7 Ways I Cope With Social Anxiety

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As a child, my parents would take my sisters and me to events or social outings. My sisters had no problem engaging with other people their age, even adults. But, for me, I would always look for a place I could retreat into myself without any intrusion or having to interact with anyone.

I thought when I became an adult this feeling would fade away but instead, it got worse. I constantly had this fear of being judged by others, I was always self-conscious and I hated the thought of having to interact with new people.

As an adult, I was officially diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder and three years after that diagnosis, I am finally starting to come to terms with it. Over the course of three years, I became very familiar with the various symptoms of social anxiety and these are the vital things I have learned on how to deal with social anxiety.

See also: 10 things to tell yourself when you're not doing great

1. You need a coping strategy for your anxiety

Don’t dwell on it and don’t let it consume you. Those were the two things my mom said to me when we got the social anxiety diagnosis, and she was right. I can't keep using social anxiety as an excuse to avoid social interactions with other people. I don't want to let it define me and that required me thinking of a way to control it. At the end of the day, I am better off for it.

2. Imagine the absolute worst case scenario

Social anxiety is not rational. Simple everyday situations can get you anxious. Imagine getting all panicky for a simple action such as getting coffee across the street? What I try to do in situations like this is to think of the absolute worst that could happen and then convince myself that if it actually happens, it is not the end of the world.

3. Social anxiety is just a small part of your life

The mistake most individuals make is that they center their life around this anxiety disorder thereby giving it a lot of power over them. Social anxiety is something you have to cope with occasionally, but, be rest assured of the fact that the feelings will always subside. Consider it a blip in your everyday life. You will have more good times than bad times and this won't consume you forever.

4. See every day as a chance to start fresh

One thing I always tell myself is, "don’t allow the feelings of today affect the mood for tomorrow”. I always start every day with a different mindset and on a clean slate. As long as I have a positive outlook, then I believe nothing can weigh me down. If I were to choose to dwell on the negatives then it is safe to say my mind won't be in a good place.

5. Humor is a great form of medicine

Have you ever considered the effect laughing can have on your body? Humor is a strong medicine which helps trigger emotional and physical changes in the body. The more I sought a positive outlook in life and focused on things that brought me joy, it became easier to handle social interactions. I was able to pull my mind from pessimistic thoughts thereby making it possible for me to go through the motions of mingling.

See also: 9 things you should never say to an introvert

6. Talk to someone about how your feeling

With social anxiety, it is quite easy to retreat into yourself and conclude that you are better off not putting yourself in places that require you to socialize. That is a big mistake. It is quite easy to shut yourself off but at the same time, it's unhealthy. It gives room for depression to creep in. Therefore, it's advisable that you seek help from a professional whether a therapist or licensed consultant who can help you get a better grasp of how to deal with the disorder.

7. The decisions you make decide how you feel

No one knows you better than you! You are the master of your own fate and you control your path in life. Whatever decisions you make will have an impact on how your life turns out. If you want to live a close to normal life or get cured of your social anxiety, then you need to make the necessary decisions and carry out the necessary actions that make it possible. You have to be proactive in order to deal with social anxiety, as therapy and medication can only get you so far. 

With my years of living with social anxiety, I have come to realize that it does not define me. At first, I let it affect how I interacted with people and how often I put myself in social situations, but I was the one suffering for it. The things I enlisted above helped me a lot and I hope they can give you the motivation to create a beautiful life.

Written by Sarah Adedun

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