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7 Strategies to Cope with Social Anxiety

Public speaking is society’s #1 fear, ahead of more frivolous worries like death. You do not want to let anxiety stop you from having a prosperous career though. To that end, Barbara Markway, Ph.D. shares seven tips to help you overcome your social anxiety.

How to Keep Calm

First, realize that anxiety is natural, and there is nothing wrong with having a particularly boisterous fight or flight response. Nonetheless, anxiety is not real, but rather a construct of impractically negative thoughts that have bundled up in your head; if you can train yourself to think more realistically (which is not the same as thinking optimistically), you can pick apart and dissolve these bundles of negativity. When possible, re-label your worrisome thoughts, such as replacing “I’m getting anxious” with “I’m getting excited!” A more physical solution though is to listen to the stereotype—take deep breaths, so slow that you only take eight breaths in a minute. It should help “reset” you. Otherwise, try to block out any physical cues of nervousness from your mind and focus on doing well at the task at hand. Ultimately, you have to be willing to accept uncomfortable situations are going to arise, and that is okay. Even more, accept that there will be uncertainty. Really great things can happen sometimes when the future is not set in stone.

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