What helps social anxiety?

Everyone gets nervous in certain social situations. But if you have a social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia), everyday events can be extra challenging. You might feel more self-conscious and scared than other people do in social interactions. But don’t let fear keep you from living life to the fullest. Try these tips to help you feel better and get through the day.

1. Control Your breathing

Anxiety can cause changes in your body that make you uncomfortable. For example, your breathing might get fast and shallow. This can make you even more anxious. You might feel tense, dizzy, or suffocated.

Certain techniques can help you slow your breathing and manage other anxiety symptoms. Try these steps:

  • Sit down in a comfortable position with your back straight.

  • Relax your shoulders.

  • Put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.

  • Breathe in slowly through your nose for 4 seconds. The hand that’s on your belly will rise and the one on your chest shouldn’t move much.

  • Hold your breath in for 2 seconds and then slowly let it out through your mouth for 6 seconds.

  • Repeat this several times until you feel relaxed.

2. Try exercise or progressive muscle relaxation

Research shows that certain physical activities like jogging can help lower your anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation can help, too. This means flexing and releasing groups of muscles in your body and keeping your attention on the feeling of the release.

  1. Yoga can also help you calm down.

  2. Certain types involve deep breathing, so they can help lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

  3. Studies show that doing yoga for a few months can help lower overall anxiety. In fact, just one class may improve mood and anxiety.

3. Prepare

Plan ahead for social situations that make you nervous can help you feel more confident. You might feel the urge to avoid some situations because they make you anxious. Instead, try to prepare for what’s to come.

For example, if you’re going on a first date and you’re scared you’ll have nothing in common, try reading magazines and newspapers to find a few topics to talk about. If going to a party or work function triggers symptoms, do some relaxation or breathing exercises to help you calm down before you leave the house.

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