Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Have you ever felt scared when presenting in front of a whole class?
Have you ever skipped a class, because even the thought of you standing in front of all the people made you nauseous?
Have you ever stuttered talking to a stranger/coworker/distant friend and felt so shit about it that next time you wouldn't even open your mouth?
How about sitting in the office and postponing a phone call to a client all day and then being relieved when he doesn't answer?
And what about working in retail or hospitality, get yelled at by a customer (or a manager, of course) and then getting sick only thinking about coming back to work?
Getting rid of anxiety is not a short process. Even when you feel like you got rid of it, you are never completely free.
But making steps in order to feel much better is better than just waiting for it to disappear.
1. Breathe, meditate, pray
I'm sure you've heard of this before.
Try to sit down, close your eyes and relax your body.
First relax your face muscles.
No frowning, no biting lips.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Then relax your neck.
One by one, relax every part of your body.
If you realize you moved or there is 1 tense muscle on your body, you have to start all over again.
The thing is, it's so hard to keep everything relaxed, that you will find yourself doing it for a long time.
And that's good, because guess what?
It will distract you.
It's definitely better to do this when you have more free time, but a quick breath-in-breath-out sure helps just before you are about perform or speak.
If you're religious, you are familiar with the strength of a prayer.
A prayer helps to calm down and put your mind at peace almost instantly.
Don't forget about this when you feel anxious.
Multiple religions and philosophers teach this:
Your body and your mind should be in harmony and both should be healthy.
Try to consciously calm yourself down and heal yourself soon.
2. Record and watch yourself
This works the best if you have a presentation to make, but even if not and you'd like to work on your social anxiety, give it a shot.
It might be very awkward and uncomfortable, but it's one of the best things you can do to help yourself.
Record yourself or ask someone to record you on video.
Stand up and talk about something.
Try to be as natural as possible.
Whether you come up with a topic to present or you have something prepared, make sure you try to stick to it.
When you watch yourself afterwards (and you get over the awkwardness), you'll find out that it's not as bad as you thought.
You might be way too critical, but if you watch the video with someone, they'll most likely tell you a lot of positives about your performance.
Maybe they'll tell you that you squeeze your hands too much.
Or you walk around a lot.
Or your chin is down and you keep looking on the ground.
But all of that will lead to you realizing how you can improve yourself.
And not only will you keep making your presentations and performances better, you'll get more and more confident.
Because guess what, confident people don't look down.
Confident people don't play with their fingers.
They seem relaxed and as if nobody could break them.
So you'll learn to fix what you're doing wrong.
And you'll fake it till you make it.
I'll keep this point short, and that's because I know that you know.
Sometimes it seems like everybody tries to persuade you that exercising is a solution to everything.
Well, it's not.
But remember when I said body and mind should be in harmony?
A healthy body helps the mind stay healthy and vice versa.
I bet a good session of kickboxing will help you feel more confident, strong and ready to face anything.
Yoga will help you calm down and see everything from a different point of view.
Try and see for yourself. Gain a healthy body and a healthy mind.
This point has a lot to do with point 2.
It's all about faking it till making it.
A great practice of pretending that you don't have social anxiety, that you're confident, an excellent speaker and super friendly is to talk to people you don't meet on daily basis and don't really have to care about what they think.
If you work with people, you probably can put yourself in a "customer service" mode.
That includes change of tone and vocabulary (baby talk, anyone?) and being extremely nice and chatty, even if that's the last thing you feel like being. But also you're very sensitive to a slight change of mood or a rude customer.
Having a polite conversation with a friend's girlfriend you don't know too well, a waitress, who's obligated to be nice to you or an aunt you only see once a year on Christmas, is a good opportunity to practice.
Most of these people will be nice and polite to you. They won't judge you (at least not to your face) and they will happily make small talk with you.
A great thing is - they will probably forget all about you/your talks right after you say goodbye.
So if the fear of embarrassing yourself or being judged is what's making it harder for you to speak to people, try and put yourself in the customer service mode with these people - even if you don't work in customer service.
Start with these steps to fight your social and performance anxiety, even if you're not comfortable with the idea of you making them.