For some people, college is a life experience that offers great opportunities for social development. For others, though, it can be a time of significant social anxiety. If you’re in the second camp, you should know that your challenges are manageable.
Social anxiety is defined as a level of fear or anxiety experienced before, during, or after a social situation. It’s a characteristic that often prevents people from developing meaningful relationships.
Here are some ways that you can cope with bouts of social anxiety.
Talk to a Therapist
This might be the advice that you don’t want to read, but it’s also some of the best advice that you’ll receive on this subject. If you’re facing problems with social anxiety, talk to a professional therapist.
The fact of the matter is that a therapist is far more qualified to give you advice about how to overcome your fears than you probably realize. If you’ve never talked to one before, you might not be aware that therapists can offer assistance not only with their expertise, but also with their willingness to listen.
As a college student, you can first look to your university health services for professional help. You may just be able to find a great therapist without having to spend any money on a private practitioner.
Practice Deep Breathing
Your body is a machine. Like many other machines, it can be “programmed” to do the right thing.
The anxiety you experience before social situations creates tension in your body. Relieve that tension with deep breathing. Take a deep breath in, hold it for a while, and then exhale slowly. Rinse and repeat.
You’ll also likely discover a wonderful relationship between your body and mind as you practice deep breathing. The breathing exercise will relax your body. As a result, your body will relax your mind. It’s a reversal of the process that caused the anxiety initially.
However, deep breathing is something that you’ll want to practice every day. You don’t want to just do it before you get into a social situation, otherwise you’ll be focused on breathing instead of socializing.
Work Your Way Up the Ladder
One of the best ways to overcome anything or achieve any aggressive goal is with incremental progress.
Consider a social situation that gives you some anxiety, but not the greatest level of anxiety. For example, meeting with a person to study might create some anxiety, but not as much as going to a party. If that’s your situation, work on alleviating anxiety in the easier case. Then, improve yourself over time by getting into social situations that have previously offered greater challenges.
The best thing about this technique is that you’re not trying to fight the most difficult battle right at the outset. Instead, you’re building up a resistance to your anxiety by accepting tougher challenges over time.
Put this technique together with the deep breathing exercise mentioned earlier, and you could be well on your way to beating your anxiety.
You enrolled in a program like GW Online so that you could learn a skill set relevant to your professional goals. However, you’ll also need to develop socially if you want to be really successful. Follow these tips to overcome your social anxiety and improve your “soft” skills. You’ll be glad you did.