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Coping with Social Anxiety

By healthassured 05 Dec 2023

Social anxiety disorder can be debilitating, especially when you are in a new and ever-changing setting.

Feeling tense about new situations and people can be challenging for everyone. Starting a new job, going to events, or dealing with workload stress are all common reasons to feel anxious.

For some, social anxiety can become so overwhelming that they feel the need to isolate themselves from social contact due to excessive self-consciousness and worry.

Many feel continuously anxious on a daily basis caused by triggers that others may find easy to navigate. This includes making small talk with someone they are unfamiliar with, being invited to a social occasion, or going on a date.

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety is a social phobia that stimulates physiological, emotional, and physical symptoms that leaves a person feeling drained and unable to perform daily tasks.

Continuous nervousness and fear when in social situations are common symptoms, making it hard to make friends, and the ability to do daily tasks and activities.

It is especially difficult for those in a new environment where they may not feel comfortable yet.

What are the common symptoms of social anxiety?

Social anxiety symptoms are different and unique to everyone which is why it is important to understand and know your social anxiety rather than generalising.

However, there are many shared symptoms that many people experience.

It is important to note that having a shy personality or being introverted does not necessarily mean that you have social anxiety. How comfortable you are in social situations can depend on your personality type or lived experiences.

If you are constantly feeling anxious and nervous most days, most of the day you may have social anxiety.

Here are some common symptoms of social anxiety:

  • Worrying about everyday activities, such as meeting new people, having conversations with people, and speaking over the phone.
  • Avoid or worry a lot about social occasions
  • Always worry about something you think is embarrassing.
  • Fear of being criticised
  • Having panic attacks
  • Withdrawing from friends
  • Avoiding lectures, seminars, or meetings

How to cope with social anxiety

1. Talk to trusted friends and family

Talking with trusted friends and family can be extremely valuable to coping with social anxiety.

Discussing your issues with a trusted individual will allow you to express your insecurities who may have personal tips and advice. Trustworthy people in your life will give you confidence and support to overcome social anxiety.

Trusted friends and family could also share their own experiences with social anxiety, making you feel as though you are not alone.

It is beneficial to talk to someone who knows and understands you and also might have insight into your social anxiety triggers. Their guidance is likely to be tailored to helping you specifically and not just generalised social anxiety advice.

2. Know your social anxiety

Knowing your social anxiety is vital for understanding how to cope.

Social anxiety is unique to each person and triggers will be varied for different people. It is important to understand what aggravates your social anxiety and the best ways in which you can avoid or deal with triggers.

Focus on understanding your triggers and what causes your social anxiety to flare up.

The more you understand what triggers your social anxiety the more you will be able to know when they will arise, how to manage the anxiety, and how to avoid the triggers.

3. Talk to a counsellor

Discussing wellbeing worries with a counsellor is a great alleviator for mental health stresses and social anxieties. Counsellors will offer different perspectives, provide comfort and security and be a source of knowledge for your specific mental health triggers.

Talking with a counsellor will give the space to explore negative feelings, understand them better, find solutions to your triggers, and ways to manage the anxiety.

At Health Assured, we offer a Student Assistance Programme that allows students at the University of Leicester to contact our accredited counsellors when they need it.

4. Be kind to yourself and celebrate successes

Many find self-criticism to be motivational, but it can be harmful to mental wellbeing. Thinking and speaking kindly to yourself is beneficial to your mental health, supporting self-confidence, and a happy and healthier lifestyle.

Being kind to yourself will elevate some of the negative feelings and emotions you may feel whilst feeling socially anxious.

Try to remember all the positive things you have in your life and that you are proud of instead of letting your mind drift into a negative space. More often than not, anxiety pressures the brain to believe the worst is going to happen when in reality it is just your brain in ‘fight or flight’ mode.

Challenge yourself. When you think or speak negatively about yourself because of your social anxiety struggles, ask why you think that way and is it actually true. This is also a good talking point to have with a counsellor.

Celebrate your successes, regardless of how small or insignificant they may feel, and remind yourself that you are doing your best.

Getting support

The University of Leicester offers a Student Assistance Programme with Health Assured! Our team of counsellors are here for you 24/7 for a confidential discussion about how you’re feeling. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get the wellbeing support you need.

Call us on: 0800 028 3766

Or  (Username: wellbeing / Password: MoveMindTime1)

Or download the Health Assured ‘Wisdom’ app and use unique code MHA177874

Find out more about other support available at the University on our wellbeing hub

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healthassured Our University of Leicester Student Assistance Programme. We are a confidential service, with qualified counsellors accessible 24/7, to support you through any issues or problems. Call us on 0800 028 3766, visit or use the 'Wisdom' app.
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