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How To Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety

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What Is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder, one of the most common mental disorders, is also referred to as social phobia. It is an intense, persistent fear of negative evaluation, embarrassment, and humiliation from others. This sometimes leads to avoidance in social gatherings and situations.

SAD levels vary for individuals depending on the gender they are interacting with. People suffering from social anxiety are prone to have interference with productivity, work, school, and even relationships. Social anxiety has a higher prevalence rate in young adults than older adults, with its age of onset in the mid-teens.

It is usually accompanied by other disorders, such as shyness, depression, eating disorder, substance use, and other anxiety disorders. It is characterized by crying and episodic illusions of being perceived in a certain way in younger children and fighting, truancy, antisocial behaviors in adolescents.

Studies have shown that there is a higher rate of social anxiety disorder in women than in men. However, men who are separated, unmarried, or divorced show more traits of social anxiety.

People who are single and less-educated have also shown to suffer from social anxiety. Social anxiety disorder increases the risk of dropping out of school, unemployment, work absences, reduced quality of life, co-occurring SAD with depression increases the risk of suicide.

Symptoms of social anxiety can be emotional, physical, or co-occurrence of both. Physical symptoms such as nervousness, fast heartbeats, stomach upsets, lightheadedness, blank mind, muscle tension, sweating, and trembling. Emotional signs include a variety of fear in most social situations and audiences.

Recommended: Overcome Your Social Anxiety With Online Therapy

What Causes Social Anxiety

A chronic perception of inferiority causes social anxiety. People with SAD suffer from low self-esteem due to how they feel about situations and people’s reactions. It can be caused by a variety of consequences occurring separately or co-occurring.

Parenting Styles

Your family background plays a big role in forming how you relate with people or your environment and your general perception of life. People with SAD are more likely to have been raised in a negative environment such as divorce or separation, domestic violence, toxic environment compared to those with a positive upbringing.

Stressful Life Influences

Lifetime events such as conflict, abuse, violence, divorce, death, bullying, separation, abandonment can change how a person feels about themselves. Some persons think and believe they cause these influences or sometimes feel such events are bound to happen repeatedly, hence leading to SAD.

Family History

Genetics plays a powerful role in a person’s physical and mental build. People with traces of SAD in parents, siblings, or relatives are more than likely to suffer from the condition as well.


Timid, shy, withdrawn, or restrained children and adults are likely to experience social disorders when faced with specific situations. Children with strict parents and backgrounds who have been forced to be timid and shy may also suffer from SAD.

Traumatic Experience

Each individual way of dealing with trauma varies from one person to the other. Some heal positively, others negatively, while some are stuck in between. People who have been through either are at a higher risk of suffering from a social anxiety disorder.

Special Appearances and Conditions

Special conditions that attract attention can create self-consciousness, which triggers social phobia. Scars from accidents or births sometimes raise awareness or curiosity in people, which may cause segregation for persons with scars leading to phobias.


Being secluded from people either as a personal option or form of punishment can eventually lead to early stages of social anxiety, where persons prefer being alone rather than interacting with others.

Social Or Work Expectations

Society sometimes places high levels of expectations on what is right and what is wrong, where living a simple life is judged. These social or work expectations can force people to be too much and feel self-conscious when they do not meet up these supposed standards.

Other situations that can evoke distress include;

  • Interactions with influential figures or authorities expected conversations
  • Pregnancy and/or infancy stress
  • Speaking in front of a large crowd or audience
  • Meeting new people
  • Constant negative criticism

Related: How To Overcome Anxiety And Start Living Life Again

15 Ways To Overcome Shyness And Social Anxiety

A social disorder does not just spring up, it follows a series of occurrences such as situations, thoughts, self-perception, safety behavior, interpretation, and core beliefs.

SAD can be treated following a combination of cognitive-behavioural therapy and or medications, but our primary focus is how to overcome disorders through simple, and effective ways using the CBT method.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a mental health treatment and/or talk therapy (psychotherapy) focused on identifying and altering negative thoughts and beliefs about oneself and life into positive perceptions.

CBT may be group or individual therapy, mostly on self-focused attention, self-perception, social negative evaluation, exposure, mindfulness, and other cognitive values.

1. Ask for help

There is really no shame in seeking professional help when you need it. Speak to family, friends, therapists as soon as you feel the onset of social phobia. There are a lot of mental health help options available these days. Also, provide assistance to people living with SAD.

2. Live a healthy lifestyle

Your daily activities can have either positive or negative effects on your mental health. Habits such as unhealthy eating, irregular sleep patterns, drug misuse, and excessive alcohol intake use can have damaging effects on your overall health. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and engaging in positive activities to improve your mental and social health.

3. Learn to say yes

You don’t always have to say no. Is there a particular outing you’d like to attend, a dress that sparks your interest?, saying yes could go a long way in improving and overcoming SAD.

4. Learn to say no

Learn, adapt the behavior of saying no just as much as you learn to say yes. Balance your yes’s and no’s, do what suits you most, healthy positive things that will influence your life and thoughts the right way.

5. Just be yourself

Perfectionism is something many people try to and mostly fail at. That you are not perfect does not mean you are not worthy or good enough. It just means that you are enough and more in your own unique way.

6. Practice social skills

Sometimes children who are withdrawn and restrained grow up into adults with SAD. Constant simple, easy steps such as greetings and introductions to the next person, maintaining eye contact, compliments can help overcome shyness when practised.

7. Stop overthinking every event and/or situations

Overthinking every life situation that happens will only aggregate negative thoughts and fear, thus causing social phobia. We do not always have control over everything that happens.

Related: How To Deal With High Functioning Anxiety

8. Join Support Group

People with chronic social anxiety disorder should join therapeutic groups, a community of like-minds where they can openly and freely talk about problems bothering them without fear of being judged.

9. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Yoga, breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, mindfulness help detox the body from negative thoughts. Incorporate these techniques into your daily routine to promote better mental health, which will strengthen self-esteem and self-worth and curb social disorders with time.

10. Be Kind To Yourself

Be compassionate and generous to your mind and body. The brain automatically adapts to what we feed it in terms of words, feelings, and attitudes.

11. Always Choose Yourself

Trying to be everything at once and for everyone will have damaging effects on your perceptions. We can not please everyone. Learn to choose yourself even when it may seem difficult. This will improve your reactions to situations.

12. Eat Better, Sleep Better

Lack of sleep and good food can cause hormonal imbalances, as well as overthinking, which can lead to fear of perception.
Develop a regular sleep pattern, eating healthily, and not putting yourself under overly stressful situations can promote a better overall physical outlook.

13. Affirm Yourself

Words of affirmation boost not only self-esteem and worth but also promote confidence in self. Create a consistent schedule of daily doses of inspirational and affirmative words.

14. Surround Yourself With Positivity

Stay away from anyone or anything related to negativity, from criticism to overly judgmental people. They influence how you feel about yourself, making you feel you are not good enough.

15. Stop Being Bitter

Stop complaining about every event or condition, rather focus on solutions, your strengths, and how to heal from such conditions.


Social anxiety disorder is not a common mental disorder, with a misconception often disregarded in children and adolescents, termed to be a part of “their growing phase”. It can damage if left untreated and can have complications in persons living with it. Luckily, people are being more open with the condition and treatments are available online and offline.

Choose the option that works best for you and incorporate them into your daily routine with consistency. Also, seek therapy if you suffer from chronic SAD and provide positive support to family and friends living with the conditions.

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Pristen Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.


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