How to Beat Your Social Anxiety in 2020

Bidding
farewell to the past year and welcoming the next can be incredibly exciting and
promising. If the thought of attending a New Year’s Eve bash leaves you with
sweaty palms and heart palpitations, however, you’re not alone. About 15 million people
in America
,
including myself, struggle with social anxiety. This disorder can make the new
year an extremely stressful event. 

Luckily,
if you’ve resolved to beat your social anxiety in 2020, there is hope! Discover
a few ways you can overcome your fears and reach your goals this coming
year. 

1. Keep a Journal 

The
simplest way to begin your journey to a less anxious social life is by keeping
a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings and regularly reflect on past
entries
to
discover patterns. This technique will help you track your progress and
realize when you’re falling back into old habits and negative thought
patterns. 

Journaling
will also encourage you to work through anxious feelings. When left unchecked,
these emotions can lead to stress and rumination, which create a downward spiral.
However, you can minimize the roots of anxiety through focused examination,
jotting down self-discoveries as you go. Try writing for at least five minutes
each day. 

You
may consider penning your goals for the coming year. Take a
self-assessment quiz to set a benchmark of where you are now. Then, create
goals to improve your score. Try to make them as specific as possible, so
you can accurately and consistently measure progress. As you accomplish each
goal, retake the quiz and compare your results to previous scores. 

2. Develop Healthy Habits

As
you continue your journey of conquering social anxiety, it’s wise to create
healthy habits, such as eating nutritious foods and getting plenty of exercise.
Personally, these tasks reassure me that I’m doing everything in my power to
ensure poor health doesn’t contribute to my anxiety. When I fill up on junk
food and lock myself inside all day, I commit self-sabotage. These actions only
make me feel worse about myself and my social life or, rather, lack thereof. 

I
heartily suggest creating a dietary and physical exercise routine and holding
yourself accountable. Exercise is proven to help people
living with social anxiety
by reducing fatigue, improving concentration and boosting cognitive
function. Physical activity also triggers the release of endorphins within your
body, which improves your mood. The combined benefits are worth the effort of
integrating exercise into your daily routine. When you feel better about
yourself, you’ll feel more confident in social settings. 

Diet
also has a significant role in regulating your social anxiety symptoms.
Caffeine, for instance, mimics the body’s fear response by inducing a faster
heart rate and triggering anxiety. Dehydration can have the same effects. The
brain’s thirst receptors tap into evolutionary instincts that compel us to find
water, prompting anxiety and fear. As a result, it’s best to stay hydrated and
refrain from drinking caffeine. 

3. Get Help 

About
36% of people
report experiencing symptoms
of social anxiety disorder for 10 years before
finally seeking help. Of those who participate in cognitive behavioral
therapy, 85% drastically improve or recover from their disorder. If you’re
experiencing symptoms, don’t wait to get help. Many treatment programs,
therapies and support groups exist to help you overcome your fears.

Many
people who struggle with this mental illness develop a dependency on alcohol or
drugs to alleviate symptoms. Self-medication can lead to addiction or abuse, as
is the case with
about 20%
 of
social anxiety sufferers. Although alcohol indeed has the ability to make
you more comfortable in social situations temporarily, it can also
exacerbate feelings of irritability, depression and anxiety. 

Medication
may also be useful for some, though it works best alongside therapy or a
treatment program. Ask your doctor if antidepressants are right for you.
Additionally, you can use herbal supplements, such as Valerian root and
melatonin, as a holistic approach to conquering social anxiety. 

4. Put Yourself Out There

The
most effective way to beat social anxiety is to get out there and mingle.
Scary, right? It doesn’t have to be. Start slowly by saying hello to your
neighbor or joining a local club. Doing something you enjoy or practicing small
talk will allow you to interact with others and work on your social
skills. 

If
you struggle with initiating conversations, try complimenting a stranger or
friend on their outfit. You can also watch the nightly news to keep up on
current events and gather small talk topics. 

How to Become a Social
Butterfly in 2020

Remember, beating social anxiety is a marathon, not a sprint. You can choose to be brave, even for one minute. Resist the urge to avoid social settings and commit yourself to stepping out of your comfort zone in small ways. One day soon, you’ll find yourself toasting the new year with friends by your side and a happy heart. 


Jennifer Landis is a mom, wife, passionate freelance writer, and the blogger behind Mindfulness Mama. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.


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