome the social anxiety you face each day is to break down your day into a series of achievable milestones. Each morning, create a list of your goals for the day. From there you can break each goal down into a series of smaller accomplishments, making the goals less daunting and reducing your anxiety about each in the process.

Practice Makes Perfect

If your social anxiety seems overwhelming in certain situations, try practicing or acting out those situations to make them seem more commonplace. The more you practice a potentially anxiety-triggering event, the more used to the event you will feel and the less likely it will be to trigger a severe anxiety reaction. You can also practice ways to cope with the anxiety such as deep breathing or other calming exercises; this will help you associate the calming exercise with the event, making it more effective if your anxiety does get triggered.

There are a lot of things that can trigger social anxiety, and it may take a combination of techniques to face them all. Even if you still feel some anxiety, it’s important that you focus on your victories rather than the moments where anxiety seems to take over. Even when it seems like an uphill battle, it’s still one that you can win with time.

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