“I hate social anxiety” – a feeling many of us can relate to. The sinking feeling in your stomach as you enter a room full of people, the nagging worry about making a mistake in a conversation, the crippling fear of being judged.

It’s an all too familiar narrative for those of us grappling with social anxiety.

However, instead of letting this hate fuel our anxieties, channel it into motivation for change.

Through understanding and action, we can transform our struggles into stepping stones toward a life free from the shadow of social anxiety. 

Read on as we delve into practical strategies for overcoming social anxiety and reclaiming the peace and freedom you deserve.

What is Social Anxiety Compared

what is social anxiety

15 ways & action to overcome social anxiety

1. Understand What Social Anxiety is & the Effects

Social anxiety, often misconstrued as mere shyness, is a pervasive disorder affecting 12.1% of U.S adults at some point in their lifetime [National Institute of Mental Health].

It’s characterized by an intense fear of social situations where one might be scrutinized or negatively judged by others. “I hate social anxiety,” you might say, because it makes these situations feel unbearable.

Understanding Social Anxiety: It’s vital to note that social anxiety is far more than simple nervousness. As renowned psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen notes, “It’s the belief that at any point, you can screw up and get kicked out of society and end up dying alone and penniless.” 

And, in saying “I hate social anxiety,” you’re expressing frustration with this overwhelming fear.

Identifying Triggers: One way to fight social anxiety is by identifying what triggers it – be it speaking in public, meeting new people, or attending social events – is the first step towards formulating an effective coping strategy.

Remember: Knowledge is power, and understanding yourself can help you devise strategies to manage anxiety effectively.

Action Step: Keep a ‘feelings journal’ noting when, where, and why you experience anxiety. This record can help you recognize patterns, and prepare for challenging situations.

risk factors of social anxiety

2.  Challenge Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts are usually a sentiment often tied to negative thought patterns. 

These unrealistic thoughts convince us we’re less capable or worthy than we truly are. You might find yourself thinking, “I hate social anxiety because it makes me feel less than others.”

Cognitive Restructuring: Cognitive restructuring, a technique in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), helps identify, challenge, and alter negative thought patterns. “The goal is to minimize such thoughts and replace them with more rational, realistic ones,” explains psychologist Dr. Alice Boyes.

Reframing: Reframing is another therapeutic technique where you shift perspective to view a situation differently. Instead of viewing a social gathering as a threat, you might consider it as an opportunity to improve your communication skills.

This can help mitigate feelings of anxiety.

Remember: As author Wayne Dyer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Shifting perspectives can help lessen the feelings of “I hate social anxiety.”

Action Step: Next time you catch yourself having a negative thought, challenge it. Write it down, question its validity, and replace it with a more balanced, positive thought.

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3. Practice Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing and relaxation exercises can help manage the physical symptoms of social anxiety, such as a racing heart or quickened breath.

Deep Breathing: By focusing on your breath, you can create a sense of calm and control. According to a study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, slow, controlled breathing can reduce anxiety and increase the parasympathetic response, which is responsible for relaxation.

Relaxation Techniques: Progressive muscle relaxation, a technique where you tense and then relax different muscle groups, can help reduce anxiety. Similarly, guided imagery, where you visualize a peaceful scene or event, can help you feel more relaxed and calm.

Remember: Regular practice can make these techniques more effective, helping reduce the instances when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with stress.

Action Step: Start by practicing deep breathing for 5 minutes every day. Gradually incorporate other relaxation techniques into your routine.

4. Gradual Exposure Therapy

“I hate social anxiety,” is a phrase you might find yourself saying less as you gradually face and become more comfortable with the situations that trigger your anxiety.

Understanding Gradual Exposure: Exposure therapy involves slowly and gradually exposing yourself to the situations that trigger your anxiety. “Facing your fears is more effective than avoiding them,” says renowned psychologist Dr. David Burns.

Remember: Progress may be slow, but it’s about constant improvement and reducing anxiety over time. And each time you’re able to face fear without overwhelming anxiety, you’re one step closer to a time when you no longer feel anxious

Action Step: Identify one small social interaction that makes you slightly uncomfortable but is manageable. Commit to doing it regularly until you notice your anxiety lessen.

5. Seek Support from Loved Ones

Having a support system is essential for managing social anxiety. Often when we’re able to share our feelings, including thoughts like “I hate having social anxiety” it becomes easier to cope.

Building a Support System: Confide in a trusted friend or family member about your social anxiety. You could also consider joining a support group, where you can connect with others who are facing similar challenges.

Remember: You don’t have to fight social anxiety alone. Sharing your thoughts and feelings can provide emotional relief and practical solutions. Having someone to talk to can help reduce the frequency of negative thoughts and feeling burnt out.

Action Step: Reach out to a trusted friend or family member and share your experiences with them. If you’re comfortable, consider joining a support group for social anxiety.

6. Professional Help Can Reduce Anxiety

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we might need professional help. “I hate social anxiety,” you might express to your therapist, who can provide effective strategies tailored to your unique experiences.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is one of the most effective treatments for social anxiety. It involves identifying negative thought patterns and learning how to challenge them.

Medication: In some cases, medication may be recommended as part of treatment. It’s important to have an open discussion with your healthcare provider about the potential benefits and risks.

Remember: Seeking professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It’s an important step towards reducing the feelings of “I hate social anxiety.”

Action Step: If your social anxiety is significantly impacting your life, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. They can provide a range of treatments and strategies to help you manage your symptoms.

therapy for social anxiety

7. Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle can be instrumental in managing your social anxiety. Every time you think, “I hate social anxiety,” remember that small, healthy changes can make a big difference.

Balanced Diet: Eating a balanced diet not only nourishes your body but also your mind. Certain foods like those rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B, and antioxidants can contribute to better mental health.

Exercise: Regular physical activity can reduce symptoms of anxiety by boosting your mood and acting as a natural stress reliever. Next time you think, “I hate social anxiety,” consider going for a run or practicing yoga.

Quality Sleep: Sleep deprivation can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. Ensuring you have good sleep hygiene can help manage your social anxiety symptoms.

Remember: A healthy lifestyle is a vital part of managing social anxiety. Small changes can help reduce thoughts like, “I hate social anxiety.”

Action Step: Make a commitment to adopting one healthy habit this week, such as incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet or establishing a regular sleep schedule.

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8. Self-Compassion

Being kind to yourself is crucial in your journey to manage social anxiety. When you catch yourself thinking, “I hate social anxiety,” it’s also important to remember not to hate yourself for experiencing it.

Understanding Self-Compassion: It’s about being gentle with yourself when you’re suffering or feeling inadequate, rather than being critical.

Practicing Self-Compassion: Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in the field, suggests several exercises, like writing a letter to yourself from the perspective of a compassionate friend, or practicing mindfulness to confront negative thoughts without judgment.

Remember: When you catch yourself thinking, “I hate social anxiety,” redirect some of that compassion toward yourself. It’s not your fault you’re dealing with this, and it’s okay to be kind to yourself.

Action Step: Practice one self-compassion exercise daily. When you catch yourself saying, “I hate social anxiety,” remind yourself it’s okay to struggle and everyone does at times.


9. Keep Learning and Growing

Remember, overcoming social anxiety is a journey, not a destination. It’s normal to have moments where you say, “I hate social anxiety,” but remember that every day is an opportunity for growth.

Continuous Learning: Keep informed about the latest research and strategies for managing social anxiety. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better equipped you are to deal with your social anxiety.

Celebrate Progress: No matter how small, celebrate your progress. Maybe you were able to attend a social gathering or speak up in a meeting. These victories matter.

Remember: Growth takes time. Even if you still find yourself thinking, “I hate social anxiety,” recognize the progress you’ve made and the growth that’s yet to come.

Action Step: Write down one thing you learned about social anxiety this week, and one success, no matter how small. Celebrate your continuous learning and progress.

10. Develop Coping Strategies

Coping strategies are the methods we use to deal with stressful or difficult situations. They can be particularly helpful in managing moments of intense social anxiety.

Effective Coping Strategies: These can include grounding exercises, which help you stay focused on the present, visualization techniques, and distraction methods, like listening to music or reading a book.

Remember: What works best will be individual to you, so it’s crucial to try different strategies and see which ones help most.

Action Step: Create a ‘coping toolbox,’ a collection of physical activities, relaxation techniques, and mental strategies that you can turn to when feeling anxious.

cope with social anxiety

Bonus Tips: Unique Ways to Feel Less Anxious

11. Reality Role-Play: Harnessing the Power of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) therapy offers an immersive and controlled environment to practice social interactions. By creating virtual scenarios that trigger social anxiety, you can gradually expose yourself to challenging situations. 

12. Reverse Social Engineering: Shifting the Focus

Reverse social engineering encourages a shift in perspective by studying and analyzing the behavior of others in uncomfortable social situations. By observing body language, conversation patterns, and responses, you gain valuable insights and realize that everyone has their own insecurities. 

13. Comedy Therapy: Laughter as a Catalyst for Growth

Joining an improvisation or stand-up comedy class tailored for individuals with social anxiety can be a transformative experience. These classes provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment to practice public speaking and comedic timing. 

14. Nature Immersion: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Outdoors

Nature-based therapies combine the calming influence of nature with exposure to social situations. Engaging in outdoor group activities, such as hiking or team-building exercises, offers a relaxed setting to interact with others. 


15. Therapeutic Gaming: Utilizing Technology for Social Growth

Therapeutic video games specifically designed to address social anxiety can be valuable tools in the journey toward overcoming social anxiety. These games provide virtual social interactions and guided exercises to practice skills such as initiating conversations, maintaining eye contact, and managing anxiety symptoms. 

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What you can do right now

Download our Tool Kit for free (mini-course, social blueprint, and more) Prepare more when you go out to socialize.

We think if you join our community or read a few more blog posts, you won’t be saying, “I hate social anxiety!” But, you’ll feel more confident, and prepared and you’ll know what to do next, especially, when it comes to socializing.

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