Returning to campus after the pandemic has come with its challenges, and for many of us, diving back into social environments after so many months of isolation has been one of them. For the majority of students, introverts and non-introverts alike, social anxiety has been a challenging reality to grapple with and I’m here to assure you that there are ways to overcome this. As someone who battled social anxiety throughout grade school and spent hours researching and asking others for advice in order to overcome this, I’ve compiled a list of tips that have worked wonders in helping me cultivate a healthy social life that you can also use when you are feeling socially anxious.
Be available for social opportunities
It takes practice and constant exposure to social environments in order to observe and adapt to a range of human interactions. Making yourself available to group hangouts, club events and volunteering opportunities allow you to experience meeting a wide range of people with different personalities that will help you reflect on your own social temperature. You cannot meet anyone if you stay at home all day, but once you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you will realize you have a lot more in common with people than you once thought. Socializing with like-minded people will eventually become effortless and can help you quickly expand your social circle!
Shift your mindset
Reframing your thoughts and acknowledging an alternate view of your fears will help snap you back into reality and improve your mood. I like to ask myself questions of whether or not my fears are realistic, which helps me gain a better understanding of my situation. Our fears of judgment and embarrassment are often irrational and blown out of proportion, and even if something embarrassing does occur, understand that one instance doesn’t define you and people are likely to forget. Remove yourself from wanting to be liked by everyone and shift your focus on whether you even like them. This will take the pressure off of acting and saying everything perfectly and put you in more control of your emotions.
Take deep breaths
In moments when you find yourself anxious and unable to speak, remove yourself from the situation to ground yourself. Take a moment to relax your body and lower your heart rate by taking deep inhalations and exhalations until you are ready to move into the social environment again. Re-centering yourself through breathing exercises is a great way to physically and mentally bounce back into social environments. Once we calm ourselves down and realize that we are okay, we are more likely to think clearly and act as our true selves.
Use power poses
Looking the part is part of acting the part. Manifest your confidence through having good posture and keeping your head held high when you walk into a room. The power pose will instantly boost your self-esteem and help you feel more comfortable speaking and interacting with people. Additionally, an improved posture will elevate people’s respect for you as it shows that you are confident, attentive and self-assured. As you improve your posture, visualize yourself as the most confident person you know and emulate that persona.
Don’t think. Just say it.
Remember when you were five and just did and said whatever you wanted without a care in the world? Bring that mindset back. Contrary to popular belief of thinking before you speak, I recommend saying whatever your heart desires before your head has the chance to self-deprecate whatever your mind wants to say. As long as you use common sense and don’t hurt or offend other people with your words, this tip is key in expressing your true self. Your true colors will shine when you break down that barrier of self-doubt to say what you truly want to say.
Hopefully, these tips in managing social anxiety relieve some anxiety and give you some helpful pointers for navigating new social settings this school year. Remember that you are not alone, and you will get better with practice. Next time you go out, remind yourself of some of these tips, take some deep breaths and speak as your truest, most authentic self!