Social Anxiety is the third most prominent mental health issue in the world, and it usually starts within the teenage years. Are you struggling to feel comfortable in your own skin? How confident are you in yourself? How social are you?
Being comfortable with yourself, being confident in yourself, and being social are all factors that affect your sociability, or how comfortable you are around other people. Being a teenager can suck, and for some of us, it sucks most of the time, so what do you do about it? If you do not know, or if you believe that you’re better off without friends, please keep reading for tips on how to help yourself come out of your own shell.
1. ) Some lucky people in the world have no issues people social, and they may not even give it a second thought on how to be social because it just comes so naturally to them. Unfortunately, that is certainly not true for all of us. If being social with others is difficult for you, something you can try to be more social, is to practice it. This may sound kinda silly, but it is true. Practicing being in social situations will help you prepare for the real thing. So, how do you practice being social? Some high schools do have groups for people that are looking for social practice, and many counseling practices are doing the same thing. You may be surprised to know how many people are having similar struggles as you.
2. ) This next one is going to sound cliche, but setting goals will help you envision what it is that you want for yourself. The teenage years can be very confusing and you may feel like you have no idea what you want, but setting goals will give you direction. To set goals, it helps to think about what your greatest challenge is, and then make a statement (bonus points if you write it down!) like, “I will…”. For example, if you never know what to say to that boy you like or how to keep the conversation going in a group, those would be your challenges. So, your goal may start off with “I will say hello to 3 different people everyday”, or “I will stay focused on a conversation during lunch for 10 minutes”. The idea here is to start small and set a goal that is manageable; do something that you think you can do to start and after you accomplish that, set a goal that is a little more difficult.
3. ) The final tip is to put your practice and the goals you have accomplished into real-life use. You can try finding an improv group, join a club or sport of your interest, find a meetup or any kind of special interest group at school, your local library, or local coffee house. Although these things may not be something you are readily willing to try; they may actually sound scary right now, however, they do expose you to many more social situations. The more exposure you experience, the less scary it will become.
These are only tips meant to help you, so you can take from this what works best for you.
Maurissa is a licensed therapist with training and experience in treating social anxiety, autism spectrum disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. She is passionate about helping individuals who feel as though they got lost in the middle and struggle with understanding themselves. Schedule an Appointment with Maurissa here