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Social Anxiety: 5 Ways to Relax Around People

Many people feel nervous and uptight around others. First – let’s get this out of the way. It’s normal.

There we said it.

Now that we have acknowledged that social anxiety should be normalized, we can move on.

For some people, it’s hard to enjoy socializing because they don’t relax.

Call it stress. Call it depression. Call it whatever you like.

The simple fact is for some people, the idea of being around a bunch of other people is terrifying.

We’re here to help. These five tips can help you relax around people, and maybe even enjoy yourself. Let’s dive in!

1. Drop Control for Curiosity

People sometimes want to control social situations when they’re nervous or overwrought.

In other words, you might get the urge to micromanage social circumstances.

You hope being in control will help you navigate interactions. You also might believe you can control whether people are enjoying themselves. And, if you do, then you control how they feel about you.

What does this look like in practice?

  • Making sure everyone is getting enough to eat
  • Worrying about the weather, and how it will impact everyone
  • Turning the football game on even though you hate sports!

You get wrapped up in how others are experiencing an event. You don’t stop to think about how you are feeling.

The problem is this makes you look like a control freak.

If you attempt to enforce your ideas while socializing, you come across as an event supervisor. You don’t appear or act like one of the gang.

You might appear confident because you’re organized, but that’s far from the truth.

Inside, you’re anxious and want to get interacting with people out of the way so you can return to your comfort zone.

What often happens when we try to control our surroundings? The whole situation backfires.

Rather than maintaining rigid ideas about what should happen when socializing, adopt a sense of curiosity.

Since you can’t control anything, what will happen is unknown.

So, be curious about how events may unfurl and loosen your controlling grip.

Let events unravel as they will without trying to change them.

Treat it like a movie you don’t know the end of. You might even enjoy the movie if you just let it play out.

Of course, not being in charge will feel uncomfortable initially.

But practice taking a back seat, and you may find you’ll relax more around people.

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2. Practice Authenticy

Another way social anxiety can show up is the need to fit in with other and seem likable.

You may aim to please others. Thsi can look like:

  • Withholding your real thoughts
  • Attempting to appear to be like-minded around everyone
  • Agreeing with religious or political comments
  • Pretending you like the same food and drinks as everyone else
  • Perhaps even gossiping when you don’t actually want to

Aiming for perfection and likability is another way you might try. It might be to avoid discomfort.

You may believe that controlling how others perceive you makes life easier.

In reality, it creates strain and reduces your pleasure.

Embracing being you means letting people see your authentic self.

For instance, speak up more often, and you’ll notice nothing truly bad will happen

In fact, your honesty might present the opportunity to make real friends and develop long lasting relationships.

Don’t worry if your ideas and tastes differ from other people’s.

You’re unique! Revealing the real you is more fascinating than when you are pretending to be something you’re not.

3. Don’t Take Things Personally

We admit, this one is easier said than done.

When people get together, they might tease and make jokes.

If social anxiety is a problem for you, you might have trouble engaging in these jokes without taking offense.

Take a step back and consider that people don’t mean to upset you.

The truth is, they might not mean any harm.

Are you the only one they are making comments to? Or do they make jokes with their other pals too?

If so, there’s not need to take things personally.

And, if it goes too far and you’re really uncomfortable with something that was said, think about why it bothered you.

In some cases taking a moment of self reflection will reveal that the reason a joke bothered you. It could be that you have an issue that you need to heal.

If the joke continues, you could say something. Or, you might just want to take some time to heal it so the joke doesn’t bother you anymore. It’s really up to you how you choose to proceed.

4. Forgive Yourself for Making Mistakes

Everyone makes the occasional mistake.

Social anxiety can make you scared to slip up though.

You might experience the fear of appearing foolish or getting rejected.

The people who love you won’t leave you over a mistake.

To make mistakes is human. It’s going to happen, and it’s okay.

The fear of making mistakes could keep you awake while you worry about what people think of you.

But it’s safe to let yourself off the hook when you mess up.

See your mistakes as life lessons offering wisdom that helps you progress.

5. Envision Realistic Outcomes for Social Anxiety

In other words, don’t try to make every social outing perfect.

And, don’t expect them to go horribly wrong either.

Trying to make things perfect or expecting the worst won’t help your anxiety at all.

In fact, it can often make it worse!

Put another way, picturing events as perfect or dreadful isn’t realistic.

It actually does more harm than good.

Your expectations are too high or far too low as a result, and your anxiety grows. It’s more helpful to adopt a down-to-earth attitude before attending social events.

Remind yourself that life isn’t perfect, and most of the time, it’s not awful, either.

Sometimes, you’ll have a great time, and at others, not so much.

When we picture how an event could go, rather than just letting it play out, it can leave us frustrated. It’s like showing up to a play with a different script and then getting mad the actors didn’t say the right lines.

Don’t set yourself up to be disappointed.

A Quick Recap

Again, our five tips for relaxing around people are:

  1. Drop Control for Curiosity – you can’t control everything and everyone.
  2. Practice Authenticity – show up as the real YOU.
  3. Don’t Take Things Personally – most people aren’t actively trying to hurt your feelings.
  4. Forgive Yourself for Making Mistakes – we all make mistakes because we’re human!
  5. Envision Realistic Outcomes – don’t expect things to go really great or terrible, just let them happen.

What Should You Do if Social Anxiety is Overwhelming?

For some people, no amount of preparing yourself to go out into the world will reduce your anxiety. When this happens, it could be time to talk to someone about how you’re feeling.

It can be scary to admit that you struggle interacting with others. There is hope for you. The health professionals at Pathways Counseling Services understand what you’re going through.

We believe that no one should feel like they would be better off staying at home. Life is meant to be enjoyed and lived fully.

And, that’s just what we want to help you do – live your life to the fullest.

If you would like to talk to one of our counselors, we would be honored to help you work through whatever you are dealing with.

Schedule online. It’s easy, fast and secure.

Pathways Counseling Services therapists are fully trained in treating social anxiety disorders so you can live life to the fullest.

Pathways Counseling Services is the top-rated therapy and counseling service in Scottsdale, Arizona, year after year. We can help you live a happier and healthier life through effective and supportive mental health care. Book an appointment today, contact us or you can reach us by phone at 480-235-1682