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4 Things to do to Conquer Social Anxiety Now

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Four things someone can do right now to help their social anxiety:

  1. Practice deep breathing: When feeling anxious, deep breathing exercises can be helpful in calming down the body's physiological responses to stress. Take a deep breath in through the nose, hold it for a few seconds, and then slowly exhale through the mouth.

  2. Challenge negative thoughts: Social anxiety can be fueled by negative thoughts, such as assuming that others are judging or criticizing you. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if there is evidence to support them and if they are based on reality. Replace negative thoughts with more positive and realistic ones.

  3. Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would a friend. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes and experiences anxiety from time to time. Rather than criticizing yourself, offer yourself words of encouragement and reassurance.

  4. Gradually expose yourself to feared situations: This is known as exposure therapy and involves gradually facing feared situations in a safe and controlled manner. Start by exposing yourself to mildly anxiety-provoking situations and gradually work your way up to more challenging situations over time. This can help you build confidence and overcome your social anxiety.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing exercises can be an effective way to manage social anxiety symptoms, as they help to regulate the body's physiological responses to stress. When experiencing social anxiety, individuals may feel a range of physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can trigger feelings of panic and make it difficult to feel calm and centered in social situations.

Deep breathing exercises work by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to counteract the body's fight-or-flight response. When practicing deep breathing, individuals take slow, deep breaths in through the nose and exhale slowly through the mouth. This helps to slow down the heart rate, reduce muscle tension, and increase feelings of relaxation and calmness.

One effective deep breathing exercise for managing social anxiety is the 4-7-8 breathing technique. This technique involves inhaling for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of seven, and exhaling for a count of eight. This exercise can be repeated several times to help reduce feelings of anxiety and promote a sense of calm.

In addition to deep breathing exercises, other relaxation techniques such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization can also be helpful in managing social anxiety symptoms. These techniques can be practiced regularly to help build resilience and reduce the impact of social anxiety on daily life.

Negative Thoughts

Challenging negative thoughts is an important component of cognitive-behavioral therapy, a type of therapy that has been found to be effective in treating social anxiety disorder. Individuals with social anxiety disorder may experience a range of negative thoughts such as "I'm going to embarrass myself," "People are going to judge me," or "I'm not good enough." These thoughts can be so automatic and ingrained that individuals may not even be aware of them.

Challenging negative thoughts involves questioning the accuracy and validity of these thoughts, and replacing them with more positive and realistic thoughts. This can help to reduce the intensity of anxiety and change unhelpful patterns of thinking. Some common techniques for challenging negative thoughts include examining the evidence for and against the thought, looking for alternative explanations, and considering the worst-case scenario.

For example, if someone is worried about giving a presentation at work, they may think "I'm going to mess up and everyone is going to think I'm incompetent." They can challenge this thought by asking themselves "What evidence do I have that supports this thought? Have I ever given a successful presentation before?" They can also consider the worst-case scenario by asking "What's the worst that could happen? Would it really be that bad?"

It's important to note that challenging negative thoughts is not about denying or suppressing anxiety, but rather changing the way we respond to it. By replacing negative thoughts with more realistic and positive ones, individuals can build confidence and resilience in social situations.

Self Compassion

Self-compassion involves treating oneself with the same kindness, concern, and support that one would offer to a good friend. When experiencing social anxiety, individuals may be prone to negative self-talk and self-criticism, which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem.

Practicing self-compassion involves recognizing that everyone makes mistakes and experiences anxiety from time to time, and that this is a normal part of the human experience. Rather than criticizing oneself for perceived shortcomings or failures, self-compassion involves offering oneself words of encouragement and reassurance, such as "It's okay to make mistakes, I'm doing the best I can" or "I'm worthy of love and acceptance, just as I am."

Self-compassion has been shown to be an effective strategy for managing anxiety and improving mental health outcomes. It can help to reduce the impact of negative self-talk, increase feelings of self-worth and self-acceptance, and promote a sense of emotional well-being.

To practice self-compassion, individuals can try cultivating a self-compassionate mindset by offering themselves words of kindness and understanding when facing difficult situations. They can also try to be mindful of their self-talk, and replace critical or negative self-talk with more compassionate and positive self-talk. Additionally, self-care practices such as getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food can also help to promote feelings of self-compassion and well-being.

It's important to note that self-compassion is not about being self-indulgent or avoiding responsibility for one's actions. Rather, it's about treating oneself with the same care and respect that one would offer to a friend, and acknowledging that everyone has strengths and weaknesses.


Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that involves gradually exposing individuals to feared situations or stimuli in a safe and controlled manner. This technique has been found to be effective in treating social anxiety disorder, as it helps individuals to build confidence, reduce anxiety, and develop coping skills.

Exposure therapy works by gradually exposing individuals to feared situations, starting with less anxiety-provoking situations and gradually progressing to more challenging situations. For example, if someone is afraid of public speaking, exposure therapy may begin by having them speak to a small group of people, and gradually work up to larger and more formal presentations.

Exposure therapy is based on the principle of habituation, which means that as individuals are exposed to feared situations repeatedly, their anxiety response decreases over time. This allows individuals to build confidence and learn coping strategies to manage their anxiety.

In addition to traditional exposure therapy, virtual reality exposure therapy has also been found to be effective in treating social anxiety disorder. Virtual reality exposure therapy involves using a computer-generated simulation to expose individuals to feared situations, such as public speaking or socializing in a crowded room.

It's important to note that exposure therapy should always be conducted with the guidance and support of a mental health professional. This ensures that the exposure is done in a safe and controlled manner, and that individuals receive appropriate support and coping strategies to manage their anxiety.

Social anxiety can be a very difficult experience, and it's understandable that individuals who suffer from this condition may feel overwhelmed, scared, and unsure of how to cope. However, it's important to know that there is hope and support available for those who are struggling with social anxiety.

If you are struggling with social anxiety, please know that you are not alone. Many people experience this condition, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Seeking help and support from a mental health professional can be an important first step in managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.

Remember, it's okay to take things one step at a time. Managing social anxiety can be a process, and it's important to be patient and kind to yourself along the way. By practicing self-compassion, challenging negative thoughts, and gradually exposing yourself to feared situations, you can build confidence and resilience in social situations.

It's important to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Make sure to get enough rest, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. With the right support and resources, it's possible to overcome the challenges of social anxiety and live a fulfilling and meaningful life.


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