If you are feeling panicky about some type of social interaction due to social anxiety such as stage fright, these six strategies will come in handy to help you cope right then and there in this situation, and sometimes right after. All right, let's get into it.
The first thing you can do is talk yourself through it. A lot of times when we're in these types of social situations, we can't really walk away from them as easily as you might think. But of course, if that is the situation, then just politely excuse yourself. Take a time out and walk away. But if you can't, then one of the best things to do is to have part of your brain engage in some positive self-talk while the other part of your brain is still actively engaging as best you can with the person, such as when you, you might be on stage or right about to go on stage or in a meeting or in a grueling, high stakes interview, whatever social situation is being presented at the time.
So talking yourself through it looks like positive self-talk. You're telling yourself that you're going to get over this, that you can overcome this, that you are enough right now. You don't need to impress anybody because a lot of times when we feel that social anxiety, it's rooted in this fear of potential failure or potentially failing on the impression that we want to give people.
If you want to give like a calm, cool demeanor, but inside you are freaking out and you're really nervous, right? So things like that where we're telling ourself that this is something I can overcome, this is just a temporary feeling. It's not something that I'm going to be thinking about probably 10 years from now, five days from now.
Hopefully not five minutes from now. But the idea is to really ground yourself and think of ways that you can give yourself a pep talk in that moment.
Number two, this one's popular among lots of practitioners as well as therapists. So it's this idea of distracting your mind, so taking your mind off of the current discomfort that you might be feeling due to some type of social anxiety. Which can cause people feelings of panic, general feelings of a knees and discomfort, so to speak.
So this is a great one. This is about counting colors. So what is this concept? It's the idea that you see a color and you either voice it. If you are in a situation where you're alone to do so in a private setting, or if you're with people because you're still engaging in social interaction, then you can make a mental note of it and just say to yourself, those plants are green, the carpet is beige, the window sills are white, the shirt is red, and so on and so forth. And that way it really gets you switching gears and putting you in a more grounded state because you're being perceptive, you're being mindful, and you're also taking your mind away from that panic that's starting to bubble up due to that social anxiety.
So you can try this one out and see how it goes for you if you're able to do it in a way that you're not distracted from whatever else you're engaging in at the time. Obviously, this would be maybe a little bit tricky to do if you're giving a speech and you're in front of people, but that panic that comes, that the stage fright rather, that you might be sensing before going on stage.
Maybe you're still in the audience and you're going to make your way up to the stage depending on the format. Or maybe you are on a panel but you haven't spoken yet. Or maybe you're behind the scenes, right? You're maybe you're backstage somewhere, maybe you're getting ready in your dressing room. So anytime like before you're going to be in the spotlight, so to speak. You can try doing this, the counting the colors exercise.
The next one, I really like this one. Call your person. So you might be in a situation where you've taken that time out. Maybe it's during your lunch break, maybe you have a full day of interviews and halfway through you are on your lunch break or some type of break, and you're able to call somebody who's in your inner circle of trust, talk to that person. Just sometimes even just hearing their voice, not even saying anything about yourself or how you are feeling, just hearing that person's voice can immediately put you in a different head space. We all have those people in our lives, I think, and so really relying on them in these kinds of moments where we really need some sort of distraction in a positive way that can ground us in a calm, a sense of calm. That can be the person you call. And so walking them through the sensations that you're feeling or not. Like I said, sometimes it's just a matter of asking them how they feel and letting them talk to you, and really just having you able to switch gears can be the thing you need in that moment.
If that's not something that's going to work for you and you feel comfortable just billing your, feelings, then do, of course this is going to be a place that is a safe space for you, right? A person with whom you can have genuine, authentic, sincere conversations and obviously confide in. So that might be something that you try as well.
This one's always a good one, labeling the emotions. So what I really like about this is that it's very visual. So as you're experiencing that sense of uneasiness or the panic or the general sense of malaise when you're in your social anxiety induced situation. Let the feelings course through you, as unpleasant as they might be, but then label them.
Think, okay, I'm feeling this, and try to place some sort of emotion on it using emotional resonance that you have some emotional vocabulary and you can also imagine and visualize those sensations coursing through your body. And just visualize them in all the places that you might feel that tension for a lot of us, it's in our chest, in our heart space, could also be in our gut.
There's a very powerful mind, gut connection, so it's no surprise that we might be feeling it in this general area. And so maybe you place your hands around your abdomen or on your heart's center. And you think, okay, I'm feeling it here. These are the emotions I'm feeling, and then sort of meditate it out of you if you can, without sounding too woo woo on this, but it's really very powerful, right?
The mind gut connection that we have. Sometimes it just takes for us to label those emotions, feel those emotions, allow ourselves to feel those emotions and then process them. And a good way of processing them is by labeling them. And then lastly, if you're a visual person or you want to try this exercise out for yourself, visualize those feelings coursing through you, and then also visualize them leaving your body.
And so if you spend maybe five, 10 minutes even doing this, you'll feel a whole lot better. And what's really great is that this is something that you can actually do during your social interaction without being too obvious about it, obviously, especially if you're still, engaging. I don't know that I would recommend this for when you're really in the spotlight, if you're the person speaking on the panel, or if you are someone giving the speech or running the meeting.
Or doing the interview, right? But it could be in a moment right before, because a lot of those times that social anxiety starts creeping up from the get go. Even before we get into the spotlight. Just the me act of knowing that we're going to be in the spotlight imminently can start to stir up those feelings of discomfort and that anxiety that starts to bubble up.
So right before, it could even be right after. And if you think it's appropriate for you in your specific situation, maybe even during, you'll have to decide that yourself as you are going to be the one in that specific situation.
The next one is to reach for something cold. If you are in a situation where you're able to do that, maybe somebody's offering you a nice cold beverage, then just take that, hold it. Really center yourself around those feelings again, because it's something like switching the context. So moving your thought pattern from, oh, I'm so nervous, this is freaking me out, I'm very uncomfortable here. The anxiety is very strong as opposed to, okay, this nice cold can of lemonade is, really making me feel a lot better. It's something as simple as that. So this one would be probably more difficult to do when you're in public, but I can give you an example where you can do this while interacting with someone.
Let's say you're on the phone and you are in an intense conversation, maybe you're in a negotiation. If you have some sort of cold thing near you, maybe it be an ice pack or you have your fridge right next to you and you can reach for cold can of, lemonade or whatever.
You can hold that and just think to yourself, okay, this cold feeling here, even if it's just on your wrist or taking a cold towel and putting that on your forehead, that immediately calms you. I know if I get a headache, having some sort of cold thing on my skin feels so much better because it's taking that attention away from what's bothering me.
A headache in that example, right? That pain that I might be feeling to that cold touch. So try that out as well. That could be something that might work for you too.
And then strategy number six, deep breathing. I cannot emphasize this one enough. It's really so remarkable how just taking a few deep breaths can take you from hyperventilating and feeling that anxiety.
All of that breathing that you're doing, that shallow breathing in your chest and moving it instead into those deep inhales and extended exhales that come from the rise and fall of your abdomen. It's amazing how you immediately feel so much better. And there's real science to this. Allowing that flow of oxygen to get into our brains helps us feel de-stressed, helps eliminate the distress as well that we're feeling from that anxiety. And it sends a signal to our parasympathetic nervous system that we're not in fight or flight mode. We don't have to fight here, we don't have to run away.
We're not being chased by a bear. We can just calm down. This is not an issue. So sending those signals to your brain of I am okay. I'm in a safe space. No bears are chasing me here all through the breath. It's remarkable. So I really encourage you above all else to first start with that. I know it's the last strategy, but now come to think of it, I feel like that's a major one to start with, cuz it all comes down to the breath, right? We're doing breathing constantly. We're breathing all the time without even being cognizant of it. And if it gets in the way by getting too fast, or we're hyperventilating or we're being shallow with our breath coming, using our chest to do that instead of our abdomen, then that can start to cause more anxiety when we don't need that additional anxiety, and instead we just ground ourself through the breath.
All right, so those are the six strategies to help get you through that panic that you might be feeling that is social anxiety induced, be it from stage fright, from public speaking, from phone phobia, whatever it is, whatever kind of situation stirs up those feelings of anxiety in you and for everyone it's going to be different.
But rest assured, I tell this to all my students, everyone has some sort of social anxiety. It's just a matter of identifying it, knowing when it might come up, and then doing what we can to mitigate it. So these six strategies can help you mitigate the effects of the social anxiety induced panic as well as trying to think about how to implement these maybe before that panic strikes, if that makes sense.
All right. Thank you so much for joining me. I hope that you enjoyed it. If you did, give it a big thumbs up. Make sure you're following and subscribed and all that jazz, and I hope that you also check out advanced English because that's also a wonderful resource that I love to recommend alongside Explearning.
All right. Thank you so much again. See you soon. Happy Explearning everyone.