I don’t know about you, but I get embarrassed easily. Not about silly mistakes, but about my appearance. I have a bad case of confirmation bias that starts a negative feedback. My brain will automatically think someone else laughs because of me. It wouldn’t be an issue if I could just ignore it. But instead, the negative self-talk that makes me feel worse just starts. And if I’m not careful it can get outta control, paralyzing me with fear.
It’s that fear that keeps social anxiety active. The fear of experiencing a crippling fear or a panic attack. This hasn’t happened in quite awhile because I’ve been doing better. But there are people out there who can’t say the same.
A little growing up to do
It’s difficult to live in the world when you believe it is hostile and you don’t have what it takes to fight back. That’s usually the case with social anxiety. Some people push through and do well. Others don’t. Fear rules their lives and their self-esteem prevents them from taking chances.
If fear controls you, I want to give you four ways to improve your social anxiety. You can take them if you like. But I have to warn you that if you decide to take them, you will have to do unpleasant things, painful even. I know pain doesn’t sound appealing. But sometimes your well-being depends on how well you can take what the world throws at you.
It’s free but takes guts to push through. But you will appreciate yourself more.
If you’re ready to accept this, then read on. Otherwise, you can stop here.
1— Make new friends who share your interests
The strongest friendships tend to be with people with whom you share common interests. Common goals, major, work, leisure, TV-shows, political party. I nerd out a lot on my favorite anime, One Piece. That’s how I solidified my friendship with my closest friend. I’ve even met random people who became my friends just because they overheard me talk about it.
Look, I know what you’re thinking. What if I have no friends? That’s how a lot of people with social anxiety feel — that they have no friends. It’s even tougher when you feel alone. It’s like having blinkers on. You can only see what you don’t have instead of what you do have.
If you find yourself feeling alone, take heart and get creative. It’s a lot easier to make new friends than you think.
The easiest way I found is to be open about your identity and about your general location. People online are afraid that some creep will get their information and seek retribution if you beat them at a game or say something nasty to them. So, you should not reveal anything sensitive, like your address. Just show your face with a picture. It builds trust with the people you interact with online.
There are several good routes to do this, but here are my top two:
Tinder — yes, you heard right. Tinder is probably the single best app to meet people. It is not just a dating app. It’s the perfect space to advertise your interests and draw in potential friends. People use it to grow their Instagram following or find others to show them around a city they’re visiting. The possibilities are endless. Use the space available for the bio to let people know your intentions. Don’t limit your audience to just one gender and use pizza as an incentive.
Craigslist — Craigslist is an amazing space for free advertisement. You can create an ad for almost anything you want but you will want to post in the “personals” section. That’s where people make posts for dating and friendship. All you really need is a compelling and engaging title that states your intention. I also recommend you post a cool picture of you to build trust. Even better if it’s a group picture. You can invite your prospects to inquire about you, e.g., points for guessing which one is me.
Be advised that there are some graphic pictures posted on there. And be wary of scams. If it’s too good to be true, that’s because it is. Again pizza is everything. Your prospects need to know that they’re benefiting from the experience.
The goal is to ease your way into someone’s life who shares your interests. Emphasis on ease. You don’t want to be obnoxious or pushy.
For example, if you like computer gaming organize a small get-together. You can nerd all day about your character choices, builds, form parties, and eat pizza. All of it in your basement, if you so choose. Again, definitely use the pizza as an incentive.
You can and should leverage your interest to make new friends. It isn’t without heart and headache but you will be glad that you did when they become your lifelong friends.
When was the last time you exercised? I don’t mean a light stroll around the park. I mean exerting yourself to the point of exhaustion. If it has been awhile or you never have, listen: you-are-missing-out.
You are missing out on the satisfaction of pushing through pain and then hearing, “this workout is complete.” I’m talking about exercises that range from 6 minutes to 45 minutes. You might think 6 minutes is short. And you’re right. It is. But those 6 minutes will be the longest you’ll ever experience.
It will be sloppy the first few times because of the intensity and strength those six minutes require, but when you come out on the other side you will thank you for even going through it.
That satisfaction is addicting for good reasons. Everyone wants to leave home feeling like a million bucks. Investing just a small portion of your time to work out will do that for you. You will feel 100 times better after putting in the time because you are taking an initiative to better your life, all while improving your health and physical appearance. Most exercises I suggest here can be done in the comfort of your home with no equipment.
A Rich Journey
I took on that workout journey myself. A journey so difficult that warming up makes you think, “Holy shit, what did I sign up for?”
But when you strap down and hear, “this is the last exercise, push!” You pull strength you didn’t even know you had to get to the end.
That last push is everything because you know that you will be a different person after completing it. Not the person paralyzed by fear. But the person who conquers himself in the face of adversity.
You can be that person today. I put a list of free exercises you can choose from at the end of this article. Pick the one you like. I recommend something that pushes you a lot and JUST DO IT.
Then thank yourself for doing it.
3— Make videos of yourself
Some people with anxiety tend to struggle with expressing themselves. Even sharing a video might make you anxious because you might be judged. If you feel like that, you just haven’t fully accepted yourself.
Yet they say Millennials love social media, which is true for most of my entourage anyway. But I’m backward with those, especially Snapchat. It’s a pain in the ass to always be taking pictures as replies. More often than not, I do this thing where I reply in my head and forget to actually send the reply. And there I am four hours later replying to an invitation to hang out.
But while it can be annoying to reply, you can benefit from making videos as replies instead.
A video gives you all the time you need to express your thought. You will learn to appreciate the sound of your voice, your appearance, and your thoughts.
If you’re anything like me, I still don’t like the sound of my voice. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but think, “Is that really how I sound? Gross.” But I laugh it off because I know that I’m not the only one. Even actors and actresses hated the sound of their voice at one point. It’s something you learn to accept — another step to becoming more self-aware.
4 — Seek a new perspective
It’s easy to think that we know everything we need to overcome our demons. But, often times, it isn’t a lack of knowledge that is the issue. It’s the lack of action that validates that knowledge.
Sometimes you just need someone to get you out of your own head. At this point, I have a Ph.D. in overthinking. And so do most people who suffer from anxiety. But talking to someone who will listen and give you honest feedback will do 5 important things for you:
- Better emotional resilience and social intelligence — take criticism better and be more self-assured
- Gain greater awareness of your strengths and weaknesses and improve your confidence — essential for taking risks
- Increase your emotional vocabulary — reduce your anxiety
- Learn to be vulnerable — learn to let go of your ego
My most recent relationship really opened up my eyes to this. I was stuck in my head, drowning in self-esteem issues. But, what I didn’t see in myself, she saw in me and so did the people close to me. I will forever be grateful for that.
Above all things, remember that everything you choose to do today is because you love yourself. Even if you don’t feel like you do, doing is the greatest proof of that love. The more you do for yourself, the more you will become self-assured and reduce your anxiety. That’s what it all comes down to, so go slay those demons one day at a time.
Pick an exercise below and let me know in the comment section how it worked for you. And if you found this guide helpful, hit the recommend button to let others gain from it and follow me for more. Thanks for reading!
List of exercises
If you don’t work out often, these are great to get started. Keep in mind that that does not mean they’re easy.
Intense At Home Pyramid HIIT Workout with Warm Up & Cool Down (I highly recommend this circuit. It’s challenging and you’re building your overall body strength. it’s not quite beginner level but completing it a few times will put you in the intermediate league.)
Fat Burning HIIT Cardio Workout with No Equipment (Advanced and Low Impact Modifications) (Same as above. Recommended)
If you’re strapped down for time these are great:
If you have an intermediate level strength, you can complete any of these and gain.