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Sweet biscuit sugar plum. Halvah chocolate bar jujubes. Dragée donut candy.

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Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, dread, and uneasiness typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Social anxiety is a feeling of worry or nervousness focused mainly on social interactions. To better understand social anxiety, let’s start by learning the main components that anxiety is created and sustained by:

  1. Physiological

    • Rapid heart rate

    • Sweaty palms

    • A lack of appetite

  2. Cognitive

    • Anxious thoughts

    • Predictions

    • Judgments

  3. Behavioral

    • Avoiding certain people, places, or situations

    • Difficulty saying “no” and honoring boundaries

    • Tendency to snap at others with little warning

Most people with anxiety experience all 3 parts together. If your professor emails you and asks to speak after class tomorrow, you might experience your heart drop, and your hands begin to sweat (Physiological). Then you might notice yourself starting to worry, and creating scenarios about what they will tell you (Cognitive). Then you might put it off by skipping your next class and finally struggling to make eye contact once you’re there (Behavioral).

When we struggle with anxiety all three components happen almost automatically. That’s why to challenge social anxiety, we must also challenge the three components. The following daily hacks utilize these components.

8 daily hacks for coping with social anxiety

1. Ground yourself before anything

Grounding exercises are a way for us to firmly anchor ourselves in the present. Keeping a consistent grounding routine is also a great spiritual practice. Because anxiety typically separates you from the present, using a grounding exercise before you find yourself in a situation that feels distressing, or overwhelming can help prevent some anxiety. Here are a few ideas: Consistently write down your thoughts and fears in an anxiety journal, meditate, 4-7-8 breathing, look around where you are and name 5 things you can see, touch, taste, hear, and smell. Make a small list of grounding exercises that you can choose from every day.


2. Distract yourself

This tip might seem counterintuitive to grounding, but there is real value in distraction. There is only so much we can prepare ourselves for, so instead of worrying about all the things that might happen in a given situation, try keeping yourself busy so you don’t have time to over-think. This can look like bringing a book of short stories with you to read as you wait, or listening to an interesting podcast, playing a game on your phone, or painting your nails.


3. practice small talk

Because of the pandemic, most of us have been intentionally avoiding places like the grocery store, gas station, or coffee shop to limit our interactions with others, but now that vaccines are more accessible, more people are spending time out of the house, and that means more time having small talk. I know this can be scary, so start small and practice your people skills. Intend to make casual conversation with your grocer, mail person, or neighbor. And remember! You aren’t alone. So many of us are feeling overwhelmed, awkward, and nervous about this adjustment too.


4. Listen to conversations

Similar to practicing small talk, listening to conversations is a way to practice connecting with others. It might sound weird to some, but sometimes we forget how to have a conversation. Pay attention to people who you find confident. What do they do? Look up podcasts, interviews, and other examples of conversations and take note if you need to. Can you notice when a conversation feel natural? Forced?



We all hold biased beliefs or perspectives, some being more exaggerated than others. These are called cognitive distortions, thoughts that can cause us to perceive reality inaccurately, frequently going hand-in-hand with feelings of depression, anxiety, or anger. When we identify and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns we gain self-awareness, ease intrusive thinking, and help separate ourselves from our thoughts. We can do this by reframing and restructuring our thoughts. This looks like transforming distorted, negative thoughts with healthier, less judgmental ones.


Distorted Thought: I was so awkward last night. Everyone is going to remember that about me forever.

Reframed Thought: We’re all a little awkward sometimes, but my flaws and awkward moments are what makes me relatable.

Get your Cognitive Distortions Guide here when you sign up to join our virtual book club.


6. Plan in advance

If you are someone who struggles with overwhelm, planning things like your outfit, your breakfast, and the music you will listen to while you get ready can be helpful to keep yourself feeling calm and prepared. Take a moment to write down three to five things you want to do to make future you feel more comfortable. Maybe it’s clearing the counter the night before so that preparing coffee in the morning is ready for you, or maybe it’s choosing three things you want to talk about as you drive to meet a friend for dinner. Don’t go overboard with planning in advance, and remember to be clear, realistic, and compassionate about your expectations.


7. ask questions

The pressure is not solely on you to keep a good conversation going, so be sure to ask questions! Asking questions shows that you care about what the other person has to say while creating more opportunities to connect and relate. People enjoy talking about themselves, so if you find yourself blanking on what to say, try asking an open-ended question. Here are some to choose from:

  • “How do you know (insert host/mutual contact)?”

  • “Are you watching any good shows right now? I’d love a recommendation.”

  • “What’s the best ‘hidden gem’ around here?


8. Know your attachment style

Do you know your attachment style? Attachment style refers to why we are the way we are in relationships with ourselves and others. It’s based on the idea that people are either avoidant, secure, or anxious.

People with secure attachment styles might prefer to connect more emotionally and seek more intimate connections. They know how to cope with their emotions, they are great at communicating what they want and need.

People with an avoidant attachment style might fear intimacy but have a greater sense of autonomy and might appear to be independent, They tend to withdraw from intimate relationships, needing a lot of control and space.

People with an anxious attachment style struggle to communicate and might be hypervigilance toward signs of rejection. They want to feel close in their relationships, desire reassurance and tend to be sensitive about their relationships.

When we know our attachment style we can identify patterns in ourselves and build healthy relationships with attachment in mind.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. You are allowed to leave if you need to. Go to the bathroom, step outside, take a quick drive. Ground yourself and return feeling recharged. You don’t need to create a story about leaving. A simple, “I’ll be right back.” Or “I’m going to step out.” is just fine.

  2. People are more worried about themselves, not you. It’s true. We are all much more fixated on what we are doing, saying, and appearing like than anyone else.

  3. Sometimes faking it until you make it is okay. The next time you find yourself feeling anxious during a social interaction, try the following: Take a confident stance, speak clearly, and make eye contact. These three things, whether you’re faking it or not, will give you a sense of confidence.

  4. Messing up is normal. Remember, no one is perfect! We all have awkward moments, and most mistakes really are not a big deal, so try embracing your awkwardness because we really are all a little weird.

  5. Be compassionate with yourself. This is a difficult transition for so many of us. If “going back to normal” doesn’t feel very normal for you, that’s completely valid and to be expected! Remember that your anxiety is trying to protect you. If it feels overwhelming, acknowledge it, thank it, and reassure it that you are okay.


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