Social anxiety is something that impacts 15 million American adults. Now, in this post-pandemic world, it’s become a greater problem than ever as people are starting to reintegrate themselves into social settings.
If you feel anxious in social situations, you’re certainly not alone. Social anxiety can cause a variety of different problematic symptoms. Some people are fearful that they’ll say or do something embarrassing. Others are frightened by the possibility of getting or passing around an illness. Some even wonder and worry if other people are saying things about them behind their back.
No matter how your social anxiety manifests itself, there are ways to get it under control.
Instead of completely avoiding social situations, work on building your confidence. Self-confidence can play a major role in social anxiety and help you to manage your symptoms and eventually overcome your fear of social situations.
Why Confidence is Important
One of the biggest issues most people with social anxiety face is a negative perception of themselves. Chances are, if you’re avoiding social situations, you automatically assume the problem is you.
Maybe you’re worried that you’ll sound unintelligent in a conversation. Maybe you think you don’t “fit in” with your group of friends. Or, you might feel as though you don’t deserve the respect or position you’ve been given in the workplace.
Unfortunately, low self-esteem can cause your anxiety to become worse. When you look down on yourself, you’re more likely to withdraw from social settings. That can contribute to feelings of loneliness and depression. You’ll develop an even stronger negative image of yourself, making it harder to get out and face your social fears.
Of course, building confidence is often easier than it sounds. So, what can you do to boost your self-esteem and gain more control over your social anxiety?
Manage Your Mental Health
Self-confidence often starts with self-care.
When you’re stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious, it’s easy to listen to (and believe) negative self-talk. Taking care of your mental health can put you in a more positive state of mind, so you start to see the good things about yourself. The “little things” can often make the biggest difference when it comes to building confidence. Try some of the following self-care practices to get started:
- Exercise each day
- Do more things that make you happy
- Remember that no one is perfect
- Focus on what you can change
- Eat a healthy diet
Changing up your look is another great way to boost your confidence and manage your mental health. That doesn’t mean the way you are right now isn’t perfect. But, sometimes things like losing weight, wearing a new outfit, or getting your teeth cleaned or whitened can make a big difference in how you view yourself.
It’s important to recognize that appearances aren’t everything. But, if you’re hyper-focused on your look, trying to “improve” it, even with a wardrobe change, can make it easier for you to start to see all of the wonderful things about yourself. You’ll be less distracted, and you can focus on being more mindful in the moment – another great way to manage your mental health and realize you have so much more to offer than you’ve been giving yourself credit for.
Start With Small Steps
Your social anxiety didn’t happen overnight, so it’s not fair to assume that it’ll go away overnight either. Building self-confidence takes time, especially if you’ve been hard on yourself for a while.
You can make the process easier by taking baby steps. For example, consider inviting a few friends over to a space you’re already familiar with, like your home. Your living space can have a big impact on your mental health. Some of the biggest factors that can affect you include:
- Colors of walls and furnishings
- Lack of safety
- Harsh lighting
If any of those factors in your home make you feel uncomfortable, consider making the necessary upgrades before inviting people over. You should feel safe and secure wherever you decide to gather in a social setting. Doing so will make the situation seem less overwhelming.
Your “baby steps” should also include having a plan or strategy for when it’s time to step out of the house. The first few social situations you find yourself in might be challenging. Again, focus on the things you can control, and create an escape plan if necessary. Every time you make it through another event, your confidence will naturally build a bit more.
Social anxiety is hard on friendships, relationships, families, and even careers. But, it can be especially hard on your mental well-being and self-confidence.
By working to rebuild that confidence and focusing on yourself, you’ll start to feel more comfortable heading back out into social situations without assuming the worst. Keep these ideas in mind to give your self-esteem a boost, and you’ll soon see just how much you have to offer the world.