Social media can be a minefield of scams, fake news, and viral scams. It can be an endless stream of cat videos that make you want to pull your hair out and hide under a rock. But it can also offer amazing opportunities as well as incredible access to your friends and family. Anyone who wants to know what you’re up to can check out your social media accounts- which means they are yours for the world to see. This might sound scary, but with the right strategies, it doesn’t have to be. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 25% of adults in North America are affected by some form of anxiety at any given time (which is just about everybody). In fact, not only is anxiety common- it’s one of the most prevalent psychological disorders in recent memory.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is the fear of being judged by others in social situations. It can feel like you’ll say or do something embarrassing or stupid. It can make you self-conscious and awkward, and wonder if you’re doing something “wrong” or creepy. Social anxiety can be caused by many factors, including:
How to Deal With Social Anxiety
Here are some strategies you can use to manage your anxiety around social situations. For best results, you’ll want to try them out and see what works best for you. – Accept that you feel anxious – No one is perfect, and everyone experiences anxiety. If you’re freaking out because you “think” you have social anxiety- you do. Accept that and don’t beat yourself up for being human. If you want to work on your anxiety- but don’t feel comfortable identifying as an anxiety disorder- you can still start to manage it! If you don’t feel comfortable saying that you have anxiety- don’t. But let other people know that you feel a little awkward when you meet new people. You don’t have to tell them that you have social anxiety, but letting them know that you feel a little self-conscious can help you feel more comfortable in social situations.
So, why do you feel anxious in social situations?
Social anxiety is caused by many factors, but one of the biggest reasons why you feel anxious in social situations is because you’re worried about what other people will think of you. You might be worried that you’ll say or do something embarrassing, or that you’ll seem creepy or weird. When you’re worrying about what other people think- you’re also worrying about how you’ll feel in the moment. You might be worried that if you smile and say “Hi”- you’ll feel awkward, like you’ll say something weird, or that you’ll say something embarrassing or stupid. You might be worried that if you don’t try to be funny, or if you don’t react in a certain way, that you’ll seem like a “dumb person”.
Strategies for Managing Social Anxiety
When you feel anxious in social situations- use these strategies to help you feel more comfortable. You might notice that some of them work better for you than others. – Make a plan – For example: “I’m going to try and make a plan before I go to parties and events. This way I can think ahead and know that I’ll be able to get things done if I feel anxious.” Or: “I’m going to try and take deep breaths before I go to social situations. This way I can stay focused on what I need to do when I’m there.” – Take deep breaths – When you feel nervous, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re normal. You might be surprised by how calm you feel when you take a few seconds to calm yourself down. – Stay focused – Don’t let your anxiety get you off track.
Take a break and exercise
When you feel anxious, it’s common to want to stay busy and avoid thinking about your anxiety. This can cause you to feel even more anxious because you’re trying to busy yourself out of it- which has been scientifically proven to not work. Try taking a break from social media for a few hours. You might feel better if you take a break from social media altogether. If you want to continue using social media- make sure you take a break every now and then.
Talk to a friend or loved one
If you’re worried that you feel weird when you’re around certain people- talk to a friend or loved one. Let them know that you’re worried that you might seem awkward. Ask them to help you figure out what you’re really worried about- and if there’s something you can do to help them feel more comfortable.
Find your passion and pursue it with all your heart
If social anxiety is preventing you from doing the things you love- then figure out a way to manage it. Find your passion, and pursue it with all your heart. For example, if you love to paint but are afraid to show your paintings to other people- try sketching your paintings or painting small pieces. You can always paint a bigger piece if you get comfortable with doing smaller pieces. In the end, the thing to do is to just practice opening up to new experiences, and letting yourself feel whatever you feel. You might be surprised by how much better you feel once you get a chance to experience it.
While social media can be great for connecting with friends and family, it can also be challenging to navigate. If you feel anxious while using social media- there are strategies you can use to help you feel more comfortable. Social media might make you anxious if you worry about what others think, if you worry about how others will perceive you, or if you worry about what you’ll say or do in specific social situations. If you’re anxious about social situations- try these strategies to help you feel more comfortable.