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Coping with Social Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder is the second most commonly diagnosed form of anxiety in the U.S.

Many people go straight to others, even if they meet them for the first time. After a few minutes, they speak with these strangers as if they have known them forever. These people are at ease in society, the contact with others flourishes, they do not fear to be observed, they do not feel embarrassed when everyone looks at them or listens to them. Others prefer to sit back, wait for others to come to them, never put themselves forward, need time to make contacts, feel nervous and uncomfortable at the beginning of a meeting. Both attitudes are normal. They constitute the extreme poles of a fundamental dimension of our personality, the extraversion-introversion dimension. Most people are somewhere in between, they are more or less introverted or extroverted. The embarrassment in front of others is experienced as shyness by the people concerned. It can however be perceived or interpreted as a distancing or arrogance by others.

Fear of being judged negatively by others

Some people have an intense and uncontrollable fear of social situations. This fear can take the form of a panic attack. It can be accompanied by a flushing, trembling hands, a fear of vomiting, a need to urinate. People can not control their anxiety in front of others. Their anxiety causes significant suffering and impairment of their social, professional, academic or other important areas of functioning. In this case, we talk about Social Phobia or Social Anxiety.

Performance-Only Social Anxiety 

In some people suffering from Social Anxiety (Phobia), fear is limited to a specific social situation i.e. performance situations or to a small number of related situations. It is often a fear of speaking in front of others, speaking in front of a group, taking an oral exam or a job interview.

Generalized Social Anxiety

In this case, fear of others extends to most social situations. These people feel uncomfortable and anxious in all or almost all situations that put them in contact with others. They are afraid to do anything in front of others, especially talking, eating, drinking, phoning, writing in front of others. In addition, these people are usually afraid to ask someone for service or to refuse to do their own service, to participate in a discussion, to defend their opinion or to defend their rights.

Facts & Stats on Social Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million U.S. adults. According to The National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), social anxiety has a 12-month prevalence rate of 6.8%, placing it as the third most common mental disorder in the U.S. However, wider prevalence have been found in other parts of the world, including Europe. The disorder usually begins during childhood. It is as common in men as in women.

Symptoms related to social anxiety

People with social phobia generally find it difficult to open up to the outside world and maintain friendly, romantic or professional relationships. In these people, we also observe the appearance of various characteristic symptoms when they have to interact with others. We could classify these events on 3 levels, namely:


A feeling of discomfort that become apparent through the redness of skin and unusual acceleration of the heartbeat ;

  • Hot flashes and excessive sweating;
  • breathing difficulties ;
  • Drying of the mouth and a feeling of sudden thirst;
  • Uncontrollable spasms and visible tremors especially in the hands.


  • A panic attack and a loss of control
  • Aggressive behavior, an irrational attitude sometimes accompanied by crying


  • Difficulty in speaking and speaking coherently
  • A quick and incomprehensible phrase accompanied by stuttering;
  • A silence

The above list contains only the most common symptoms of social anxiety. Note that there are certainly others, because we all react differently to our fears.

Living with social anxiety is tough. So, how to overcome shyness and social anxiety? There are different social anxiety coping mechanisms/ social anxiety coping skills

Social anxiety help tips 

How to deal with social anxiety at work

How to deal with social anxiety at work

Here are 8 tips that will help you to reduce your social anxiety

1.Ask yourself the right questions

Start by asking yourself the following questions: Why should you get rid of your social anxiety? How will this improve your quality of life? What impact will this change have on your social relationships?

Social anxiety has the unfortunate tendency to isolate people who suffer from it: it prevents them from undertaking projects and flourishing in their lives. The worst part of all this is that phobic people get used to this state of loneliness and that way of life. That's why it's important that you first understand the need for such a change.

2. Determine the source of your fears

To fight against social phobia, ask yourself these questions: What are you really afraid of? What puts you in such a state? It is always interesting to determine the source of the fears to be able to work on it. That said, it is strictly unnecessary to dwell on the past and to pity yourself on your fate. Remember that determining the source of your fears is necessary only to confront and surpass them.

3. Understand that anxiety and stress affect us all

You are not the only one feeling anxious and stressed when you have to speak in public, have a job interview or go on a first date. Understand that these feelings affect us all, to different degrees certainly, but we are all facing the fear of the unknown .

Never forget that people who might intimidate you also have their own complexes. People rarely pay attention to what surrounds them. They focus on themselves to hide their imperfections and appear in their best light.

Tell yourself that we all are afraid of being rejected, misunderstood or judged for our actions. A good reason to stop fixing it.

4. Set achievable goals

Go slowly, but surely. Progress at your own pace by setting achievable goals that will allow you to regain self-confidence and belief in your abilities. Put yourself in situation gradually, the goal here is to reduce your anxiety , so go ahead gradually.

To cure or lessen your social anxiety, get out and go to public places where you are surrounded by people, but you do not have to interact with them; I mean public gardens or downtown, early in the morning. I say "force yourself", because when we suffer from social anxiety, we will tend to lock ourselves at home so as not to cross many people.

Once you've gone beyond that, you can go up a notch and approach the people you meet regularly at the park to ask for the time or just say hello. You can also go to narrower and relatively congested places like libraries, movie theaters or museums.

I also advise you to start by addressing people of the same sex or someone who does not attract you particularly. It's hard enough for you to talk to strangers, do not add another source of stress, to please.

5. Focus on what's around you

Admit that you finally took your courage with both hands and that you approached this lady who walks every morning in the same garden. You have barely acknowledged that the symptoms of social anxiety have manifested themselves; in this case, the best solution is to focus on what is around you and not your fear, at the risk of worsening your condition. Focus on the trees, the flowers, the people passing by, better still, focus on your interlocutor.

6. Adopt positive thinking

Try to be positive and put into perspective, because negativity will not get you anywhere. Tell yourself - and believe it above all else - that you are interesting and that you, like everyone, have things to say and share.

Do not seek the approval of others, love yourself, enjoy yourself and the rest will follow. Self-esteem and self- confidence are important, if not essential, for getting rid of social anxiety.

7. Breathe

Breathing is certainly innate ... but knowing how to breathe is learned . There are breathing exercises that you can put into practice to reduce your stress and keep your emotions under control. Breathe, it will make you crazy!

8. Practice a sporting or artistic activity

The best way for you to socialize without rushing is to practice a sports or artistic group activity. Depending on your preferences, you can go hiking, try out team sports or do theater. In my opinion, this last option is the best.

Social Anxiety Self Help Book

Social anxiety self help books are of great help. Refer to the list of 9 great social anxiety self help books below:

Free Social Anxiety Help Online


The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. This is not a professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.

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