Counsellor Sarah Barr has a guide to finding the techniques that work best for you if you struggle with social anxiety.

Anxiety is a part of everyday life for many people. Yet you may be completely unaware, as so many people put in a lot of energy and time in hiding their anxieties.

When you live with anxiety the minute you wake up, it begins to creep in. It creates negative ‘what if’ thoughts and self-doubt leaving you feeling on edge.

Social anxiety manifests her ugly head when you are in social situations that involve meeting and interacting with other people. It is the fear of being judged negatively by other people that feeds the anxiety.

Here are 5 ways that can help you deal with social anxiety;

1. Guided Meditation

Pick a link or app (Head space / Calm) and listen to it. By storing it on your phone you can easily access it before going into a social situation.

2. Mindfulness

Focus on the here and now. Catch the anxious thought that tends to focus on the worst case scenario.

A grounding exercise can help you do this, look around the room and name:

5 things you see

4 things you hear

3 things you can touch

2 things you can smell

1 thing you can taste.

3. Lead the conversation

Planning a few conversation topics can help lower anxious feelings. If you begin to feel uncomfortable or anxious ask the person you are talking to “what do you think?”. Check out my previous article in which I give some conversational tips: Five tips to keep a conversation flowing

4. Breathe

Focus on your breathing. When we feel anxious we tend to speed up our breathing. As a result, we are breathing in less oxygen which can lead to us hyperventilating and having a panic attack. By smiling and nodding while you listen will give you the chance to slow your breathing down.

5. Say a positive affirmation

By repeating a positive mantra or affirmation will help you deal with those anxious feelings. Try telling yourself that “you are good enough” or “everything will be ok”.

At the end of the day spend some time self-reflecting. Through increased self-awareness, you will learn your triggers and what techniques work best for you in managing your social anxiety.

Remember to go easy on yourself, you are doing the best you can.

Take Care ~ Sarah